Positive work cultures create more productive organizations


When will we ever learn? Positive work cultures nurture happier, more productive organizations, and negatives ones do not. Drs. Emma Seppälä (Stanford) and Kim Cameron (U. Michigan) provide a useful reminder of those basic truths in a piece for the Harvard Business Review, summarizing various studies on workplace cultures:

Too many companies bet on having a cut-throat, high-pressure, take-no-prisoners culture to drive their financial success.

But a large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

High stress organizations often overlook the hidden costs that result from such an environment. These include higher health care costs, greater levels of employee disengagement, and reduced worker loyalty to the organization.

In their piece, Seppälä and Cameron identify “six essential characteristics” of a positive workplace culture, built around qualities such as caring, trust, respect, and support.

Sometimes a short little article like this one speaks volumes. Being a good leader or manager is hard work, but fortunately the basic tenets of quality organizations are readily identifiable and provide a sound starting place.

5 responses

  1. Nice article – again. I read the HBR one too. Too many authoritarian hierarchal regimes are self-preserving for the regime and not so much the organization. Many negative-toxic executives are bullies who are interested in their position in the company much more than the position of the company.

  2. Second the above. But I want to add: I’ve noticed that bullies get support from the organizations that they work for, that said organizations facilitate the bullying, allow it to continue and do as much as they can to cover it up. Sort of a crisis management mentality.

    • Nope. Wish it was, but it isn’t. I’ve worked in news organizations and taught in colleges and network like crazy with folks in those professions and others in other professions, and intolerance is par for the course. Some are better than others in terms of intolerance but intolerance is the rule. I think it’s a part of an American ethos.

  3. Pingback: Attention Colleague Larry Shore Who Calls Himself a Professor « The WORD Blog

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