Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive (2022)

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(Video) Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.

Too many companies bet on having a cut-throat, high-pressure, take-no-prisoners culture to drive their financial success.

But a large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Although there’s an assumption that stress and pressure push employees to perform more, better, and faster, whatcutthroat organizations fail to recognize is the hidden costs incurred.

First,health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50%greaterthan at other organizations. The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job. Sixty percentto 80% of workplace accidents are attributed to stress, and it’s estimatedthat more than 80% of doctor visits are dueto stress. Workplace stress has been linked to health problems ranging from metabolic syndrome to cardiovascular disease and mortality.

The stress of belonging to hierarchies itself is linked to disease and death. One study showed that, the lower someone’s rank in a hierarchy, the higher their chances of cardiovascular disease and death from heart attacks. In alarge-scale study of over 3,000 employees conducted byAnna Nyberg at the Karolinska Institute, results showed a strong link between leadership behavior and heart disease in employees. Stress-producing bosses are literally bad for the heart.

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(Video) 3 ways to create a work culture that brings out the best in employees | Chris White | TEDxAtlanta

Second is the cost of disengagement. While a cut-throat environment and a culture of fear can ensure engagement (and sometimes even excitement) for some time, research suggests that the inevitable stress it creates will likely lead to disengagement over the long term. Engagement in work — which is associated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected — is generally negatively associated with a high-stress, cut-throat culture.

And disengagement is costly. In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.

Lack of loyalty is a third cost. Researchshows thatworkplace stressleads to an increase of almost 50% in voluntary turnover. People go on thejob market, decline promotions, or resign. And the turnover costs associated with recruiting, training, lowered productivity, lost expertise, and so forth, are significant. TheCenter for American Progress estimates that replacing a single employee costs approximately 20% of that employee’s salary.

(Video) How to Create a Positive Company Culture Where People WANT to Work

For these reasons, many companies have established a wide varietyofperks from working from home to office gyms. However, these companies stillfail to take into account the research. AGallup poll showed that, even whenworkplacesoffered benefits such as flextime and work-from-home opportunities,engagement predicted wellbeing above and beyond anything else. Employees prefer workplace wellbeing to material benefits.

Wellbeing comes from one place, and one place only — a positiveculture.

Creating a positive and healthy culture for your team rests on a few major principles. Our own research (see here and here) on the qualities of a positive workplace culture boils down to six essential characteristics:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when othersare struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

As a boss, how can you foster these principles?The research points to four steps to try:

1. Foster social connections. A large number of empirical studies confirm that positive social connections at work produce highly desirable results. For example, people get sick less often, recover twice as fast from surgery, experience less depression, learn faster and remember longer, tolerate pain and discomfort better, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job. Conversely, research by Sarah Pressman at the University of California, Irvine, found that the probability of dying early is 20% higher for obese people, 30% higher for excessive drinkers, 50% higher for smokers, but a whopping 70% higher for people with poor social relationships. Toxic, stress-filled workplaces affect social relationships and, consequently, life expectancy.

2. Show empathy. As a boss, you have a huge impact on how your employees feel. A telling brain-imaging study found that, when employees recalled a boss that had been unkind or un-empathic, they showed increased activation in areas ofthe brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion while the opposite was true when they recalled an empathic boss. Moreover, Jane Dutton and her colleagues in the CompassionLab at the University of Michigansuggest that leaders who demonstrate compassion toward employeesfoster individual and collective resilience in challenging times.

(Video) Zoe Fragou on Why is it so difficult to talk about Toxic Cultures

3. Go out of your way to help. Ever had a manager or mentor who took a lot of trouble to help you when he or she did not have to? Chances are you have remained loyal to that person to this day. Jonathan Haidtat New York University’s Stern School of Business showsin his research that when leaders are not just fair but self-sacrificing, their employees are actually moved and inspired to become more loyal and committed themselves. As a consequence, they are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employees, thus creating a self-reinforcing cycle. Daan Van Knippenberg of Rotterdam School of Management shows that employees of self-sacrificing leaders are more cooperative because they trust their leaders more. They are also more productive and see their leaders as more effective and charismatic.

4. Encourage people to talk to you – especially about their problems. Not surprisingly,trusting that the leader has your best interests at heartimproves employee performance.Employees feel safe rather than fearful and, asresearchby Amy Edmondson of Harvard demonstrates in her work on psychological safety, a culture of safety i.e. in which leaders are inclusive, humble, and encourage their staff to speak up or ask for help, leads to better learning and performance outcomes. Rather than creating a culture of fear of negative consequences, feeling safe in the workplace helps encourage the spirit of experimentation so critical for innovation. Kamal Birdi of Sheffield University has shown that empowerment, when coupled with good training and teamwork, leads to superior performance outcomes whereas a range of efficient manufacturing and operations practices do not.

When you know a leader is committed to operating from a set of values based on interpersonal kindness, he or she sets the tone for theentireorganization. In Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam Grant demonstrates that leader kindness and generosity are strong predictors of team and organizational effectiveness. Whereas harsh work climates arelinked to poorer employee health, the opposite is true of positive work climates where employees tend to have lowerheart rates and blood pressure as well as a stronger immune systems. A positive work climate also leads to a positive workplace culture which, again, boostscommitment, engagement, and performance. Happier employees make for not only a more congenial workplace but for improved customer service. As a consequence, a happy and caring culture at work not only improves employee well-being and productivity but alsoimproved client health outcomes and satisfaction.

In sum, a positive workplace is moresuccessfulover time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each otherand amplifiestheirabilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees’ ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health. And, it attracts employees, making them moreloyalto the leader and to the organization as well as bringing out their best strengths.When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.

Editor’s note: Due to a typo, this article initially misstated the number of workdays lost due to stress each year. That number is estimated at 550 million, not 550 billion. The sentence has been corrected.

FAQs

Are positive work cultures more productive? ›

When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.

How does culture increase productivity? ›

“The greater the culture, the more productive people will be, because they are engaged. Human beings excel when they are happy and doing what they enjoy. And when they excel, they produce.”

Why is a positive workplace culture important? ›

A positive workplace culture is more effective over time because it fosters positive feelings and well-being among employees. As a result, people's relationships with one another strengthen, and their talents and inventiveness grow. Thus, creating a good work environment may make or break your company's success.

How does workplace culture affect productivity? ›

Workplace culture influences the way people perform, which, ultimately, can directly impact your bottom line. A happy, supportive workplace energises people to come to work each day and boosts mood and concentration. Organisations with stronger cultures are generally more successful and have high productivity levels.

How does positivity increase productivity? ›

The positive feelings they inspire will help broaden the amount of possibilities our brains can process, making us more thoughtful, creative, and open to new ideas. They also help build our capabilities, making us more productive and successful.

Why is it more productive to be positive? ›

Positive thinking makes it easier to identify and take advantage of opportunities the same way it makes it easier to solve problems. The research study by NCBI also found that people with a positive mindset are generally more successful because they take advantage of opportunities.

Does good working culture boost employee performance? ›

The link between a strong culture and employee performance

A strong culture leads to happier employees, and happier workers have been shown to be 12 percent more productive.

What are the 4 factors that increased productivity? ›

“Positive attitude and involvement of management,” “Proactive employees,” “Good working conditions,” “Tools and equipment to raise productivity,” and “Availability of water, power and other input supplies” have been ranked as top five factors.

Are happy workers always productive workers? ›

Happiness increases productivity because it leads to higher engagement so happy employees are also more present. They pay more attention to the needs of customers and they are more alert of the company's processes and systems.

Are happier employees always more productive employees? ›

An extensive study into happiness and productivity has found that workers are 13% more productive when happy.

What makes a workplace more productive? ›

Reduce the number of tasks that each of your team members handles. Use color coding in your calendar to help you quickly differentiate various tasks and events. Block out time for everyone in the office to work in peace without getting interrupted. Schedule time buffers between meetings.

Videos

1. The 4 Keys to a Positive Corporate Culture
(HR Exchange Network)
2. The Best Company Culture For Your Organization
(Factorial HR)
3. How to Make Work Cultures Better
(InspireYourPeople.com)
4. Building a Positive Workplace Culture
(Emtrain)
5. Queer Theory Lecture - Jules Gill-Peterson (2021)
(Duke GSF)
6. This is what makes employees happy at work | The Way We Work, a TED series
(TED)

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