Why positive work cultures are more productive

Last updated:
May 26, 2022
May 27, 2022
min read
Sim Samra
positive work cultures
Table of contents

Thousands of companies use high-pressured, cut-throat work environments to ensure ongoing growth and financial success. For many years, the belief that this was the most effective method of driving employee productivity held fast.

But modern organizational psychology research tells a different tale.

This expanding body of evidence shows that a stressful, highly competitive work environment can harm businesses’ productivity levels over time.

Creating positive work cultures can create significant and lasting benefits for companies, employers, and profit margins alike.

This is particularly true for the recruitment and hiring of talented new staff members, who will actively seek companies with inviting and supportive cultures in place.

What the evidence suggests

Many businesses assume that pushing their employees to perform will encourage them to achieve the productivity and output level that they expect. Unfortunately, there are several pitfalls associated with this approach. One of the most notable is the hidden costs attached.

Statistically, high-pressure businesses’ health care expenses are over 50% higher than other organizations with positive work cultures.

According to the American Psychological Association, the US economy loses over half a trillion dollars per annum because of workplace stress.

Also, work-related stresses lead to around the same number of workdays (550 billion) lost every year. Stress causes between 60% and 80% of serious workplace accidents, and this account for four-fifths of doctors’ visits.

Stress in the workplace is categorically linked to health disorders like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and even early death. Companies looking to focus on talent acquisition should create a positive work culture to prioritize keeping this talent healthy, productive, and satisfied.

Dissecting the office environment

The stress produced by unhealthy office hierarchies has links to illness and high mortality. Some studies have revealed that lower-ranking workers within hierarchies suffer from a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks.

One study, conducted by the Karolinska Institute, showed a direct correlation between stress-inducing leadership behavior and employee heart disease rates.

Disengagement is another cost of negative work culture. A culture of fear and stress can indeed ensure engagement for some employees, but research shows that the added pressure will make your workers disengage in the long run.

Studies by Gallup reveal that disengaged workers display 37% more absenteeism, have 49% more accidents, and commit 60% more errors than their peers. Positive work culture has the opposite effect, creating engagement in the workplace and allowing employees to feel valued and respected.

This is true at every step of the hiring process, from recruitment to day-to-day work responsibility fulfillment. Businesses that have engaged employees may enjoy over 100% more applications for vacant positions.

Last but certainly not least is a lack of employee loyalty.

Unhealthy work cultures create stress, which statistically leads to a 50% rise in voluntary staff turnover and reduced talent acquisition. The turnover costs of recruitment, hiring, and training are numerous, and replacing just one employee can cost over 20% of that worker’s salary.

This is why so many companies have implemented workplace perks like wellness programs, benefits, and remote working schedules to create more positive and supportive office cultures.

Another Gallup poll revealed that even when employers offer benefits like remote work opportunities, their workers still prioritized wellbeing over and above these benefits.

Essentially, employees want to ensure their wellbeing within a positive company culture more than they want material or financial incentives.

The key principles of positive workplace cultures

Your business can ensure the wellbeing of its employees through the creation of a positive culture.

This culture should extend from the recruitment and onboarding process to the retention of existing talent. It will ensure all your workers remain satisfied with their positions within your company.

There are several key principles on which you can create a healthy and constructive workplace culture. They are:

1. Caring for and showing genuine interest in the wellbeing of your staff and colleagues

2. Offering compassion, support, and empathy for those who are struggling

3. Providing inspiration and encouragement in the workplace

4. Forgiving errors and mistakes and fostering an ethos of forgiveness

5. Treating all staff members with respect, trust, dignity, and inclusiveness

6. Creating an environment in which required work is meaningful and hard workers receive adequate praise for a job well done.

How to create a positive work culture

Positive work cultures can make talent acquisition easier for your company at every level. They can simplify your recruitment process and allow you to attract plenty of new talent. They also help you hire and retain dedicated staff members and keep your existing employees happy and fulfilled in their positions.

If you don’t have the internal resources to foster this culture or need help with HR, training, and retention, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can be an enormous help.

A PEO will not only manage all your HR, recruitment, onboarding, and ongoing training, they’ll ensure employees receive the best benefits too. This goes a long way towards creating a positive work culture from day one.

5 Steps To Success

These are the 5 key steps to follow to create a supportive workplace culture.

1. Be empathetic

Bosses and managers in leadership roles can have massive impacts on their employees.

One psychological study found that when employees thought about a harsh or non-empathetic boss, their brains showed increased activity in the areas associated with avoidance and negative emotions.

However, their brains displayed the opposite behaviors when they thought about empathetic managers. According to the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan, leaders who showed compassion towards their workers promoted individual and team resilience during tough times.

2. Connect socially

The future of work is human connection.
Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Keynote Speaker | Smiley Poswolsky LLC

So many studies have shown that positive social work connections help to create an equally positive work culture.

People who work in supportive social workplaces suffer from fewer illnesses, less depression, and less pain and discomfort than their peers. They also display better work performance and learn skills faster.

3. Be helpful and supportive

Managers and mentors who help and support their team members foster lasting loyalty in the workplace.

Daan Van Knippenberg of the Rotterdam School of Management notes that supportive leaders’ employees are significantly more cooperative and trusting of their managers. They are also more productive to boot.

4. Lend a compassionate ear

Employee performance improves vastly when they’re able to talk to their leaders openly about their problems and feel that their best interests are taken to heart.

Harvard research has confirmed that a culture of workplace safety created by inclusive, supportive, and humble leaders fosters better recruitment and performance results.

5. Empower your staff

Sheffield University has proven that proper teamwork, training, and employee empowerment can enhance performance and make the talent acquisition process easier for employers.

Leaders who base their actions on interpersonal respect and compassion set an example and empower their team members to do the same.

Professor Adam Grant of Wharton notes that generosity and understanding in leaders foster strong organizational efficiency in businesses.

Companies with positive work cultures have stronger immunities, lower blood pressure and heart disease rates.

Cultivating a positive culture

Are you trying to make your employees more productive?

A positive work culture can go a long way towards encouraging staff engagement, dedication, and consistently outstanding performance.

Happy and respected employees are willing to go the extra mile for their employers, leading to higher bottom lines and improved customer service as a result.

Plus, caring work culture can improve employees’ health, wellbeing, and resilience, making it a vital tool in talent acquisition and retention.

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