Last updated June 20, 2023

Imagine a workplace where you and your colleagues and team go into the office every day smiling and feeling happy to be there, and where you all enjoy seeing each other, enjoy your work, and find being at work rewarding.

Here are 10 ways that you can make your workplace a more positive one, without too much effort.

How to create a positive work environment

Benefits of a Positive Work Environment

There are numerous benefits to creating a positive workplace both at the employee and manager level and from the point of view of the company. The benefits include:

  • Better employee wellness and well-being – we have a duty of care to staff and a positive workplace means improved wellbeing for these staff.
  • Improved productivity levels – happier employees inevitably tend to work more effectively and efficiently as they are more relaxed and have fewer negative distractions.
  • Greater staff retention – rehiring and retraining staff is a huge expense that can be reduced if your employees not only want to work in your business but also spread the word to friends in other companies, about how great it is working in your office.
  • Creativity – Happier staff tend to be more creative and as a company, this can mean innovative ideas and greater opportunities.
  • Fewer workplace issues for managers to deal with – Fewer issues to deal with such as less conflict management, staff absence, and other issues. The costs involved in such issues can be high and can often be greatly reduced if some focus is put on improving the workplace atmosphere and working environment.
  • Happier for all – Generally a whole lot more enjoyable for you as the manager and a happier role for you

10 Ways to Make a More Positive Work Environment for Your Staff

Laughing and enjoying work

There are a number of things you can do to create a more positive work environment and many of these things are either free to do or are inexpensive and fairly straightforward to implement.

1. Have an Inclusive Workplace Where Everyone Feels Valued

It is essential that all employees feel valued in the workplace.

Each workplace is so often diverse in terms of people’s age group (generational diversity), background, ethnicity, gender, and dis/ability. So, it is important that the workplace feels like one that is inclusive for each and every employee.

Employees who feel valued tend to be much happier and more productive.

There are different ways in which you can make your workplace more inclusive, such as:

  • Helping managers and team leaders understand what can stand in the way of making all employees feel included
  • Educating staff on what unconscious bias is and how we overcome this (especially important for managers given that they are often involved in hiring decisions)
  • Developing strategies to become a more inclusive leader

2. Offer Simple Things So That Colleagues Love Coming to Work

When I used to work in Dublin, Ireland, even though the company was not the best paying, there was one thing that everyone absolutely loved, and that was the FREE morning toast, bagels, and coffee.

Once it was nine-thirty to ten in the morning when the bread and bagels arrived, the kitchen would be busy as everyone grabbed their free breakfast, whilst also chatting.

Despite the costs of the bread, bagels, and coffee and the lost time in the kitchen (rather than at the desk working), the connections that employees made by mixing and the very positive feeling everyone got every morning from getting a free breakfast and connecting with colleagues, in the long-term probably saved the company thousands because of staff retention.

Fun workplace freebies

Another company I worked in, years later, always offered fresh fruit for all staff, i.e. as much as you wanted to eat each day and this also created a very positive vibe.

Once again, despite the couple of two or three thousand Euros a year that the company spent on fruit, the feel-good factor from the free fruit paid dividends in the long term for the company. This was a company who were seen to care about their staff and who made that little extra effort to show they cared.

Furthermore, fruit is of course healthy and healthier employees can mean reduced staff absense in the longer term.

Free apples at work

3. Providing a Relaxation & Social Area

Team building is an important factor always to consider given that a unified team who gets on well, tends to be happier and more productive.

Try and make a point to provide a relaxing and chill-out area from which colleagues can work, i.e. hot desk if they wish.

This area can also be great for casual meetings and for employees to be able to mix and chat.

A room or space with lots of natural light and comfortable chairs can really also help this area.

Relaxation area

4. Plant Life in the Office

Having plants in the office can have a surprisingly positive effect on your employees, surprising in respect of how positive and happy it can help employees feel.

This is also a rather inexpensive thing to implement but with great benefits.

Many research studies support these benefits and this is something you can organize in a matter of days.

You will find that employees will not only enjoy seeing the plants but end up nurturing and caring for the plants, and many people enjoy going to the office to see the plants each day.

In other words, having plants in the office creates an extra benefit of going to work for many employees.

Furthermore, some plants also help to purify the air in your office and these plants include:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Spider plants
  • Bamboo palms

5. Build Trust in the Workplace

Trust, as you can imagine, is such a vital thing to have in the workplace.

You want to work in a place where you can trust colleagues and the managers and anyone whom you lead.

When there is a trusting environment, where colleagues can relax and work confidently, you will find that they are far happier than in a workplace where gossip, mistrust, and conflict occur.

6. Lead by Example

There are few better ways to create a positive work environment than to have your managers lead by example!

Happy managers, who have a positive manner and who create an enjoyable and fun place to work in, are an incredible asset.

In order to have a team of positive managers, as a company you can do this by:

  • Ensuring consideration in the hiring of managers is given to if they have a positive mindset and way of thinking
  • Providing training that really helps managers and team leaders to understand how to treat those they lead fairly and such that they build trust and respect, and have a set of equality and diversity guidelines in place.

7. Hire a Chief Happiness Manager

I have already written a detailed post on what a chief happiness manager is and how they can benefit your workplace so here is the post for you to read below.

This is understandably a position you might not want to hire for if you are a small company, but you can allocate someone this role as a part of their existing role if need be.

8. Create Psychological Safety in Your Workplace

It is also very worthwhile providing training to managers on the topic of Psychological Safety, so that they have a good understanding of how to:

  • Engage with their team members
  • Drive innovation and ideas and teamwork
  • Lead and be a source of inspiration for others
  • Empower team members

9. Communication and Staff Well-Being

There are a number of things you can do as a manager to ensure that your team is happy and that there is a positive atmosphere in your team.

You can start, for example, by talking to your team often and asking how they are and asking about any issues that might exist.

Have a regular team meeting (even if only once a month) and do make a point to have regular one-to-one meetings once a month.

Communicating better with your team means that:

  • You’ll be aware of any issues and can work to deal with them
  • Staff will feel they have a voice and are listened to
  • You can also find positive ideas from the meetings (such as fresh ideas from your team, ideas that create positive results and a better more fulfilled team)

10. Train Managers in Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an essential skill that anyone who manages other employees really needs to have.

Having managers who know how to put others at ease, and make them feel connected and valued within the work team, means a happier and more positive workforce.

Training managers in emotional intelligence basics is perhaps one of the easiest ways to build the skill set of managers (especially first-time managers).

This type of training will generally cover topics such as:

  • How to understand your own emotions at work
  • Learn how to understand, help and inspire others that you manage
  • How to be supportive, assertive, a good listener, and empathetic
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono