How to Keep the Workplace Friendly

Even high-stress offices can be friendly by keeping the focus on the positive.

Even high-stress offices can be friendly by keeping the focus on the positive.

When you work in a place that's open and friendly, it's likely to keep you motivated. If your workplace is the opposite, it makes days drag on endlessly, and might make you a regular follower of the want ads. Whether you're a company manager or an employee among the ranks, you can foster a friendly environment in your workplace. The first step is to maintain a positive attitude; from there, you can take action to keep things friendly.

Start a social committee that focuses on creating fun events for employees to socialize in a more relaxed environment after work. Plan events such as a quarterly barbecue, monthly happy hour or summer athletic event and invite all the employees. By creating a committee to plan and promote the event, you're likely to get more people interested in participating. When people get friendly after work, they're likely to be friendlier during work hours too. Create a calendar of social events, and then post them in a visible location.

Provide a welcome packet that gives new employees a card, gift cards or company information, and the calendar of your social events. When a new employee starts, take time to get to know her by inviting her to lunch or for a coffee break. Learn a bit about her life, family and interests so you'll be able to ask her about them later.

Switch from negative to positive reinforcement. If your workplace currently has a process of punishment when employees step out of line or mess up, consider changing that to reward them when they do something right. Instead of punishing workers when they don't make sales quotas, reward them when they do. If an employee is constantly late for work, start a reward system that has her earning a coffee gift card or other perk after she arrives on time a certain number of days.

Get workers invested in the company. Morale improves when they feel "respected, valued and appreciated," says work behavior expert David Lee. This means getting workers involved in growing the company, knowing what the company's goals are, and knowing their role in moving the company forward. Regular planning sessions or vision meetings with higher-ups help workers to feel more connected with the company, which will lead to better morale and a friendlier workplace. Consider offering shares of the company to employees, providing incentives for referrals, or other ways to get workers to feel invested and part of the company's growth.

Place a suggestion box in a visible location, and then read the suggestions and responses during a company meeting. Keep the tone light and make it clear that each suggestion is being acknowledged and considered.

Tip

  • While it may seem counterintuitive, letting unproductive workers go can also help improve workplace productivity and morale, says corporate leadership author Peter Barron Stark.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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