How to Foster Positivity in the Workplace

Posted by Kathi Guiney on April 17, 2013, Management Issues | No Comments

How strong is the power of one positive attitude?

One positive attitude helped turn around a company’s dysfunctional dynamic.  We at YES! Your Human Resources Solution  recently heard from an employee who left her employer after just one year of service—yet she had managed to change the entire company’s view of her department.  Years of working with a standoffish and unkind office manager had taught others in the company to stay away from this department.  People wrote the department off as unhelpful and ineffective.  Communications and employee relations fell apart.  Then came this new office manager, who did business with kindness and respectfulness.  Many people told her that her positive attitude was a “breath of fresh air.”  Thanks to one employee’s approachability, people felt like they could do  effective business with this department again, instead of being kept at arm’s length.

So what happened here? Perhaps most important is that employees respond well to kindness and positivity.  Think about it—how hard do people want to work for a boss whose “Good morning” is a grunt?  How often do they want to talk to a coworker who barks at every question?  Negative, unapproachable attitudes are contagious and can quickly infect an office with decreased morale and productivity.  The good news: positive attitudes are also contagious.

As a manager or HR professional, you may not be able to forcefully change people’s attitudes, but you can take measures to encourage positive thinking.  This new thinking can then foster positive attitudes and kindness.   To inspire positive thinking in your office, try these steps:

  • Employees love to be recognized for a job well done.  After all, they work hard for the company every day.  Be sure to regularly thank employees for the work they do, and not just for the big projects.  Consider implementing contests or recognition programs that will keep employees positive and motivated to perform.
  • Employees also like to feel like they play a part in steering company culture and operations.  Think about an open-door policy where employees can freely (and respectfully) voice their suggestions on what is working and what isn’t.  Alternately, for anonymity, consider a physical or electronic suggestion box.  Be sure to actually listen to employee input and implement any ideas that sound promising.
  • Bring “just because” donuts.  No, really—employees appreciate free food, especially if it comes unexpectedly.  The food can be as elaborate as a catered lunch or as simple as a shared box of chocolates.  You may just find that happy tummies make for happier employees.
  • If someone seems gloomy or down, do your best to respect that mood.  Everyone has a bad day.  Don’t try to change a negative mood by telling that person to smile or chin up.  Try not to use sarcasm to draw attention to an “especially chipper mood.”  Though your intentions might be good, you can put that person in an even worse mood.

If even one positive attitude can have a profound effect on everything from employee relations to daily operations, just think what an office full of positive people could do!


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