Anyone who has ever worked in an environment where the attitude towards work is sliding into the toxic will tell you how unpleasant it is. By contrast, if you have experienced the opposite you will know just how productive it can be.
Toxic workplaces don’t happen overnight.
They are a slow burn process where the little niggles and moans that we all have start to become the dominant part of the culture. Once started, the toxic culture can spread, and it can very quickly become a lack of investment in the work ethic, a general dissatisfaction and a focus on the negative aspects that swamps the good side of the job. Once you have an unhappy workforce, job satisfaction drops and productivity with it.
Promote a positive work environment
There are several small ways that companies can promote the positive in the working environment, and they will usually pay dividends. In fact, many of these regularly feature in the list of reasons people move from their current job or, more importantly, if you are looking to build your team, attract the best candidates.
- Showing managers can do the work on the ground. Getting dirty with the troops is a great way to generate confidence because it shows that everyone understands the ethos from the top down. There is a place for formality, but a workforce that sees the managers as colleagues, as well as the boss, will have more faith in the company overall.
- By the same token showing that the company is always about learning by example really pushes the feeling of belonging. One common complaint we have all heard is ‘they don’t appreciate what I do’, and sadly this can sometimes be the case because work colleagues don’t understand the importance of each other’s jobs. An environment that encourages a team learning and sharing approach tends to make people feel more appreciated and valued.
- Social and work may well not mix, but that doesn’t mean they need to be separate. Having fun together now and again is really motivating. It doesn’t need to be over the top ‘come dressed as a clown’ day events (unless you think that would be appropriate) but a small thing like dress down days or doughnuts on the house as a thank you for hard work are simple ways to show appreciation.
- Feeling listened to and appreciated is vital to good teams. A solid and interactive two-way appraisal system will not just boost the confidence of the employee, but it may well produce some new ideas and better working practices.
- Celebrate achievement. Everyone likes a pat on the back now and again, so it’s good to acknowledge a colleague who has achieved something. Again there is often no need for ceremony or grand gestures just enough to say well done or thank you is sufficient.
- Remember individuality is important to the individual. Everyone is different, and a good positive workplace tends to reflect that.
- Talk the upside all the time. Keep an eye on the mood of people around you and try to always look for the benefits or potential rewards.
Finally then, let’s picture the scene:
It’s a Monday morning in early February, and you are on your way to work. It’s raining outside, and the wind is driving in at exactly the right angle to get into every slight gap in your winter coat. You are already late, the car park is full, and not only do you need to park a long way from the entrance, but as you are rushing in, you manage to stand in a puddle that soaks into your socks. Needless to say that when you arrive at work, you are somewhat grumpy, to say the least. Will a happy and positive workplace change your mood?
No, of course not. You are wet, cold and fed up, so that isn’t going to change instantly, but, a strong positive culture could well make it just a bad morning and not the start of a toxic day.
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