Positivity = Productivity
There is no doubt about it: the word ‘uncertain’ has been used a lot lately to describe our work lives, personal lives – and really our world.
It can be hard to believe that a mental state, like a feeling of uncertainty, can manifest physical effects, but research shows that this could be true. For example, one study found that job uncertainty can take more of a toll on your health than actually losing your job.
So, how can we navigate uncertainty?
The answer may be positivity.
A study at John Hopkins University found that people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event than those with a more negative outlook.
Furthermore, there are studies indicating that smiling – even fake smiling – helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate during stressful situations.
And, while personal positivity may be good for your health, workplace cultural positivity may be good for your team and organization.
- Improved teamwork
- Higher morale
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- Enhanced job satisfaction and retention
- Better work performance
So how, then, do you create and foster a positive workplace culture as a leader in your organization?
(1) Establish your organization’s direction through strategic planning
When everyone understands and truly believes in the direction of an organization, this creates a positive culture.
Feeling that you are part of an organization with a clear vision and purpose fosters a sense of belonging and positivity. But it is not just a great strategic plan that builds this positive culture; when creating a strategic plan, the process is just as important as the product. When defining your organization’s direction, it’s important that team members are involved and bought in at every stage.
Consultation and communication are core to ensuring not only that your strategic plan is right but that it is resonant: an inclusive process ensures team members feel connected to your organization’s vision, mission, purpose, and values and helps to build a more purposeful, positive, and connected workplace culture.
As a leader, it is also important that you visibly live out the ethos of your organization, so that team members are inspired to live your organization’s values each day.
(2) Create a culture that fosters social connections
There is plenty of research to support the benefits of social connections at work. When work relationships are strong, organizations see;
- Less sickness
- Faster illness recovery
- Less depression
- Faster learning and better memory retention
- More mental acuity
- Better performance
It is important to remember that many people spend the majority of their time at work. Fostering a culture that encourages connection and camaraderie can be a strategy to help build positivity in the workplace. This could include “forced fun time,” bonding activities such as team lunches, or empowering a social committee with a set monthly budget.
(3) Lead with empathy
Organizational leaders have a major impact on how team members feel. They set the tone for how everyone at the organization behaves.
As a leader, try to show empathy – especially given our current context.
In our work, we often ask clients and partners where they see opportunity for cultural growth; the answer commonly revolves around a disconnect and lack of understanding between leadership and the rest of the organization.
Listening to team members across departments and levels can go a long way. Show that you are hearing people by asking smart questions and taking swift action to address concerns. Transparency goes hand-in-hand with empathy – being honest, both with information and with your thinking – can build a sense of connection and shared humanity. Having deliberate strategies to connect and build understanding with your team can go a long way in establishing a more positive workplace culture.
Although it may be hard to see a ‘feeling’ as a contributor to something tangible – positivity is good for health and productivity. And, positivity is actually not that difficult to foster. It does not have to be some grand act. It could be as simple as asking your colleague about their day or scheduling a 15-minute call to get to know somebody better. We encourage everyone to think about how we can all contribute to a positive workplace culture.
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