4 ways to create a positive work culture

Employee engagement and workplace wellbeing are keys to organizational success. However, some workplaces convey the perception to employees that success can only come from working conditions that include high levels of stress.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Emma Seppälä, PhD, author of The Happiness Track, and Kim Cameron, PhD, author of Positive Leadership, outline how to turn your workplace into a healthy environment.

Here are four ways bosses can craft a positive work culture for employees, according to Dr. Seppälä and Dr. Cameron.

1. Encourage social relationships. "A large number of empirical studies confirm that positive social connections at work produce highly desirable results," wrote the authors. These results include less illness, higher pain tolerance and lower levels of depression. By encouraging employees to view each other as friends rather than just colleagues, you'll help foster a better workplace environment.

2. Be understanding and compassionate. For better or worse, the way a boss acts directly correlates to how employees feel. A 2012 study published in The Leadership Quarterly found when people recalled experiences with encouraging leaders, the area of the brain associated with positive emotions was activated. When subjects recalled experiences with harsh bosses, the area of the brain tied to negative emotions was activated. Bosses should strive to treat employees with kindness and respect.

3. Be willing to help in all circumstances. "Ever had a manager or mentor who took a lot of trouble to help you when he or she did not have to? Chances are you have remained loyal to that person to this day," Dr. Seppälä and Dr. Cameron wrote. An article in The Journal of Positive Psychology revealed that when bosses go out of their way to assist their employees, the employees are more likely to do the same for one another. Maintaining a supportive environment is essential to success.

4. Foster a culture of trust. Rather than blaming employees for their mistakes or negatively reacting to their difficulties, bosses should make their employees feel comfortable talking to them — even about their professional problems. In a study in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, researchers found leaders create an environment of empowerment when their employees trust them.

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