How to create a positive culture in the workplace

three colleagues celebrating their positive culture in the workplace

Here's the stark reality of 2023: Half of employees are ‘quiet quitting’1 (doing the bare minimum at work) and nearly 70% of Gen Z and Millennials2 are planning to actually quit this year.

What's a long-term, effective way to win workers back and improve organizational outcomes? Create a positive work culture.

Be warned: It's not easy, and it certainly isn't fast – but it does last. True culture change happens through listening, understanding, creating a plan and using consistent behaviors. To do that, you'll need a performance platform built for improving culture, which is why we'll show you how Fingerprint for Success (F4S) can help you (plus, it's free!).

Let’s get started.

Table of contents
What is a positive workplace culture?
What are 5 benefits of positive work culture?
12 ways to create a positive culture in the workplace
Positive company culture examples
What does the future hold for positive workplace cultures?

What is a positive workplace culture?

What is workplace culture in the first place? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), organizational culture is made up of how you3:

‘Positive work culture’ gets thrown around without explanation of what it looks like. To help you ascertain your own culture, let's look at the words used by real-life employees who describe their own organizational culture as positive3-4:

  • Caring
  • Supportive
  • Engaging
  • Honest
  • Adaptable
  • Progressive
  • Empathetic

In short, a positive work culture is one in which its people feel supported, cared for, engaged and feel psychologically safe to speak their minds and take risks. This all shows up in the way they business and its people operate, interact and make decisions.

What are 5 benefits of positive work culture?

A positive work culture is good for your people and your business. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, researchers Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron say a
"large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line6."

Let's look at the latest research of the benefits of positive company culture:

1. More engaged employees

Employees who report a positive workplace culture are 3.8 times more likely to be engaged4.

2. Better employee retention

  • 59% of disengaged employees say they would leave their organization for one with a better culture, compared with only 23% of highly engaged employees who say the same. This suggests there's a strong link between positive workplace culture, employee engagement and retention4.
  • 90% of workers who say their organization has a poor workplace culture have thought about quitting, while only 32% who say their organizational culture is good have thought about quitting3.

3. Higher job satisfaction

70% of workers who rate their culture as poor dread going into work, compared with only 24% of workers who rate their culture as good3.

4. Stronger organizational and employee performance

Research has found a strong link between workplace culture and company performance 8-9.

5. Healthy, happy employees

A strong company culture has been linked to higher engagement and lower stress and depression for employees10.

12 ways to create a positive culture in the workplace

1. Understand each individual's unique work motivations

What makes your team tick? If you don't know, you won't know how to create a healthy culture with and for them.

Instead of guessing, you can use a scientific assessment to know for sure. The free F4S assessment is based on 20+ years of research on high-performing individuals. It takes a few minutes to complete, and you'll instantly gain access to a detailed report of the 48 traits that influence how a person works, communicates and behaves.

F4S team dashboard shows work preferences
F4S team dashboard

Take the F4S assessment now so you can understand how you and your team members operate.

2. Assess your corporate culture

Once you have an understanding on the individual level, it's time to take a look at your workforce as a whole. Before you can enact real change, you'll need to get a baseline –  it’s time to assess your current company culture.

F4S has a groundbreaking feature called the Culture Map, which contextualizes data across all your office locations (truly useful for global companies!), so you can see how your London office culture compares to your LA office. It takes it even further by providing you with expert advice on how to fix friction points and bring alignment across all your teams.

Have your entire team across locations take the F4S assessment so you can generate the most helpful data for the Culture Map. This will be your baseline. From here, you can have your teams periodically re-take the F4S assessment to see how your culture is shifting over time.

3. Refresh your employer branding

If you have poor workplace culture, it's worth doing a refresh of your employer branding.

According to SHRM: "A positive employer brand communicates that the organization is a good employer and a great place to work. Employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market11."

To begin, establish a new vision and mission statement along with core values. These will serve as the North Star that your teams can follow to get to a healthy culture.

4. Find ways to operationalize your company's core values

Defining your core values is one thing, but to create a true culture change, you need to live them every day. That involves operationalizing them: in other words, build them into the way you work every day.

Some ideas:

  • During decision-making, use your core company values as a guide that points you to the right choice
  • Reward employees periodically for living out a company value. Show them how they demonstrated that value, so it becomes second nature to everyone
  • When designing your L&D programs, align them to the core company values. For example, if giving back is a value, consider incorporating mentoring into your L&D programs as a way for leaders to give back to their direct reports.

5. Invest in your employees' personal and professional growth

Employees crave meaning and growth in their work. Offer options for personal and professional development to show that you care about them as individuals and are willing to provide for their needs. One way you can encourage employee growth is by making coaching available to them. Coach Marlee is a free way to provide AI-based coaching online, and your employees can learn anything from how to be more emotionally intelligent to how to step into their personal power.

Encourage them to take the free assessment. Then they can set a goal and Coach Marlee will provide insights and recommend the best coaching program to support their goal. 90% of our users report completing their goal in 4- 9 weeks!

Personalized insights for your goal

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6. Reinvent your work environment

To create a healthy culture, consider the work environment you create for your employees. Whether they're fully remote, completely in-office or hybrid, they're still mindful of the environment you create.

To help with work-life balance, consider implementing flexible work schedules where employees can choose to work at the times they feel most alert. In fact, a 2021 study found that altering an employee's work schedule reduced the chances of job stress by 20% and boosted the chances of job satisfaction by 62%12!

7. Cultivate community

For those on a remote team with flexible schedules, it's particularly challenging to create and maintain a strong culture – but it's not impossible. Create opportunities for employees to bond virtually, whether that's through video coffee chats, lunch and learns, Slack community channels or regular team meetings.

It can also be helpful to create a physical space for remote and hybrid teams to work in to improve the employee experience and so they can foster social connections and bond with teams in person. Some companies choose to provide a coworking stipend for remote employees who live far from offices, so they can build meaningful relationships with their teams.

And lastly, improve the relationships between employees by helping everyone gain a better understanding of how to motivate each other. You can do this by adding each individual to the Teams dashboard of F4S. There they'll be able to see how each person prefers to work and communicate, and receive expert tips on how to better motivate each team member.

8. Promote diversity and inclusion

Cognitive diversity, which involves incorporating unique perspectives, is a sign of a healthy culture. But unless you intentionally build it, you're likely to accidentally create a homogenous workforce (which doesn't lend itself well to innovation).

Using the F4S assessment and analytics dashboard will  ensure your team is full of people with different ways of thinking and problem-solving approaches.

For example, you can see how a team scores across Attention to Detail versus Big Picture Thinking. In a decision-making situation, you want a team that is skilled in both! If everyone only looked at the details, you'd miss out on the overall picture. Conversely, if everyone only looked at the finer details, you'd miss the big picture. By having a team that can bring a fresh perspective from across the spectrum, you'll make better decisions and come up with more creative solutions!

9. Foster psychological safety

Psychological safety is a crucial facet of a healthy company culture. Without it, employees live in fear of reprimand, suppress their true feelings and fear speaking up.

How can you ensure employees feel psychologically safe? It has to start from the top. Encourage leaders to be open and vulnerable, expressing their honest concerns and giving frequent feedback. When employees see that it's okay for leaders to speak their mind, they'll be more likely to do it themselves.

On top of that, it's important that when an employee expresses an opinion or concern, it's taken seriously. Implement the changes you’ve promised you'll make, and your workers will see that you take their feedback to heart.

10. Use the right tools to create effective communication

Honest communication and transparency are the hallmarks of positive culture in the workplace. Start by auditing your tech stack and leveraging apps to improve the flow of effective communication across in-office and remote employees. When used smartly, tools like Slack, Miro, Asana, and Trello can increase transparency organization-wide.

11. Ensure your leaders lead the culture change

Cultural change starts from the top. How are your leaders modeling a healthy culture to your employees?

Get them involved in creating a positive work environment. Some ideas include:

  • Requiring one-on-ones for leaders to check in on direct reports' performance and wellbeing
  • Involving leaders in developing L&D, employee recognition and career development programs
  • Training your leadership team on how to model healthy boundaries and work-life balance to their direct reports
  • Ensuring leader buy-in on the employer brand, company values and plan for cultural change

To help boost your leaders' self-confidence, have them take our Personal Power online coaching program. In it, they'll learn about their impact on employees and how to harness their power to influence your people and culture in positive ways.

12. Encourage employee wellbeing

A commitment to employee happiness means encouraging their wellbeing across all aspects of health, especially mental health! More than three-quarters of employees in the US say that mental health is hurting their work13.

Show your employees you care by pairing them up with Coach Marlee (our free AI coach). In the Vital Wellbeing program, Marlee helps people develop:

  • Emotional resilience
  • Boundary-setting abilities
  • Better self-esteem

As one coachee put it: "This program helped me kickstart my journey to wellbeing. Never could I have imagined an AI coach being this good – as if you're talking to a real human and Marlee made me accountable to my goals. Super awesome experience that you definitely have to try!”

Positive company culture examples

When you're trying to achieve a goal, it helps to look to role models who have gone before you. Here are some positive company culture examples to get you started on a path to success:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a prime example of how it's never too late to turn things around. When Satya Nadella stepped in as CEO in 2014, Microsoft's culture wasn't healthy. As he writes in his book, Hit Refresh: "Microsoft’s culture had been rigid. Each employee had to prove to everyone that he or she was the smartest person in the room."

But today, Microsoft seems to have a very healthy company culture, having been ranked as number one on Comparably's Best Global Company Culture list14.

Canva

Canva was named as a 2023 Best Place to Work by BuiltIn. This fast-growing unicorn company uses the F4S Culture Map to deeply understand the unique attitudes of their employees across Australia, the US, the Philippines and China to help leverage their differences and align on their similarities. This has helped them create an inclusive workplace.

Investible

Remember how we said communication is key to a healthy culture? Early-stage investment group Investible used F4S to help improve communication between two feuding co-founders. By having them take the F4S assessment, they discovered that the frequent arguments between the two co-founders were sparked by differences in their communication styles (affective versus neutral). Equipped with this understanding, they were able to find common ground and learn ways to cater to each others’ styles, reducing conflict and promoting a more positive team culture.

What does the future hold for positive workplace cultures?

As workers continue to take back their power, their expectations for a healthy workplace culture remain high. It's no longer enough to offer competitive compensation and hope for the best. O.C. Tanner predicts a culture trend of higher expectations from workers, saying: "Employees want more from work. More than a high salary or unique perks and benefits, they want the sense of fulfillment that comes from doing work that has a purpose and feeling that they belong to their workplace community15."

Job candidates are actively seeking employers with a strong company culture, including one that provides opportunities for growth, creates a collaborative environment, fosters inclusivity and aligns with their personal values.

Start creating a positive culture at work

Gain a better understanding of what motivates your teams and take the free F4S assessment. From there, you can use free, personalized coaching to improve outcomes for individual employees and show them that you care as you work to build a stronger, healthier culture.

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[1] Harter, J. (2023) 'Is Quiet Quitting Real?'. Available at: Gallup. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/398306/quiet-quitting-real.aspx

[2] Legate-Wolfe, A. (2023) 'Almost 70% of US workers plan to leave their jobs in 2023 — and Gen Z, millennials are blazing the trail. 3 tips to successfully carve out a new career path this year'. Available at: Yahoo. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-quit-close-70-us-120000350.html

[3] (2022) 'Strengthening Workplace Culture: A Tool for Retaining and Empowering Employees Globally'. Available at: SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/SHRM%202022%20Global%20Culture%20Report.pdf

[4] (2022) '2022 Organizational Culture Research Report'. Available at: Quantum Workplace. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/organizational-culture-research-report

[6] Seppälä, E and Cameron, K. (2015) 'Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive'. Available at: Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive

[8] Abane, J.A., Adamtey, R. & Ayim, V.O. (2022) 'Does organizational culture influence employee productivity at the local level? A test of Denison's culture model in Ghana’s local government sector'. Available at: SpringerOpen. https://fbj.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s43093-022-00145-5

[9] Kim, J and Jung, H.S. (2022) 'The Effect of Employee Competency and Organizational Culture on Employees’ Perceived Stress for Better Workplace'. Available at: National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9032235/

[10] Marenus MW, Marzec M, Chen W. (2022) 'Association of Workplace Culture of Health and Employee Emotional Wellbeing'. Available at: National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9564377/

[11] 'What is an employer brand, and how can we develop an employment branding strategy?'. Available at: SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/employer-brand-strategy.aspx

[12] Ray TK, Pana-Cryan R. (2021) 'Work Flexibility and Work-Related Well-Being'. Available at: National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004082/

[13] (2021) '2021 Mental Health at Work Report'. Available at: Mind Share Partners. https://www.mindsharepartners.org/mentalhealthatworkreport-2021

[14] (2022) 'Best Global Culture 2022'. Available at: Comparably. https://www.comparably.com/awards/winners/best-global-culture-2022-large

[15] (2023) '5 Culture Trends for 2023'. Available at: O.C. Tanner. https://www.octanner.com/insights/white-papers/5-culture-trends-for-2023.html

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