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Publication #HR012

Creating a Positive Workplace for Your Associates1

Amanda Ruth, Chip Crawford, Allen Wysocki, Karl Kepner, Derek Farnsworth, and Jennifer L. Clark2

Introduction

A positive work environment can mean the difference between success and failure for an organization. There are many ways in which managers and supervisors can create positive workplaces for their associates. To begin, they must define what a positive workplace is by establishing good relationships, improving teamwork, and fostering innovations.

Definition of a Positive Workplace

There are many definitions of what constitutes a positive workplace. The authors agree with White's definition that it is a place where associates (employees) are happy and motivated (HRZone 2000; White 2002). There are many ways to create a positive workplace (e.g., establishing good relationships between managers and associates).

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Creating a Positive Workplace

The manager-associate relationship is the variable that often has the greatest impact on associate performance (White 2002). It is important for managers to listen and communicate sincerely with their associates and provide positive reinforcement. Three ways to develop a sincere manager-associate relationship are balance, timing, and clarity (White 2002). Balance means having set standards for reinforcing actions. Timing means recognizing actions or achievements when they occur. Clarity means keeping praise simple and specific.

In addition, managers must also promote interpersonal relationships between associates. Teamwork increases productivity, quality, and customer service (Valentine 2001). It encourages associates to get involved and share information, which improves the overall quality of the organization (Valentine 2001). By working together, associates disseminate new information to each other, which can produce fresh insights and innovations (Valentine 2001).

Positive workplace relationships also can have external effects. Customer satisfaction can be increased by associates' ambiance—happy associates lead to happy customers (Valentine 2001). It is common for management to overlook the associates and focus only on customers. It is easy for customers to spot dissatisfied associates. Therefore, it is important to create and maintain associates' morale to improve customer satisfaction and increase productivity (White 2002).

Mission Statements

The best way to create a positive interactive workplace is by creating a value-centered group mission statement that is endorsed by management. Workshops should be conducted on a regular basis to empower the mission statement, and rewards and punishments should be used to enforce the mission statement.

Creating a Mission Statement

The goal of a mission statement should be to establish a set of values that all of the associates will respect and follow (Valentine 2001). Management should identify the values and goals that the associates have for the company and reinforce those values and goals. It is important that all of the associates participate in the process and agree to the mission statement.

Endorsing a Mission Statement

It is important for management to endorse the mission statement and be held accountable for its success (Valentine 2001). For example, everyone employed in the company should be encouraged or required to attend regular meetings and workshops to show their support of the mission statement.

Reinforcing a Mission Statement

Company documents and policies are not effective unless practices are enforced. Therefore, after creating the mission statement, meetings and workshops should be held on a regular basis to discuss the company's progress in applying the shared values. For example, interactive workshops could quickly gather associate feedback to promote participation and a sense of teamwork within the company.

Only after the mission statement has been established and thoroughly communicated should rewards and punishments be considered. Evaluating participation can easily be incorporated into job plans and performance appraisals. Associates should be able to list ways they are reaching the goals of the mission statement. According to Valentine (2001), associates become team players when the team's values are clearly established and appealing to them. Those who support the mission statement should be recognized and rewarded, while those who refuse to participate should be warned and then penalized if their participation does not increase. If the associate's refusal to participate affects company morale, termination may be necessary.

Conclusions

Creating a positive workplace is critical to a company's success. It is important for managers to define a purpose, set clear goals, and use appropriate positive reinforcement to motivate associates (White 2002). One way to do this is by creating and enforcing a mission statement that is beneficial to both associates and customers (HRZone 2000). By defining what is acceptable behavior and vigorously facilitating a harmonious environment, management can create positive workplaces that benefit everyone (Valentine 2001).

References

HRZone. 2000. "Associate recognition and motivation." Academic Emporia.com. http://academic.emporia.edu/smithwil/00spmg444/eja/leach.html

Valentine, S. 2001. "Four suggestions for a positive interactive workplace." http://www.refersher.com//Archives/!foursuggestions.html

White, T. 2002. "The human element. One more time: Tell me about motivation." TheFabricator.com. http://www.thefabricator.com/article/trainingretention/one-more-time-tell-me-about-motivation

Footnotes

1.

This document is HR012, one of a series of the Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 2002. Revised October 2015. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Amanda Ruth, former graduate student; Chip Crawford, former graduate student; Allen Wysocki, associate dean and professor; Karl Kepner, emeritus professor; Derek Farnsworth, assistant professor; and Jennifer L. Clark, senior lecturer, Food and Resource Economics Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.