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4 Key Characteristics of a Positive Work Culture

by Tony Boatman, on Apr 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

You want your company to be a great place to work. You want your employees to look forward to being in the office environment or connecting with their team members. In short, you want a positive work culture. 

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But what characterizes a positive working environment? You know the difference in terms of how people feel at work and how they work together, but the underlying components may not be obvious at first glance. These four characteristics build a solid foundation for a positive working environment—and can help you start to build your own.


Good communication is vital to your business. You need to communicate with your business partners about what you need from them, and you need to communicate clearly with your customers about what it is you do. And you know your employees need to talk to each other, to share instructions and information. It only makes sense that communication would play a role in the formation of your work culture. 

But have you thought about the type of communication that makes for a positive work environment? In many cases, it’s not just about being clear or informative—being open and transparent in how you communicate with others in your organization also contributes to the nature of the work culture. 

Firms that allow employees to be open and transparent when they talk to each other tend to have a more congenial work environment, as everyone is clear on where they stand and on how they contribute to the business.


When everyone has a chance to play both expert and student, it helps contribute to a more positive work culture. Why? Peer-to-peer learning helps employees reach out to each other and work together. Employees identify subject-area experts and get in touch with them when they have questions. Similarly, employees continue to develop their own skills through training and education. Collaboration becomes more common, and many employees can be recognized and valued for their expertise in different areas. 

Learning new skills also allows employees to contribute directly to the business’s future. They can learn new skills to keep pace with an adapting and changing marketplace, and they can bring insightful new ideas to the table.


Humans have a deep need to be validated and recognized. Your employees want to feel that they are valued and that their contributions matter to your company. Recognizing hard work and expertise helps you ensure your employees know they are valued members of your team—not just more cogs in the wheel. Celebrating employee achievements and milestones help reinforce the idea that each person is valued.

Using social recognition can help deepen the impact of recognition and celebration efforts. A rewards system allows peers to recognize each other and give each other praise for a job well done. You can use technology—an app that enables social recognition—to instill a positive work culture.


Is everyone in your firm aware of your core values? If not, you might want to think about how “core” those values really are. Use new technologies to communicate your core values every day, and demonstrate them in your own work. Ensure that they line up with corporate actions; a piece of paper saying you’re committed to a “green” business means little if your company produces tons of technological waste or prints every single email.

Core values give employees a sense of the company’s identity and its commitments. They can then use that to review their own values and see how they line up with where they work. The more aware of core values your employees are, the more likely they are to employ them in their day-to-day work. Employees can take pride in their work knowing that what they value is what the company values. That makes for positive attitudes—which makes for a positive work culture.