The Value of Positive Work Environments and How to Deal With Negative Ones

You spend a good amount of time in your life at work. Ideally, you’ll be spending those working hours in an environment that’s supportive, inspiring, and makes you feel excited about coming into the office. Unfortunately, not all work environments are positive. Dealing with negative work environments can be draining and leave you dreading the workplace. Learn more about how to create a positive environment and deal with a negative one below.

Why a positive work environment matters

The first step in creating a positive work environment is to figure out what exactly that means. Experts explain that a positive work environment is one that helps employees feel safe and seen, while also promoting employee growth and supporting them in meeting their goals. This benefits not only employees but also companies. According to the Harvard Business Review, positive work environments tend to foster greater productivity.

There are a few concrete traits associated with positive work environments, including compassion, positive reinforcement, and positive thinking. Open and honest communication is another core trait, as is a good work-life balance and plenty of growth opportunities. While it’s largely on employers to set the tone and create a positive work environment, employees can also do their part to help nurture a happy culture—more on that next.

How to contribute to a positive work environment

A great work environment generally starts with the company. For example, creating opportunities for employees to advance and encouraging a healthy work-life balance can be a good start. That said, it takes more than good company policies to create a positive work environment. Live About explains that it’s on company leaders to build trust, help employees feel seen, and provide positive reinforcement and recognition.

Employees themselves can also do their part, for instance by telling company leaders what they need to feel seen and heard. The steps needed to create a positive work environment in remote or hybrid settings may look a bit different. In these cases, it’s even more important to orchestrate meaningful regular check-ins and encourage collaboration, both within teams and across teams. Supporting a strong workplace culture is also wise.

What to do when facing a negative work environment

Unfortunately, not all work environments are positive. In fact, some can be downright toxic. Recognizing a negative work environment is the first step to addressing it. Signs of toxicity include narcissistic leaders, a lack of enthusiasm, and poor communication. High employee turnover is usually also a bad sign. Also, beware of cliques and rumors, which can breed ill will among workers.

If you do find yourself confronting a toxic work environment, don’t ignore it. If you want to raise the issue with management, you’ll have to provide documentation. Start taking notes regarding instances of toxicity or harassment. Document all of these instances for human resources, compiling them into a single easy-to-read document. If you need to create a PDF file online, you can use this free tool.

Steps to take if you’re ready to change jobs

Sometimes, you can’t change a negative work environment. The company culture may be too deeply ingrained, or you may face leadership that’s resistant to change. In these cases, it’s often best to move on and get a new job. A professional like Apex Staffing can help. This women-owned placement and recruiting firm puts a premium on helping connect people with employers who truly value them. Prepare for a change by updating your resume and cover letter.

Everybody deserves to work in a positive environment that’s free of discrimination, harassment, and general negativity. By taking steps like documenting harassment, you can help make a negative work environment better. However, don’t feel obligated to stick with a job if it’s making you unhappy. There are more opportunities out there.

Get more tips for enjoying a healthy, thriving career via the blog.