How You Can Contribute To A Positive Workplace Culture

Many of us end up spending more time in the office than we do at home – whether willingly or begrudgingly. It makes sense then that what happens in the office and how the people around you react to it, can have a massive impact on not only your productivity but also your personal life.

A 2012 study by Robert Half International, a global recruitment and employment agency, found that a poor work environment was bad business – for both employers and employees. They found the work environment played the most important factor in overall employee satisfaction with their jobs, and a negative workplace environment led to higher turn-over rates, a decline in productivity and even long-term mental health problems like depression and anxiety. All of this ended up costing employers money –­ which could have been avoided with a little thing called positivity.

Luckily, with the rise of more casual work environments and increasing emphasis on team cohesion, it has never been easier to help contribute to a positive workplace environment. And do you want to know the best part? You don’t even have to be in a managerial or higher-up position to do it.

All you have to do is scroll down for our handy dandy guide on how you can contribute to a positive workplace culture, no matter your position.

#1 Schedule a regular Monday morning meeting with co-workers to talk about positive things

Let’s face it, Mondays are pretty much the worse day of the week and Mondayitis is a very real condition. So there’s no better time to try and set your office up for a killer week than with a positivity meeting.

Schedule a time early on a Monday morning, making sure it’s a regular thing so all your co-workers remember to contribute, and take the time to go around the room and talk about three positive office-related topics you’d like to bring attention to.

Topics can be anything from a new client or pitch one of your co-workers successfully landed to a particularly funny group email that had you giggling all through the day. Just remember to sing those praises loud and proud.

 #2 Work through problems as a team rather than letting someone else carry the responsibility

We’ve all had that “oh crap” moment when something unexpected went wrong and you were left on your own to deal with the fall out. Isolation is never a great feeling but when you combine that with the knowledge that turning to more experienced co-workers for help might just make the situation worse, your stress levels are sure to bring the whole office down.

Avoid this situation altogether by creating a culture where office problems are worked through as a team without fear of excessive reprimand. If something goes wrong on your end, be open about what happened, take responsibility for your actions and then ask your co-workers if they could suggest any solutions. By opening yourself up like this, you’re sending a message to the rest of the office that it’s okay to look to the group around you for help.

Who knows, maybe one day someone will come to you with a problem you have the perfect solution for and you can both skip happily off into the problem-solving sunset.

#3 Learn to recognise when your co-workers’ personal problems are affecting the workplace

It’s hard to leave major emotional stress at the door when it comes to work. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise when your co-workers’ personal problems are affecting the rest of the office and work through them together, where appropriate.

Sometimes the best way to help someone else buck up is simply to provide a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. The next time your co-worker is having another bad day, and everyone avoids them because of it, bring them a coffee and ask whether there is anything you can do to help.

#4 Make special occasions special (and not just because HR says so)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been stuck with a mid-week birthday that you were forced to spend in the office. Now, how completely soul-crushing was that moment when your company’s HR manager awkwardly left a two-day old cupcake they found in their fridge on your desk in lieu of an actual office party. We’re tearing up just thinking about it. Nobody wants to spend their special day in an office that goes on like it’s not just the best day of the year.

Making a fuss, even a small one, is a great way to build those positive workplace vibes with little effort. Bigger offices might want to opt for the weekly birthday round-up brunch, while small teams could disappear to a coffee shop for an hour or so to celebrate like the suave professionals you are. Whatever style you choose, just make sure that the person it’s about feels like the champ they were waiting all year to be. Just think of how happy you’re making HR right now.

#5 Actively participate in outside-office social events (even if you really aren’t feeling it)

We understand the last thing you feel like doing on a Friday afternoon is going out for drinks with your co-workers. You’d much rather blitz through your leftover work and knock so you can knock off for an evening with Netflix and a glass of wine (the real MVP). We don’t blame you. But those cheesy, awkward outside-office social events are actually integral to building and sustaining a positive workplace culture.

If you get to know your co-workers on a more personal level outside of the office, it makes sense that you’ll work far better together once Monday rolls around. By hanging with a co-worker you’ll get to know their interests and dislikes, the little things they excel at and those problems that just leave them stumped. With that knowledge in hand, you can not only make sure that the work being forwarded to them is suited to their personality but also create a more personal bond that’ll help your future positive workplace efforts in other departments. You know what they say: co-workers that beer together stay together…or something like that.

Shannon Coward is a Brisbane-based freelance writer and corgi aficionado. She enjoys long walks to the nearest doughnut shop, romantic evenings spent with Netflix and dreaming of travel plans she really can’t afford. You can find her little slice of the internet here.