How to Create a Positive Work Environment

By Lorena Roberts on August 25, 2018

Whether your ideal work environment is Dunder-Mifflin in Scranton, PA, or you’re happy with your cubicle farm, you’ll have a hard time retaining your employees if you don’t have a positive work environment. When employees want to go to work, they’re more productive and live happier lives in general. But how do you, as a manager, create an environment that’s considered positive? You might be thinking about the fact that you’re not the one in charge of your employees’ behaviors. While you’re absolutely correct about that, there are ways you can encourage a work environment that’s positive. Here are ten actions you can take if you’re wanting to create a positive work environment:


1. Positive Reinforcement

As a teacher would do with children, use positive reinforcement to show what you expect of your employees. Sometimes when you draw attention to the negative things happening in your organization, your employees start to resent working for you, even viewing you as a dictator instead of as a manager or a boss. When you focus the organization’s energy on making sure to point out the things that aren’t going right, your employees might start to view you as punitive. Instead of continuing to work together and having a group-wide drive to achieve goals, they’ll make jokes about you being overly critical and your overall popularity rate will plummet.

Remember that it’s always better to encourage people to do their jobs the right way when you reward to recognize those who are doing a great job.

2. Motivate your employees

If you ask your employees, they’ll likely tell you their ideal reward is a monetary bonus. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only way to motivate your employees to perform better. Encourage your employees to set personal goals for themselves, and then, as a group, set some goals for your organization. If they achieve this goal, promise to treat them to lunch. Or get a local movie theater to donate some movie passes for your employees and their families. There are hundreds of ways to motivate employees that aren’t just “giving them a $100 bonus.”

If your employees feel like they have something to work toward, they won’t feel like every workday is the same. They won’t view going into work as the “same old thing” they always do. Give them something to drive their excitement and work ethic.

3. Celebrate accomplishments

Achieving an accomplishment should be a huge deal within your organization. If you let these accomplishments go unnoticed, you’ll send your employees’ motivation down the drain. Taking just a few moments to recognize what your employees are doing well will be absolutely worth your time.

4. Say positive things

Managers who constantly say negative things to and in front of their employees not only earn themselves nasty nicknames in the workplace, but will soon be surrounded by a community of moping employees. It’s important that you analyze your daily language — make sure you’re talking positively about the things you’re proud of your organization for doing.

If you’re driven to mention all the places where you feel you’re falling short, save it for your glass of wine and significant other at the end of the night.

5. Remember that your employees are people

They aren’t machines. When you start forgetting that your employees are people, with families, dreams, and other important things in their lives, you start expecting much more from them than what they’re willing to give. It’s a fine line between expectations you know they’re capable of, and becoming a “slave driver” in their eyes.

Remind yourself every few weeks that your employees are people. They’ll love you much more if you support them and their families instead of constantly telling them they aren’t good enough.

6. Give your employees some autonomy

People like to take control of their own lives – they like to be able to make their own decisions. If you’re constantly checking in on every decision that your employees are making, they’ll feel as if you don’t trust them (and you’ll be completely worn out). It’s not worth it.

Instead, be intentional about giving them opportunities to make their own decisions and plan their own day. Employees who are in charge of themselves tend to be happier and more productive. No one likes to be micro-managed.


7. Welcome families

When you make it known that you stand behind employees with families and you’re willing to include them in quarterly socials, your employees will feel like they’re “safe” to take that day off to be with their kids. They’ll enjoy the little moments with their family at your corporate softball game. Give your employees opportunities to include their families.

By welcoming families, you’ll welcome camaraderie among your employees. Suddenly, the kids will want play dates, and the wives will want wine nights. You’ll start hearing about couples going on double-dates after work, and you’ll be generally pleased with the way your employees start interacting with each other.

8. Avoid instilling fear

We all know what instilling fear will do — make your work environment miserable.

Your employees should never be afraid of you. Instead, they should respect you.

9. Have morning meetings

Having a daily space for your employees to come together and chat is a step in the right direction for creating a positive work environment. Welcome the thoughts and opinions of your employees. Give them an opportunity to share their ideas. Morning meetings are the perfect way to encourage your employees to take ownership of your organization.

10. Make sure your employees see you as “approachable”

If you aren’t approachable, then there’s no way you’ll be able to create a work environment that’s positive. If you don’t have an open door policy, consider creating one. Set aside office hours. Share your workplace calendar.

If your employees feel like they can’t talk to you, I’d be surprised if your work environment was a positive one.

Following these ten tips are likely to make your work environment more positive than it currently is. If you’re struggling to get your employees to like you, remember that everyone values personal connection and encouragement. Set aside time to invest in each of your employees personally. You’ll thank yourself later.

By L. Roberts

Uloop Writer
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pup at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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