How to build a positive work environment?

Magda Pietkiewicz
5 min read

How to build a positive workenvironment

One of the main factorsaffecting employee engagement is their work environment. Here are some tips onhow to manage employee relations and foster a decent work atmosphere, and inturn, build an engaged team.

In offices, in a factory at anoisy machine, from your own couch, or even from the beach - these days, workcan be done from many places, in many different ways. However, it is hard tofind a person who works in complete isolation from other people. Everyone whoworks, to a greater or lesser extent, must cooperate with other people. Thesepeople create a work environment in which we spend most of the day and which,to some extent, influences not only our well-being but also our engagement atwork. 

What does a positive workenvironment bring?

Positive work environment means being surrounded bysupportive, positive people, building personal relationships with them, bonding,and therefore belonging to a team, a comfortable atmosphere. Such a friendlyworkplace is one of the key emotional drivers of employee engagement. Itaffects the fact that employees themselves want to be involved in the work, actfor the benefit of the company.

Creating personal relationships in the organizationbuilds emotional bonds and creates a stronger sense of belonging to the group,acting as a team. Ties and a friendly workplace cause people to perform betterthan those who find the work environment alien and unfriendly. A friendlyatmosphere at work also makes time pass more smoothly. We spend a large part ofour day at work, so how we feel at work affects our mood and overallwell-being.

A good working environment, atmosphere andrelationships between employees are what you need to work on if you want tohave not only engagedand productive, but above all happy employees.

Who builds a positive workenvironment?

Perhaps a large number of people would immediatelyanswer that the employees. And of course, this is true, but it is not only theemployees themselves who are responsible for what the atmosphere in the team islike, what kind of relationships they build among themselves, how they feelwith each other. Managing employee relations is one of the tasks ofsupervisors. The atmosphere at work is therefore a combination of the actionsof employees, supervisors, but also the organizational culture of the company.The most important thing, however, is that each of these components can beworked on, so a positive work environment is something that can be shaped. Buthow to do it? There are many ways, and they must be adjusted to the actualsituation of the company, the specificity of work performed and theorganizational culture itself. Below we present some tips for supervisors,which may prove useful regardless of the circumstances. 


How to create a friendlyworkplace? - tips for managers

1. Work on your and youremployees' Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is essential to managingrelationships at work. This Emotional Intelligence includes empathy;persuasion, understood as the ability to elicit a specific emotion or responsein others; assertiveness; leadership; and collaboration, in other words,establishing relationships and acting with others.

A manager with high Emotional Intelligence can betterempathize with the moods of employees, understand their emotions, and influencethem more efficiently. Such a person will take action to improve the atmosphereat work as soon as he or she senses that employees feel uncomfortable in eachsituation.

It is also worth working on the Emotional Intelligenceof employees - how? The answer to this is courses, trainings, through whichthey will gain greater knowledge of their emotions, learn to better deal with them,and this will certainly positively affect the atmosphere in the team.


2. Treat employees the sameway, do not favor anyone  

Equal treatment and respect from a manager have asignificant impact on how employees feel. Employees may have a goodrelationship with one another, but when they feel that one of their teammembers is receiving special treatment, favoritism, these relationships can beshaken. The sense of injustice is a contributor to conflict. Sometimes it alsoputs favored employees in an awkward position.

Therefore, always ensure that you treat your employeesequally, and if for some reason, for example, you allow one person to havefacilities that are significantly different from others, consider how you cancompensate the others so that they do not feel disadvantaged. But most of all,try to avoid these situations.


3. Assist in conflictresolution

In any team, conflict situations sometimes emerge.Ideally, employees could deal with problems, to resolve them in a constructivemanner. When you, as a manager, see such a situation between employees or findout that a dispute has occurred in the team that employees have not resolved ontheir own, you should step in.

All conflicts should be resolved, not "sweptunder the rug." Why? Overall,they may result in a deterioration of the atmosphere, and the echo of theconflict will return at other, more difficult moments.

As a leader, you should approach the problem withoutunnecessary emotions, listen to the arguments of both sides, not favoring anyof them and not making a priori assumptions about who is right. Developing acommon position should ensure a lasting solution to the problem and consistentimplementation of the planned actions. Above all, try to function as a mediatorand, if possible, do not impose ready-made solutions to the conflict. By doingso, you will ensure a good atmosphere at work. 


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4. Create opportunities forintegration

The reasons for weak relationships in the workplacecan be varied. One of them, especially now, may be the shift of employees toremote work. Relationships in the workplace can suffer as employees losepersonal contact with each other. Not being in the office, having"lunch" or "coffee machine" conversations doesn't give themthe opportunity to learn more about each other. Such familiarity is importanteven when there is little time for interaction during work hours, whichhappens, for example, in manufacturing facilities.

It is important that employees see their colleagues intheir co-workers, to whom they will be able to turn in a demanding situation,or even talk to them during the break and take their minds off their ongoingduties for a moment. Obvious solutions are various types of integration events,Christmas parties, family picnics.

However, it is a good idea to involve the employees indeciding on the way of integration and, for example, the date of the meeting.This should be a pleasant event for them, not a constraint. It may turn out,for example, that a common bowling outing will not be an interesting attractionfor most employees, and the organization of a Christmas Eve meeting on theevening of 6 December will not be the best idea for those who have children andwould like to spend that day with them. In addition, such influence on thedecision has a positive effect on the engagement of employees, shows them thattheir opinions are important, empowers them.


5. Appreciate not onlyindividually but also as a team

An important part of building employee engagement isrecognition. More managers are realizing how crucial it is to give ongoingpositive feedback to employees and are trying to apply it to their daily work.But what can you do to make employees feel that they are a team? Appreciatethem as a team as well.

The individual work of each employee is important, butin many cases, it is the combination of these activities precisely in the formof teamwork that brings the best results. Sometimes it is not even a typical teamwork,but simply support, help given by a co-worker.

That is why the words of appreciation should beaddressed not only to e.g., the project manager or the main programmer in theteam, but to all the people whose work contributed to the success. Thanks tothis the employees will also understand that the support they give is noticedby their superiors and perceived as something positive. Attention should alsobe paid to such aspects when the appreciation takes the form of, for example, abonus. In such a situation, rewarding e.g., only the team leader will contributeto worsening the atmosphere at work and will demotivate employees to act. 

6. Choose employees wisely

Employee relations management is primarily aboutworking with people who are already employed by the company, assigned to aparticular team. However, when a manager could do so by participating in thehiring process, they should consider whether a particular candidate will fitinto the team, into the company culture.

Competencies related to the scope of responsibilitiesare certainly a key point to consider, but it should be asked whether it willbe possible to fully use them if someone completely fails to buildrelationships with other members of the team, or even spoils the existingatmosphere.


7. Pay attention to method ofcommunication

The way you address your employees, the way youcommunicate with them translates to a substantial extent into what kind ofatmosphere prevails at the workplace. When the manager often himself introducesa nervous atmosphere, e.g., through competitive language, it is difficult tocreate a friendly workplace and build relationships. If it becomes a standardin the company for managers to address their subordinates in a rude manner,such behavior may also be transferred to other levels in the organization.

Therefore, pay attention to how you communicate withemployees, whether you set an example for them with your behavior.Additionally, it is worth developing communication as a skill in employees,teach them how to give feedback, how to appreciate others, but also how toaccept criticism. Development of this competence will help to build betterrelationships between employees and will have a positive impact on theirengagement.


8. Create a Friendly Workplace

Managing relationships in the workplace is one side ofthe coin. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that it is easier tobuild positive relations, to create a positive atmosphere, when the placeitself encourages it. It has been known for a long time that e.g., the colorsof walls, intensity of light, noise, vegetation are reflected in human mood.

Pleasant colors in the office, comfortable desks, aplace where you can eat breakfast together or drink coffee and talk are just afew elements that can help create a friendly working environment! 

Build a positive environmentbased on data


It's hard to be an engaged employee when you don'tfeel comfortable with the people you work with, when you can't buildrelationships with them and don't have support from them. A positive workenvironment is something to keep in mind when looking to improve employeeperformance and engagement. Fortunately, it is something that can be shaped.How do you improve the work environment? A considerable influence is not onlythe employees themselves, but their supervisors. It is their task to, amongothers, choose the right team members, solve conflicts, which employees havenot dealt with, or even appreciate successes.

However, the problem turns out to be not only buildingthis environment and managing employee relations but knowing in which areas to act.Employee engagement study may prove useful, in which the issues related toemployee relations and workplace atmosphere are explored in depth. Such a toolcan easily provide current information not only about the engagement itself,but also about what actions should be implemented.

It is crucial that the survey touches upon theemotional dimension of employee engagement, as such aspects constitute animportant basis for creating a good atmosphere in the workplace.

Check out the possibilities of the Enpulse study andbuild a positive work environment.

Magda Pietkiewicz CEO

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