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5 Characteristics of a Positive Workplace Culture

Employees placing more weight on workplace culture than ever before

positive team

One of our favourite Jim Collins quotes says “One of the things we’ve learned in all our research is that it all begins with people.”  


Without great people, an organisation’s success can risk becoming obsolete. As leaders, getting the people right is crucial, and you can’t do that with a weak workplace culture.  If it’s one thing we now know in a post-pandemic workplace, it’s that employees are placing far more weight on workplace culture than ever before. In most cases, it’s the deciding factor to stay, leave or accept a role.  


When employees share their values, core beliefs and strong connections with their team and workplace it makes a big difference. In fact, the research says it’s paramount. And most high-level executives agree - when employees are happy, the company is more likely to thrive and 94% of executives believe that workplace culture has a direct link to a company’s success.  


So, just in case you wanted to know more, here are some classic characteristics we’ve found reflect a positive workplace you’ll want to be a part of.  

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What Exactly is Workplace Culture?  


In short, each and every organisation creates their own workplace culture. It’s an evolving collaboration of beliefs, values and behaviours within an organisation from the top to the bottom. And it plays a huge impact on employee’s wellbeing, attitude and work ethic.  


Workplace culture is more than a statement or a sign, it needs to be put into practice. Humans are social learners, in other words we do as we see. So, if an employee sees gossip, back talking, eye rolling and displaying a lack of work ethic or accountability, it’ll seep into how they feel and act. And it ripples through from the top down.  


It’s not always stagnant, it’s always evolving and changing with the people that come and go. But once a workplace culture has set its roots into the mindset of employees, it’s hard to dilute. Very hard.  


Positive vs. Toxic Workplace Culture 


Luckily, we now place more emphasis on employee behaviour. We know the distinguishing factors between what is considered a healthy and an unhealthy workplace. Here’s what we know:  


According to a 2011 study, a positive workplace culture is likely to include:  


  • Treating team members with respect and care  
  • Practicing compassion and offering support  
  • Avoid blaming others for mistakes or errors  
  • Motivate, boost, inspire and champion those around you  
  • Building relationships based on trust, gratitude and integrity  


Meanwhile, classic signs of a toxic workplace culture may include:  


  • High absenteeism & high turnover 
  • Low morale  
  • Disrespectful and passive aggressive language shared between employees  
  • Fear of failure  
  • General dysfunction or no clear direction  
  • Bullying, cliques and gossip  


Other characteristics such as micromanaging, playing favourites, lack of positive recognition and all-round stress inducers, otherwise known as diminishing traits according to Multipliers author and one of our global headline speakers Liz Wiseman.  


It may not always be intentional, but the way we act around our team and colleagues filters through and sticks. Leaders have enormous influence in they way they lead and impact your team, Liz told event delgates.  


5 Characteristics of a Strong, Positive Workplace Culture 

Every workplace is unique, but when it comes to workplace culture, some behaviours standout from others. 

Brenè Brown said it herself, “when we build cultures at work where there is zero tolerance for vulnerability, where perfectionism and armour are rewarded and necessary, we can’t have productive conversations.” 


With that in mind, let’s have a look at 5 characteristics of a positive workplace culture that any employee would want to be a part of:  

Strong, Purposeful Vision, Values and Ethos  


Workplace culture starts at the core and works its way out. That is, employees, teams and leaders all need purpose, defined values and an actionable ethos. This is guide employees as well as reflects the company’s direction.  


Knowing what you’re achieving, striving towards and represent are key ingredients in a successful organisation. It’s not just words slapped into a mission statement for marketing collateral, it’s actionable values, guiding attitudes and clear goals that shape an organisation.  


Company loyalty and employee engagement are both attributed to a clear, strong set of values. So, when a company is clear on these points, employees are more likely to exhibit these behaviours and feel accountable for representing their organisation.  


Leadership & Teams Favour Collaboration  


The initial few months of any new role is an insightful indicator of the long term. The onboarding experience, learning opportunities and how teams work together are all dead give aways when it comes to workplace culture. In fact, the research says that 31% leave the workplace in the first six months. If collaboration tactics and learning opportunities are poor or flat out non-existant, chances are the workplace culture could be better.  


When employees and teams collaborate, they share knowledge, build rapport and build trust with one another. The workplace becomes a safe place to exchange ideas, learn from mistakes and nurture social connections. We often find this when implementing learning and development programs focussing on interactive and peer learning.  


It also indirectly builds confidence, improves employee performance and boosts morale. When employees work towards a shared goal, a sense of community and unity grows. There’s learning opportunities, it lowers the likelihood of workplace bullying and helps to shape interactions and lower the chance of creating biases between one another.  



Strong Focus on Inclusivity & Opportunity  


Stephen Covey said it best - “Habits of ineffectiveness are rooted in our social conditioning toward quick-fix, short-term thinking.” 


But what does this mean?  


Well, the road to success should not be limited to only your next step. As leaders and managers, there’s more demand than ever to think ahead when it comes to your teams. Inclusivity and opportunity go hand in hand with feelings of value, equality and being nurtured. 


When a business invests in their teams, they also invest in equal opportunity for career development and progression. Everyone gets access to the same opportunity, rewards and perks - it’s welcoming.  


 While inclusivity is only one part of it, opportunity to grow is another. A vast majority of people want more than the 9-5. They want to go further and relish the chance to develop their career. In fact, the research says that 76% of employees want on the job training.  


We all know the difference learning and development has on employee engagement and satisfaction. Companies who provide expectations and the resources to advance an employee's career are providing the foundations of a positive workplace environment - one based on valuing, investing and encouraging employees to fulfil their potential.  




Teams Can Strive to Meet Goals, Rewards and Recognition  


Motivation has a huge impact on employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction. In fact, about 84% of employees and 83% of leaders believe this. Reward systems that provide additional benefits or recognition can make a big difference - when they understand their hard work is not only appreciated but acknowledged, they feel valued.  


Clear goals, transparent paths for progression and measurable performance indicators are also important. Better yet, when these milestones or goals are met, they can be celebrated.  



Effective Communication & Feedback  


Positivity rarely stems from ambiguity or confusion. So when employees do not receive clear guidelines or are unable to have productive conversations with management, it’s likely result in frustration. Tasks may not be completed correctly, it may result in a bottleneck of delays or a general distaste for the organisation.  


Effective communication is the lifeline of any successful team and organisation. Employees must be about to understand what they’re doing, what it’s for and why. Whether it’s communication between departments or providing feedback, it all comes down to three factors: being clear, concise and proactive.  


Discover Leading Workplace Culture Strategies with Our Leadership Pass  


A Positive workplace culture reflects a strong team, clear values and a definitive path for growth. It ripples into crucial indicators of an organisations success like employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction and staff retention. Our Growth Faculty Pass gives you access to the best minds in leadership and effective strategies with weekly live, interactive and virtual masterclasses to discover leading workplace culture strategies.   


Our authors and speakers include Jim Collins, Liz Wiseman, Stephen Covey, Whitney Johnson and more.   

 If you'd like to increase your professional and personal development why not consider becoming a Growth Faculty Pass. Unlimited access to 40 live virtual masterclasses and Global Headliner virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content at On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. See who's up next.

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