7 Keys to a Great Workplace Culture

Ron Riggio
3 min readNov 27, 2022

Key points

  • Creating a great workplace starts with good HR practices, ensuring that employees are onboarded and developed.
  • Removing destructive behavior from managerial and employee interactions is critical.
  • Encouraging collaboration and team efforts and goals shifts the focus from individual accomplishments to working together productively.
  • Ensuring good communication practices throughout the organization leads to a more positive climate and greater productivity.

There really is no big secret to creating a great workplace culture. The key is simply ensuring that best management practices are being used and supported. Here are seven keys to making an organization a great place to work.

1. Remove all forms of unnecessary job ambiguity. Simply put, this involves ensuring that good Human Resources practices are in place. Workers become stressed and unproductive when their jobs and organizational practices are ambiguous or confusing. How do you combat this?

Thoroughly onboard and train new employees. This reduces their confusion and makes new workers immediately more productive. Make sure that job descriptions are kept up to date, and make it clear to novice workers who they should turn to if they need information or help with a problem (and make helping others part of job expectations for more seasoned workers — and reward them for their mentoring work).

2. Eliminate destructive management practices. One of the biggest sources of negative workplace culture is when supervisors are punitive, bullying, or passive-aggressive in their treatment of workers. Being a tough, no-nonsense boss who is always on the lookout to lower the boom simply doesn’t work. Don’t believe me? Just look at decades of leadership research that shows that harsh and punitive practices are inefficient and unproductive. The same goes for controlling destructive behaviors among employees. Don’t allow bullying or mistreatment at any level in the organization.

3. Promote physical and psychological safety. Organizations typically pay great attention to protecting their workers from physical harm but give less attention to their mental well-being. Monitor employees for signs of increased stress due to excessive workload, unfair treatment, or interpersonal conflict with other workers, and take steps to improve the conditions that are causing the stress.

4. Encourage collaboration. Shift the focus from individual achievement to a more collaborative sense of members working together to achieve shared goals. The key to successful management-by-objectives (MBO) is to set individual, group, and organizational goals — making them all known to employees and paying attention to achieving all of them. You may want to consider team-based rewards as an alternative to all individual-based incentives. This can create a culture of collaboration and help.

5. Increase employees’ sense of control/autonomy. Substantial research clearly shows that if workers take ownership of their jobs — having a sense of control over how they accomplish their goals — they will be more dedicated and creative. Bottom line: Don’t micromanage, and allow workers to innovate.

6. Support ongoing employee development. Encourage workers to develop skills through training programs, mentoring/ coaching, challenging work assignments, and paying attention to their long-term career development. Make sure that resources are available to help employees learn and grow on the job.

7. Improve communication throughout the organization. A great deal of stress at work occurs when there are misunderstandings between or among employees and when workers feel cut off from or uninformed about what’s going on. Creating open, honest, and informative lines of communication is critical to a well-functioning organization and contribute to a happier workplace culture.

Originally published at https://www.psychologytoday.com.

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Ron Riggio

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College; Author; Consultant