Creating a Positive Work Environment

  • Mar 19
Creating a Positive Work Environment

Creating a positive work environment isn’t simply a luxury of the modern world – it’s a necessity. After all, events like the Great Resignation in 2021 showed that employees have adopted a renewed sense of worth. And although the record number of monthly quits has fallen back to a normal range since then, the lesson is still pertinent. Hostile work environments breed resentment, which in turn leads to shorter tenure and other notable problems.

But merely weeding out the negative aspects of work culture isn’t enough. Business leaders need to take a more proactive stance that encourages a positive work environment. That way, they not only eliminate the “bad” in their organizations. They also create a welcoming environment where leaders truly care about the individuals working as part of the organization. Such is the purpose of holidays like Employee Appreciation Day.

Here are ten ways you can help contribute to a strong, positive workplace:

  1. Notice and Praise Hard Work
  2. Hold Tightly to Organizational Ethics
  3. Remember the Human Element
  4. Invest in Your Workforce
  5. Be Truthful with Workers
  6. Carefully Vet and Check In with Leaders
  7. Make the Workplace Physically Comfortable and Appealing
  8. Stop Praising Burnout
  9. Push for Natural Collaboration
  10. Strive for Positive Feedback Rather than Critical Appraisal

What Is a Positive Work Environment?

Of course, trying to hit a target without even knowing what to aim for makes success nearly impossible. If you don’t have a good understanding of what a positive work environment looks like, then you have almost no hope of achieving it in your organization.

Naturally, different people in various spheres might define such a culture differently. For example, Worklife Office notes aspects such as trust, safety, accountability and equity. Alternatively, Indeed writer, Jennifer Herrity, focuses on qualities of respect, empathy and overall understanding. And yet another view on positive work environment from Victoria University simplifies it as a space where employees feel valued and recognized.

The point is, a positive workspace isn’t exactly easy to nail down in concrete terms. However, they’re apparent when seen, because they promote employee growth and a strong level of respect. In short, a positive work environment remembers its human elements. And rather than exploiting them for the sake of gain, it actively attempts to provide excellent conditions and opportunities.

This requires proper displays of employee appreciation, opportunities for innovation and creativity, and ultimately points to worker actualization.

None of the aspects of an excellent work culture mentioned above are mutually exclusive, but they all point to the same end: an uplifting workplace.

Why Is a Positive Environment Important?

At this point, you probably have a good idea of the importance of a positive environment in the workplace. It creates opportunities for growth that benefit not only the individual but the company as a whole. Furthermore, this sort of culture allows employees to explore new skills, ideas and interests they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. In turn, this leads to inspiration, experimentation and innovation.

In other words, this sort of work culture helps place organizations on the leading edge of their field. Because it allows workers to explore new avenues that other companies fail to see.

Moreover, a positive work environment leads to sustainability of human resources. Workers engrossed in an uplifting culture are less likely to leave their company. In fact, 58% of employees in a survey noted that they have or would consider quitting if the culture was steeped in bad behavior.

Essentially, a positive work environment is vital to the success not only of the individual in a role but to the business overall. When worker satisfaction increases, so too do productivity and business longevity. So, unless your organization can afford to forego these aspects, you need to create a culture that benefits your employees.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

1. Notice and Praise Hard Work

This aspect of a positive work environment should come naturally in any organization. That doesn’t mean it becomes an effortless or insincere occurrence. However, when workers go above and beyond, putting in immense effort, leaders should take notice. But more than that, they should publicly praise the successes of their employees. After all, this creates a more inviting atmosphere, where team members aren’t afraid to reach out and pour themselves into tasks.

Some people feel that hard work is it’s own reward – but that doesn’t go very far in helping build a strong workforce. Thankless work makes individuals feel undervalued and unappreciated. So, if you’re in a position of leadership, make sure that you go out of your way to notice and applaud those in your organization who make it run. This by itself can go a long way in turning a mediocre environment toward a much more uplifting culture.

2. Hold Tightly to Core Ethics

The importance of ethics in corporate culture can’t be overstated. Too often, organizations attempt to skirt rules and guidelines to get ahead in their industry. And often enough, the results are public ridicule and major losses in both money and support. Even if the downfall doesn’t happen immediately, secrets only remain hidden for so long. And this applies just as much to a company’s internal workings as it does to their external business dealings.

The way an organization treats its workers matters. Despite terming workforces “human resources”, they are much more than that. Each individual has intrinsic worth, personal goals and hopes, and integrity that shouldn’t be marred. When companies fail to see their employees as human, they quickly become oppressive and immoral.

So, corporate leaders must do everything in their power to hold to a strong company ethic. That is, a set of principles that detail how they handle both internal and external aspects. That way, they not only protect themselves from public shame but also do what’s within their ability to create a positive workplace for their employees.

3. Remember the Human Element

Perhaps the best place to note this is right after discussing the importance of a core ethic, because it closely mirrors the same topic. Organizational leaders should always strive to keep the human element of their business front and center. And that doesn’t mean simply within the public eye. They need to do so within their own minds, that way they never lapse into viewing individuals as cogs in a machine.

Yes, employees are all part of a larger organization, but that fact should make them feel a sense of belonging. Too often it has the opposite effect, where they feel dehumanized and overlooked. Instead, being part of something “bigger” than themselves should afford a sense of importance. Each individual contributes to the whole, and without them, the organization couldn’t function as efficiently.

Moreover, leaders must remember that work isn’t the highest end of humans. Every single employee has ambitions, goals, and hopes for their lives. And while their role in the organization is important, leaders shouldn’t prize that over the other elements of their individuality.

In other words, create a workplace that helps your employees achieve their goals, not one that stifles their ability to achieve them.

4. Invest In Your Workforce

Interestingly, a report from PwC noted that 62% of workers actively seek out opportunities to learn new skills that help in the workplace. And up to 74% of employees want to learn new skills through their training. So, it’s clearly evident that workers crave the opportunity to better themselves, and creating a positive work environment can easily incorporate this desire.

In effect, leaders can invest in their workforce through various training and educational opportunities. These might happen through mentorships, external continuing education courses, or even in-house instruction.

Regardless the form it takes, the symbiotic nature of this benefit should be clear. The organization provides opportunities for employees to grow in their knowledge. And in doing so, they create a more positive work environment. Then, workers can take those new skills and employ them more effectively for the benefit of the company. Ultimately, this entails a win-win situation. So, company’s should take note and carefully consider the positive outcomes associated with investing in their employees this way.

5. Stay Truthful with Workers

There’s something to be said about protecting company secrets – of course, this has to happen. However, organization leaders should also be as transparent with employees as possible. If the company is pivoting and heading in a new direction, they should give their workers ample notice as to when and why. They should make their motivations clear and questionable. After all, employees can help keep their leaders in check. Those in power shouldn’t be above reproach, and their decisions shouldn’t be made absent others’ input.

All in all, how transparent leaders can be comes down to the nature of the work they do and the reasons for their decisions. But, when possible, they should allow employees a glimpse behind the curtain. Otherwise, they might feel drug along behind the company, left to hit every bump and rock in the road.

6. Carefully Vet and Check In with Leaders

Top organizational leaders can’t oversee every single decision themselves. They have to employ other leaders and managers to help the company along in its journey. Unfortunately, some of these lower-level leaders might not have what it takes to lead a team efficiently and positively. That’s why it’s important to first vet and then check in with both managers and team members. That way, you can ensure they stick with the overarching corporate values and contribute effectively to a positive work environment.

Even if the company itself has a sterling reputation and a good culture, a smaller team environment can still be poor if left in the hands of an incapable leader. So, be sure you keep your finger on the pulse of different teams and ensure they’re led ethically and fairly.

7. Make the Workplace Physically Comfortable and Appealing

One of the easiest things to do that contributes to a positive work environment is make the office more physically appealing. Of course, the ability to do so depends on the type of work. It’s not exactly easy to decorate a construction site or water treatment plant. But for more office-oriented settings, giving workers something to look forward to with coming to work makes a huge difference.

If employees know they’re going to sit in an uncomfortable chair, smashed between two coworkers for seven hours each day, their motivation will suffer. But if they have their own space, can decorate it as desired, and are provided comfortable furniture, it makes a difference.

Furthermore, making the office more comfortable includes visual appeal. Bring in potted plants, paint the walls, hang beautiful photographs. Do something that gives life to the space. Having a purely utilitarian outlook doesn’t do much for workers. They can sit in a grey, drab box all day and get their work done. But when they can relax in their office space, and find comfort there, their productivity and drive increase.

8. Stop Praising Burnout

“Wait”, you might be thinking. “Who would actually praise burnout?”

Well, perhaps not many people view exhaustion as a good thing theoretically, but our actions often speak louder. And whenever we work our employees to the brink, expecting them to keep pushing harder without breaks and periods of rest, that’s what we communicate.

A healthy, positive work environment is one which allows employees the time they need to recuperate and come back refreshed. Because rested workers have much more to offer than those worked to the bone.

Of course, how you structure breaks – both daily and long-term – depend on your specific organization. But failing to incorporate those sorts of necessary periods demoralizes workers, who have little to look forward to. Instead, they trudge through every day, not sure when their next chance to rest will come.

So, perhaps you don’t literally praise burnout – at least, not verbally. But make sure you don’t prioritize results over the health of your employees in the way you structure work.

9. Push for Natural Collaboration

Collaboration among coworkers and various teams is absolutely vital for the overall success of an organization. But it’s also a great way to inspire more positivity in the workplace – particularly when it happens naturally. Sometimes, corporate leaders attempt to push people together in a way that’s uncomfortable for one or both parties. They might force people to work in close alignment when it actually doesn’t make sense to do so.

Rather, they should help foster natural collaboration. Allow teams to determine how to work best together in ways that are simultaneously productive for the business. Sometimes, leaders do need to step in and help align these groups. But that’s where the difference comes in. Instead of trying to force things to happen one way, they might more naturally fit another. Leaders should be able to identify these areas and know when to step back and allow more organic collaboration.

Moreover, they should help set up specific opportunities for workers to get to know each other on a personal basis unrelated to tasks. That way, when the time comes for them to work together in a professional setting, they’re already familiar and more at ease.

10. Strive for Positive Feedback Rather Than Fearful Appraisals

Finally, we come to the last point, but that doesn’t make it least important. In fact, this is one of the primary ways to begin forming a culture that’s more positive than negative. And it all starts with leaders.

Performance appraisals are a necessary aspect of the workplace. They help measure what things an employee does well, what things they can improve upon, and then outline a plan. But often, they cause an undue amount of fear and trepidation. Some overly-anxious employees might wonder if they’ll be reprimanded – generally for no good reason. Others might know it will devolve into an argument.

Instead, corporate managers should do their best to make these times of positive feedback, at least in the way they present things. Even when discussing points of potential growth, it’s possible to do so in a positive way. Language is key here. Rather than discussing these areas in terms of failures or deficiency, speak about opportunities for improvement. Outline specific ways individuals might be able to grow.

In essence, don’t allow performance appraisals to become fear inducing. Spur them to be positive experiences, where employees don’t fear open communication. How you do this is ultimately up to you, but it can easily kickstart a more positive work environment if handled well.


Though creating a more positive workplace might not always have been at the forefront of business, it’s an absolutely vital aspect today. Leaders who want to encourage long-tenure at their companies need to do what they can to ensure their workers get what they need. And often, that begins by reassessing the way managers handle the day-to-day operations.

We’ve outlined ten ways you can start transforming your organization to become more focused on the betterment of employees. But there are many other options out there.

If you’re hoping to learn more, check out our self-paced Management course. It provides a wealth of knowledge about running a business, dealing with difficult circumstances, and coming out stronger.

Article written by Braden Norwood

Last updated March 19, 2024