Gabriel Dumont Institue


Creating and Maintaining Positive Work Culture

Oct 4, 2018

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By Jim Edmondson

Working in a positive environment presents many benefits to both employees and the organization. It starts with better health, thanks to an absence of stress and other negative factors. … Employees in a positive culture are more engaged in their work, value teamwork with their colleagues, and are more loyal to their organization.

Positive workplace culture
Managers want their company to be a great place to work, and their employees to look forward to coming to work. In short, they want a positive work culture. A key element of such a workplace is a clear, unambiguous purpose, expressed as a simple ‘big idea’, an idea which all staff relate to closely, and are proud to discuss with friends and colleagues. Some characteristics of positive workplace culture are presented below.

There is an atmosphere of confidence, where all employees feel welcome, support each other, and project this confidence towards clients and students.

Staff who behave respectfully towards each other, value each other’s views and opinions, and work in teams which are places of mutual support. A positive corporate culture involves a workplace where anything is debated without a hint of humiliation, where the critique of the individual and team work is welcomed, discussed and where lessons are learnt and implemented.

Staff who ‘go the extra mile’ by providing unsolicited ideas, thoughts, stimulus to each other, and where their interests in the students and clients offers something that is more than expected. It goes beyond courtesy and service to include attentiveness and personal interest.

Challenges for their staff, that provide opportunities for personal development though new experiences, and which treat everyone with fairness and understanding.

As well, a positive corporate culture is where members of staff are personally driven towards organisational and personal success – intellectually, financially, socially and emotionally.

Because the company culture influences everything and everyone, a well-developed company culture creates positive changes across the organization in every area, including:

Financial Benefits
At the economic level, a well-developed culture enables dramatic, sustained increases in productivity and performance. This is no surprise given that psychologists estimate that the average employee contributes only 20% of their potential. A culture that deeply engages people is understandably much more productive. Theoretically there is no limit to improved productivity, so long as leaders keep working on the culture.

A well-developed company culture is a powerful recruiting point. Organizations with an open, participative workplace, where people enjoy working, and have broad opportunities for growth and creativity, attract top candidates. One of the measures of an excellent work culture is that existing employees urge their friends to join. When employees do this, they are typically highly selective, inviting only people they know will excel.

High morale is a key to success. It is closely connected to trust, purpose, team loyalty, pride, and faith in the leadership – all qualities that improve as the culture develops.

Customer Service
As the culture develops, managers learn to better manage the quality of stakeholders’ experience, inside the organization and with outsiders such as students, clients, suppliers, and other corporate entities. Most of them are highly attuned to their suppliers’ cultures. They can easily tell when things are working well and when they are not. We all know from personal experience as a customer that when we like doing business with a company we return more often, buy more, and recommend it to others.

People naturally want to be involved and go home knowing they were appreciated and seen as an important contributing member of the team. When leaders show that they want everyone involved, people step forward energetically in creative and productive ways.

Employee Motivation
Motivation blossoms in a well-developed culture that recognizes the employee’s personal work needs and desires and allows people to fulfill these needs through the business tasks. When people are recognized and appreciated for who they are and what they can contribute, the two-way benefits are large and unending.

Responsiveness to Change
A well-developed culture brings a strikingly increased openness to change and a willingness by employees to make changes work. As trust and responsibility increases, employees don’t just initiate significant improvements in ongoing operations; they actively reach out to their environment, bringing improvement ideas and initiatives that make the organization more effective.

By definition, a developed culture increases cooperation, collaboration, and motivation. Improving co-operation between programs and between levels profoundly improves communication, decision-making, and problem-solving.

A well-developed culture involves the people who are affected by a decision in on the decision. This is fundamental to developing teamwork, cooperation, involvement, and trust, between people, programs, and levels.

The culture change process improves relationships between people, levels, and programs. Improved relationships lead to improved communications, decisions and overall performance.

As the culture develops and people take full responsibility for what happens in their work areas, problems are solved where they happen and by those affected. This frees management from the old policing and monitoring style of leadership.

The keys to safety are trusting and open relationships. In a safe work culture, people speak up about unsafe situations, they don’t stand silent when someone violates safe practices. Further, they constantly look for ways to improve safety, and they take personal responsibility for creating and maintaining a safe workplace. Because major accidents can be staggeringly expensive, a safe workplace can be a big contributor to net incomes.

I bet this all sounds and look familiar! These are the tenants of the culture at Gabriel Dumont Institute, everyone should be proud to work in an organization that operates with these principles, I know I am!!

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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