Positive workplace culture
Ahurea mahi pai

"He ora te whakapiri, he mate te whakatakariri" - There is strength in unity, defeat in anger/division

Workplace culture

A workplace culture is the shared values, beliefs, and attitudes people within a workplace foster and share with each other.

NZDF has an important responsibility to ensure our people are treated fairly, feel comfortable and safe to have their own individual identity within the workplace, and feel fully equipped to carry out their role, so our people can thrive within the organisation.

What does it mean to have a positive workplace culture?

The overall workplace culture or atmosphere we work within has flow-on effects to the way we interact with others, how we behave, and how productive and engaged we are with our work.

The World Health Organisation defines a positive workplace culture as ‘one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace.’

Here are some features of what makes up a positive workplace environment:

  • We have a clear understanding of our job scope and responsibilities.
  • We treat people with dignity and we show respect for employees, employers and fellow co-workers.
  • As a values-led organisation we have clear expectations that our personnel will not engage in behaviours such as harassment, bullying, discrimination or bias against gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture or religious background.
  • There is two-way communication between our manager(s) and their employees.
  • Personnel are comfortable and supported by their managers to express concerns without fear of reprimand.
  • We provide support to enable a work-life balance.
  • Wellbeing of employees is put at the forefront of workplace decisions.
  • The workplace values diversity and inclusion.
  • Leaders ‘walk the talk’ and reflect the values our organiation promotes.

Why work culture is important

The importance of building trust in the workplace.

Why is it important?

One of the strongest predictors of happiness is our social connections with others. Research has shown happy employees are up to 20% more productive than those who are unhappy in the workplace, and it all starts with fostering positive working relationships and environments.

A positive workplace culture has the power to improve how well we work together as a team, it raises morale and enables a more productive and efficient working environment. It also leads to significantly higher job satisfaction for employees, an increase in worker retention, and higher levels of resilience where our people are better equipped to bounce back from adversity.

Having a working environment which creates and nourishes positive connections results in motivated employees with a desire to improve the organisation.

In comparison, when an organisation has a toxic workplace culture this can have significant negative impacts on employees' wellbeing and on the organisation itself.

Wellbeing in the workplace

The impact of negative workplace culture on employees

  • Increased feelings of anxiousness and worry
  • Poorer sleeping habits
  • Burnout or fatigue
  • Lower productivity and overall work performance
  • Higher levels of psychological distress and lower overall wellbeing

The impact of negative workplace culture on the organisation

  • Higher absence rates
  • Higher number of employees overworking or staying past their regular number of hours
  • Increase in staff turnover
  • Higher rates of work mistakes, accidents and injuries
  • More time spent ‘mucking around’

(Mental Health Foundation)

What can we do to encourage a positive workplace culture?

One of the easiest things we can do to ensure we're creating a positive workplace culture for our people, is to lead by example. When we make an active effort to ensure our words and actions reflect the working environment we would want for ourselves, it creates a strong foundation which empowers others to reflect and do the same. Work with leaders and other managers to identify positive behaviours, and encourage others to model these.

Build trust and respect with the people you work with. It’s important for us to feel like our ideas are being valued and heard by others. We all think differently and we might not always agree, but diversity and sharing of ideas are what creates change and allows us to move forward and develop as an organisation.

Positive workplace cultures are ones which are inclusive. It’s important for us to actively include others on decisions and work together. Encourage skill sharing, team building, giving and receiving constructive feedback, coaching and communication. When we encourage inclusiveness, we also encourage those around us to feel comfortable to speak up if they feel workplace practices are no longer positive.