Ambience and the mood of the office is something that is often overlooked, despite growing studies from leading psychologists who suggest it is one of the most important factors in any workplace. Research carried out by the New York Times found negative people with a negative outlook were more likely to affect others than positive people. But is this something leaders pay attention to, and, if not, should they? 

According to research from Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan, yes.

In research printed in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Kim Cameron, from Michigan University, discovered positive workplaces excel in comparison to spaces described as ‘negative’ or where staff appear unhappy.

The best leaders, they find, tend to instil a climate where employees feel cared for and are interested in establishing friendships or providing support to colleagues. Other virtues noted in the study are places that strive to avoid a blame-game culture by forgiving mistakes and encouraging people to be honest.

Psychology Today lists the four top ways leaders can boost positivity as clearing out, inviting fresh energy, encouraging breaks and time away and leading from the front.

1. Tidying up

Messy and untidy environments can make offices feel draining. A good tidying up and clearing of clutter can leave behind an environment which encourages staff to feel proud and ready for the day ahead. This can even be made into a team activity which gives everyone the chance to review and take ownership of their own areas. Alternatively, if you work in a hot-desking environment, you can instil 10 minutes at the start of the day and at the end to ensure workspaces are clean.

2. Inspire fresh thinking

Create an environment where workers feel comfortable by suggesting new ways of doing things or giving feedback after a task or project. This is not to make more work for yourself as a leader but to give them the chance to feel as though their voice is heard. If you use their idea, let them know and thank them. This will give a positive boost to the employee and will trickle down, so others will feel confident doing the same in future. And if you don’t, consider giving feedback on why it wasn’t used. At the very least, be sure to thank them for their time.

3. Know when to switch off

Let your workforce know you expect them to work hard but you equally respect their time when they need to switch off. Small rewards go a long way. Good leaders know employees will be incentivised to do well if they feel their boss is looking out for them. For example, if a hard worker needs to leave early to collect their children, let them. They’ll be twice as less likely to moan if they need to stay late in a few weeks or take on additional work.


4. Be the change

Positivity comes from the front. Be the positive leader you want your colleagues to see you as. Keep interactions positive and remember the positive-negative-positive sandwich rule when delivering feedback to workers.

For advice and guidance for leaders and human resources managers, contact Anthony Gregg for advice.

Group of happy business people clapping their hands by tec_estromberg licensed under Creative commons 4