10 Ways to Create a Positive Work Environment

We spend so much of our life at work!  One Gallup report showed the average time worked by full-time employees has ticked up to 46.7 hours a week, or nearly a full extra eight-hour day. Just 40 percent of Americans who work full time say they clock the standard 40 hours a week. Another 50 percent say they work more than that.

As we consider the increasing amount of time we spend at work it’s no wonder that many of us are considering how we can create a more positive work environment, especially when we have no authority to make changes.   Apart from the responsibilities that come with a job, perhaps the single most important thing that influences employee motivation and happiness (and how productive and efficient they are), is their working environment.

The reality is the attitude we bring to work plays a big part!  Our colleagues, and our boss, have a huge impact on our work experience. One of the best ways to improve their attitude is to model the behavior we want to see in them. If we show respect, trust, patience and encouragement, we are more likely to receive them in return.

Figure 1: from http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/


Try these tips for creating a more positive environment at your workplace!


1. Give positive reinforcement

Say things like:

I’m impressed with…
I really enjoy working with you because…
I appreciate the way you…
I admire the way you take the time to…
You’re really good at…
Your team couldn’t be successful without your…

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated.

2. Show your gratitude Thank someone for something they did but weren’t expecting to get thanked for – be specific.  The second you thank someone, they feel like they matter in a way that gives our work a sense of purpose.

3. Motivate others
Post a new inspiring picture, poster or quote at your desk or work station in a place where everyone can see it

4. Spread happiness
Smile!  Say “hello” and “good morning” to people.

5. Start with positivity
Start a meeting off by sharing something positive that is going on in your group, project, work etc. Encourage others to do the same.

6. Encourage positive thinking
Anonymously post a positive quote or picture in the breakroom, by the copier or coffee machine, or any place that receives high foot traffic.

7. Celebrate
Find some occasion to celebrate with others, whether it be a project milestone, a birthday, a holiday, or a new account.

8. Change the way you respond
When someone disagrees with you about something at work, think “how interesting” instead of immediately getting defensive.  Your entire team has great ideas. It’s tempting to stick with protocol because you know that works well. But these days the world moves so fast nobody can afford to stay with a status quo for too long. So instead, make it a policy to listen to new ideas.

9.  Encourage fun
Add some fun to everyone’s day by picking a day for a dress-up or desk-decorating theme.

10.  Teamwork
Most people like working in teams.  When people work in teams, they see themselves as a group that works towards the attainment of a common goal, rather than just a bunch of individuals competing against each other.  It also allows for synergy:  the combined output of a team is more than the output of each individual added together. Or in other words, 2+2=5!

You may also like: 7 Keys to Creating the Best Work Environment (Infographic)

Keeping your employees happy and productive doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.