Promoting positivity in the workplace

promoting workplace positivityWe are products of our environment. Therefore, it is vital to lay strong foundations for a positive working atmosphere for staff to be able to flourish and succeed – particularly so considering that over two-thirds of our adult life is spent at work.

An environment in which employees have mutual respect, feel appreciated and valued and where they can work in harmony contributes strongly towards creating a happy workforce.

However, somewhat alarming is feedback from a recent study which shows that a staggering 88 per cent of employees would avoid saying hello if they bumped into a colleague while on holiday, and only 6 per cent of staff enjoy socialising with fellow workers outside of set hours. In addition, 47 per cent have witnessed peers making life more difficult for one another after a disagreement – certainly not an attitude conducive to a happy and productive working environment!

So what exactly are the key components to achieving a positive work place?

Recognition breeds happiness

A common misconception is that a pay rise is the main route to motivate disengaged staff members. Whilst a pay rise might initially please the recipient, the reality is that it soon gets absorbed by daily living costs meaning the positive result is short lived.

In fact, sometimes it’s the seemingly smaller gestures that give big (and lasting!) bang for their buck.

Recognition is so simple, yet so effective, and managers who help their staff to value one another will reap the benefits of this.

There are several ways to help to avoid employees adopting a negative stance towards their employer and their work. For example, when an employee has worked longer hours, or put in extra effort, it’s important to show appreciation.  A simple thank you goes a long way to increasing engagement.

A recognition scheme implemented by Siemens gave employees the opportunity to recognise and commend their peers personally – from sending a simple e-card for helping with a deadline to nominating someone who has really gone the extra mile and offered support for a monthly award.

Since the launch of the scheme Siemens has seen an uplift of 168% in recognitions with 23,971 awards allocated, showing that employees can and will value and appreciate each other if encouraged to do so.

Respect and courtesy are simple, yet important factors, and if achieved in the workplace can have a significant impact on the overall perception of work.

Feedback feeds the mind

Feedback is fundamental in everyday employer-employee relations, and even more so where improvements are required. According to research (Gallup 2009) managers who give little or no feedback to their workers fail to engage 98 per cent of them. Employees need to be aware of how they are doing and also what they can do to improve.  This can be achieved through setting goals together and again reinforces the fact that the manager supports the employee.

Organisations should encourage suggestions and input and they should always make staff see that their opinions count. Many employees have invaluable ideas which could benefit the company, yet often remain unvoiced unless requested.

Also, linking employee objectives to the overall company goals ensures that staff can recognise their contributions to the company’s vision. Encouraging development through training shows employees that the business is willing to invest in them, as well as providing the employer with an engaged and skilled workforce. Find out what talents the team has and utilise these when delegating projects to ensure they are using their areas of expertise and developing in relevant areas.

Rewarding positivity

Reward good work. Have exciting or relevant incentives that are attainable.  This gives employees something tangible to work towards. Also consider the frequency of incentives – regular rewards drive positive behaviour.

To ensure that reward and recognition policies have a positive impact rather than demotivate staff, companies must benchmark and review such policies at least every three years and ensure they’re abreast of the current industry best practice.

Of course, in today’s struggling economy rewards must be carefully administered.  The impressive rewards offered in more fruitful days are unlikely to be feasible but, nevertheless, if an employer chooses to offer a token gesture of thanks it should make the employee feel valued. Rewards such as the Spree Card, a pre-paid Mastercard or a gift card are cost-effective, yet also have the power to give everyone the choice of what they want and to leave an employee with a happy memory and a smile.

When it comes to dealing with negativity in the workplace, prevention is better than cure. Negativity can be counteracted by acknowledging the problem and addressing it on both an individual and group basis. However, negativity often stems from staff feeling disengaged and de-motivated, but through recognising employees, helping them to recognise one another and ensuring they feel appreciated, employers can set themselves in good stead to stop negativity in its tracks.

After all, everyone wants to feel they are valued.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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