If you’ve ever worked in a negative office environment, you know just how painful and soul-crushing it can be. There are some managers out there who believe that daily yelling and arguing with their employees is the best way to assert authority, and the best way to get things done. But studies show that’s not the case. As ForbesWoman Contributor Alexa Thompson says in 5 Quick Ways You Can Bring Positive Psychology to Your Workplace, intimidation is not the answer. Reports show that employees who feel valued and happy at work are far more productive than those who have to work in fear.
In a tough economy where most of us are happy to have jobs, how do you make sure your office stays a positive environment? Thompson offers a few suggestions on how to make your office friendlier without bringing in an expensive coach. The first tip seems basic, but it goes a long way: Practice thankfulness. But thankfulness should be natural, not forced:
Forcing employees to state something for which they are grateful, or say something positive about a co-worker, can seem insincere. Managers who make it a habit to send just one e-mail a day recognizing someone’s contribution, or executives who start meetings by focusing on positive strides or outstanding contributors, often find that a more positive tone follows naturally. Feeling appreciated, many experts say, is usually the first step to being truly satisfied on the job.”
If you’re not a manager, try simply expressing your thankfulness more often to fellow coworkers. Maybe someone was a really strong contributor on a project this week or someone helped you finish a task under a tight deadline — let them know you really appreciate it, and that they did a good job. The same goes for your boss. If he or she helped you secure a new client, thank them for taking time to help you. Managers are under pressure too, and could sometimes use a boost when it’s deserved.
Another great way to increase both your own positivity and that of the workplace is to exercise and practice mindfulness. Thompson says many companies are now offering fitness or exercise perks, such as gym memberships or wellness fairs for their employees. Studies show that it’s working: a CNBC report on workplace wellness programs found that more than half of the employees felt more productive.
When an employee feels happier, she tends to stay with a company longer. Today, people are less likely to stay at one job, but if an employee feels valued, she might not feel a need to leave. One way to show an employee that she is valued is through a mentoring program:
A worker who feels like her company has invested in her development and actually cares about her progress is usually more productive, as well as more likely to remain, than one who feels she is just another cog in the wheel. Establishing mentoring relationships for new hires is one of the best ways to start fostering this sort of worker-employer camaraderie, right from the start.”
Your office might not be implementing a mentoring program right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on the lookout for a mentor. If there is someone in the company you admire, do what you can to get to know the person and ask him or her questions.
If managers are interested, Thompson says, the company could hire a “happiness trainer” to lead a seminar or retreat. A trainer can be expensive, but it could have long-term benefits. If a trainer isn’t an option, taking small steps to increase positivity in the workplace could provide enough of a boost for everyone. Be kind to yourself and your coworkers — you might be pleasantly surprised at how far gratitude can take you and your company.
Read more of Thompson’s tips here.