Organizational Wellness

Create a Positive Work Culture

May 2, 2017
Last Updated Feb 26, 2024

Ten years ago, if you paid higher than your competitors, you most likely got the best talent, right? Today, that’s not always the case. A potential employee now weighs a variety of factors when deciding which position to accept. This shift presents an opportunity for your company to stand out.

One key factor that job-seekers are considering more heavily is work culture. Building a positive work culture in your organization can attract talent from far and wide. Let’s talk about what we mean by workplace culture, why a positive culture matters, and how to create that environment in your organization.

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What Is Work Culture? 

A company's culture is a combination of the beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors within a work environment. It’s different from company values, which are consistent over time; work culture is consistently changing.

Despite the constant change, what makes a work culture positive stays the same. In environments with a positive work culture, the beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors at play work to uplift the people at the company and support everyone’s wellbeing. The ideal goal in any workplace should be to have a thriving culture that is true to your company and good for your people.

Why Is a Positive Work Culture Important? 

Positive work culture is vital to businesses for a variety of reasons. One of them is that people want to work for companies with a positive culture. In fact, potential candidates will heavily consider culture before accepting a job offer. Plus, 56% of candidates consider culture to be more important than salary.  

But wait, there's more. A positive workplace culture emphasizes the employees’ wellbeing, and 93% of employees consider a company supporting their wellbeing to be more important than their salary. Eighty-five percent of respondents in our 2022 study said they would stay in their current role if their company focused on their wellbeing. When companies demonstrate respect for employees by supporting their holistic wellbeing, they have a better reason to stay, and are in better states to work as productive and happy members of your team.

Benefits of a Positive Work Culture

A positive work culture matters, but how does it affect your organization? Here are some key benefits that are worth understanding:

  • Attract better employees. In Jobvote’s, 2022 “job-seeker” report, 23% of job seekers selected company culture to be the number one factor they consider when taking a job. When you create a great culture, you could be drawing all of those employees who value company culture right to you. 
  • Better employee health. Believe it or not, having a great culture can improve your employees’ health. The other side is true too: high-pressure companies with negative cultures experience 50% higher healthcare expenditure rates.  
  • Reduced turnover. Employees are more likely to want to work for your company when you have a positive culture. That shows when it comes to retention. Dozens of studies over time have shown that positive workplace culture actually reduces turnover. Creating a positive culture can help you create somewhere your employees want to stay and want to work. 
  • Higher retention rates. The flip side of reduced turnover is higher retention rates. If you have fewer employees leaving your company, you’re going to have higher levels of retention, where people come to stay for a long time at your company. 
  • Increased loyalty. In company cultures where leaders go out of their way to support their teams, employees respond with more loyalty. So cultivating a workplace culture where everyone is supported will only help increase positive feelings all around. 
  • Increased productivity. A strong workplace culture can boost productivity. Think about it this way: if your company creates an environment where everyone’s wellbeing is supported, that’s a place where employees can focus on the work without being held back.

Elements of Work Culture

With all those benefits in mind, let’s look at what makes up a positive work culture. MIT Sloan Management Review analyzed 1.4 million employee reviews in order to analyze the top elements of culture that matter to employees. The results demonstrate a thing or two about what current employees truly want:

  • Feeling respected. When employees feel valued personally and for their contributions, they feel respected and are more likely to thrive.
  • Having supportive leadership. Leaders in an organization can hold a huge amount of power in setting the tone and establishing expectations for work culture. Supportive leadership goes a long way when it comes to creating a great work environment. 
  • Whether leaders’ actions align with core values. When leaders align with the core values of the company, there is more consistency and strength in workplace culture.
  • Managers who foster a toxic work environment aren’t allowed. It makes sense: if you support managers who create a bad environment, you’re going to struggle to create a great culture. 
  • They don’t witness unethical behavior. Along with actions aligning with core values, a great culture doesn’t foster unethical behavior. Employees don’t want to see it, and if they do, they’re not going to feel like it’s a great place to work. 
  • Benefits. Wellbeing benefits are one of the top things employees are looking for at a job. The right offerings can support employees in the way they need to thrive.
  • Perks and amenities. Not all compensation needs to come through salary. Having perks at your company can help create the culture you want. Need some ideas? Check out our favorite perk ideas to attract top talent
  • Opportunities for learning and professional development. Employees will actually leave companies if they don’t have the opportunity to develop. So you win in two ways when you provide opportunities to grow professionally: better-trained employees and lower turnover. 
  • Job security. If workers are constantly worried about keeping their jobs, it’s hard to imagine that they’re having an easy time focusing on the tasks at hand.
  • Frequency and quality of reorganizations. Reorganizations happen. A positive culture facilitates reorganizations that are well-planned and guides employees through them. 

Do’s of Building a Positive Work Culture

Building a positive work culture usually doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some touchpoints to build a culture that truly sticks. Here are some of the great things to do to support culture building that lasts:

  • Identify core values. Remember how employees want actions to line up with company values? To make that happen, you need to identify your company’s core values and help employees know what they are. 
  • Establish trust. Leaders play a major role in creating culture, and when their actions line up with the core beliefs they preach, employees know that these values are here to stay. Establish trust in an organization through consistency.
  • Maintain clear and consistent communication and expectations. It has a powerful effect to get everyone on the same page, which is why clear communication is crucial. Companies might consider having an open-door policy where every employee can come and discuss important ideas with management to keep communication flowing.
  • Ensure employees feel valued and respected. Respect is a major element employees want in the workplace, so it’s a great place to start with building a great culture. 
  • Create growth opportunities. Development is something employees seek out. Try building training opportunities for employees at all levels, bringing in guest educators, providing a stipend to let your team get training elsewhere, or including a tuition reimbursement program to give your employees room to grow. 
  • Have reward systems in place. Recognizing your team for their efforts and rewarding them for their success is one great way to create a positive culture. Rewards can be anything, but we’ll give you a few ideas: explore some recognition program ideas to help you get started building this element of your culture. 
  • Promote diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion can help your company grow and thrive in so many ways. For example, companies with inclusive cultures have higher retention and more recruitment success. 
  • Listen to feedback. Employees can provide valuable feedback on the current culture so that you can get a better understanding of what needs to change. Give your employees the chance to provide feedback and make changes based on what you hear. How can you get feedback? Work environment surveys can help. 

Don’ts of Building a Positive Work Culture

Perhaps not all moves your company makes will be good for your company culture.  Here are a few things to avoid when building a positive culture:

  • Constantly rescheduling appointments. A positive culture relies on trust, so if you’re constantly rescheduling appointments with your team, that may make it hard for them to trust you and rely on you. 
  • Limiting growth opportunities. This is the flip side of providing growth. Try not to limit growth opportunities anywhere. Maybe that requires being more flexible with scheduling or funds, but try to help employees feel like they can develop at your company. 
  • Allowing poor management. We mentioned earlier that leaders help create the culture. Avoid letting poor management run the show. Ensure you have great leaders in place to really help support your team. 
  • Ignoring feedback. If you ask for feedback, don’t ignore it. Utilize it to make sure your culture is always improving. 

Consistent Culture Curation...

Building a positive work culture may take some time and effort, but the benefits are clear. A positive work culture can lead to improved employee health, reduced turnover, increased loyalty, and increased productivity. Ultimately, a positive work culture can make a significant difference in an organization's success and long-term sustainability, helping your company step into the future of workplace success.

Ready to get started with improving your company culture? Talk to a wellbeing specialist today.

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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