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Building a positive culture in the workplace

Imagine a workplace where…

  • you’re actually glad to come into work.
  • collaborations with colleagues come easily
  • your team brainstorms and develops phenomenal ideas
  • all hands are on deck; everyone’s committed, focused, and enthusiastic about the work ahead
  • as a result, the end-products you produce are game-changing for your company
  • at the end of the day, you feel more accomplished than you’ve ever felt working anywhere else

The studies speak for themselves: teams just like the ones described above not only make for a more pleasurable work experience, but they also succeed by leaps and bounds as compared to teams that struggle with implementing positive culture.

Positivity in the workplace makes a real difference.

It not only determines a person’s well-being but their success as well. In fact, it does more than that. Positivity can also:

  • enhance team members’ ability to think creatively
  • help them cope with challenges
  • nurture their progress in their career
  • and aid them in getting along with others in the workplace

And as social psychologist Barbara Frederickson posits in her Broaden and Build Theory, the more positivity we experience, the likelier we are to exhibit behaviors such as: discovery, awareness, and curiosity.

So how do we build a positive culture?

As you may have guessed, a team will exhibit positive behaviors when their leader does.

As a leader, therefore, you must focus on creating positivity in your own life through nurturing your own emotional intelligence and happiness.

Martin Seligman, positive psychologist and author of the 2011 book Flourish, developed the PERMA model, which details the five elements that must be in place for us to experience lasting well-being.


P: Positive Emotion

E: Engagement

R: (Positive) Relationships

M: Meaning

A: Accomplishment/Achievement.


For the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing how to establish and maintain a positive culture within your company and today we begin by discussing the first element in Seligman’s PERMA model: Positive Emotion.

If someone were to ask you, “How would you describe positive emotion?” –what would you say?

Most of us would probably answer with words like: hope, love, peace, gratitude. And we would be right, of course.

Do we experience these emotions 24/7?

Not necessarily.

But as a leader, you certainly need to try to experience them as much as possible.

Remember: you set the tone for your team and for their working environment.

The good news is that you can train your brain to be more positive. Here are 5 simple ways how:

  • Assess how you operate in your career. Are you using talents and strengths that fulfill you in your current role? If not, how can you bring more of those skills to the forefront of the work you do? Doing work that you’re good at and that you enjoy will help you to feel more inspired.
  • Identify the things that give you pleasure. Are you an outdoorsy person? Do you enjoy greenery? Animals? You might want to consider having plants in the workplace or even an aquarium. You’ll be surprised by how much more positive you feel simply by making adjustments to your environment.
  • Make some time to do something in your daily life that relaxes you or that you enjoy. This fosters positive emotions and starting your day in this manner will bring your energy and peace of mind into the workplace.
  • Consume positive media. We’re surrounded by a 24-hour news cycle that feeds us stories replete with negativity. Scientific studies have proven that watching news coverage of terrorist attacks, war, or murder can cause the same physical reaction in your body as if you were actually there viewing the carnage in person. Change the channel and start feeding yourself more empowering content.
  • Lastly, challenge the negative thoughts that arise. Our brains have a tendency to hone in and focus on the negative. Start to put a positive spin on the thoughts that visit your mind. I.E. “We failed.” Vs. “The project wasn’t successful this time around but we received valuable feedback that will make the next one more viable.”

Start practicing these strategies to build a reservoir of positive emotions and you’ll be one step closer to building a positive culture in your company.

Next time, we’ll discuss Engagement and how you can cultivate a positive workplace where team members are more engaged with tasks, projects, and situations. Stay tuned!

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6 replies on “Building a positive culture in the workplace”

Great article on positivity in the workplace, Ros! Years back, I learned (the hard way) how important keeping a positive attitude is for all areas of your life.

Looking forward to the next post on engagement.


Thanks for addressing an important area for leaders. Another significant strategy is to mix with positive people. The positivism is infectious and inspiring. Conversely, negative people just bring you down.

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