What is Positive Workplace Culture?

We talk to organisations every day about helping them to build upon or create positive workplace culture. But before we begin to think about action we need to define positive workplace culture and also think about how we can measure our impact in creating one. Read on to find out more…

A positive workplace culture requires people to survive and thrive, this image shows two people of colour collaborating at a computer

So let’s address the key question…

What is a Positive Culture in The Workplace?

At The Happiness Index, we believe that a positive workplace is one where everyone on your team can not only survive but thrive. This means that your team are both happy AND engaged. 

You might think that creating a positive organisation is about creating a happy workplace. But we would argue that here direction - that’s to say engagement - is actually more important. This helps you to create a thriving organisation. And that’s what we believe makes a positive organisation. 

We’re big proponents of creating happy workplaces, this is key because happiness is the energy that drives us. However, in order to create a truly positive workplace you need one where people not only have the energy they need, but also a direction to drive your organisation in. This is where engagement comes in. 

To survive AND thrive your people need both happiness AND engagement

The Neuroscience of Positive Workplace Cultures

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the Neuroscience of positive workplace culture. There are two main areas at play here that we need to look at in a bit more detail. 


An often-overlooked neuroscience area, clarity is key when it comes to giving people direction. This is because it’s through understanding their individual job requirements, and how these feed into the overall impact of the organisation, that people can feel like they’re making a true difference. 

Ensuring information flow from leadership, so that your people feel like they’re involved in true two-way conversations and how their performance is impacting the successes of the business is key to creating positive growth for your organisation. 

Personal Growth

On a more individual level, personal growth is also important in creating a positive workplace. Neuroscience shows us that our brains are wired to seek challenge, progression and development. Although this will look different for every individual in your organisation - in pace and direction - ultimately if you can’t offer your people growth they’ll look for it elsewhere.

We find that across the board personal growth is a weakness for the organisations we work with. This means that if you’re looking to make improvements to the positivity of your team’s culture, this might be a great place to start. 

Flexibility & Positivity

We talk about the importance of flexibility a lot. That’s because our vision is #FreedomtobeHuman. When we talk about our vision we’re often talking about environments where all individuals can survive and thrive, ie. positive ones!

Being flexible will look different in different organisations. You may be able to offer flexibility over schedule, location or remit. This will build positivity in your team because it will mean that the organisational culture can be adaptive to individual needs. No two people within your organisation have the same requirements, and even for one individual their needs might change over the course of their employment. 

Our co-founder, Matt Phelan, often says that only Siths believe in absolutes. Star Wars references aside, it’s often best for everyone to encourage flexibility where you can. We encourage you to build a culture that doesn’t try to impose one-size-fits-all solutions. Not only will this help you build an organisation that encourages diversity, it’ll also encourage more positivity and, ultimately, higher performance. 

The Dangers of Toxic Positivity

I want to throw a quick note of caution into the mix here. 

Although we all want to build positive organisational cultures, individuals cannot be expected to be positive all the time. That’s because everyone within your organisation is a human. So they’re going to feel the full range of human emotions. That means positivity and negativity. 

If you attempt to force positivity at all times within your organisation not only will you be onto a losing battle, but you may suppress helpful feedback and insights that could help you build a truly great place to work. 

We recommend measuring your culture on an ongoing basis. Although you’re likely to see fluctuations in happiness, engagement and positivity, you should be able to create a general upwards trend. 

How we Can Help You Build a Positive Culture in The Workplace

We always suggest that organisations start with our Cultural Assessment survey. This will give you a clear insight into what’s working well within your organisation and where potential weaknesses lie. Plus, it’s a great way to gain a benchmark! We love internal benchmarking, as it really helps you to measure progress. We also offer benchmarking against other organisations in similar industries or of similar sizes to help you understand where you sit in your competition. 

For organisations who are further along in their cultural health journey, our Employee Engagement survey allows you to get real-time feedback. This allows for agile and responsive cultural planning and adjustments! Plus, many of our customers find that they’re able to uncover great suggestions and easy wins through comments left in our platform

Lastly, for those organisations who have uncovered problems within their Clarity or Personal Growth, we have specific Neuroscience Theme surveys which will allow you to dive deeper into these areas! We allow you to really get to grips with what your people need and want to create bespoke plans that will supercharge your strategy and help you build and maintain a positive workplace culture. 

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Linked to Engagement in our neuroscience methodology... learn more

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Employee Engagement: What You Need To Know

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About The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index helps organisations measure the key employee engagement AND happiness drivers to power their people strategy.

Our unique platform offers the products, insights and tools to shine a light on your cultural health and empower management to drive thriving cultures.

Our neuroscience-based pre-built surveys measure the full employee experience - from onboarding to exit to empower and enable organisations to understand their people and create data-led action plans.


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