Tips for Building a Positive Workplace Climate

Building a Positive Workplace Climate

Most of us spend a great deal of our waking hours at work.  As a result, the quality and health of our workplace has a significant impact on the quality and health of our lives.  Consistent with the university’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive campus environment, it is critical that supervisors and employees focus some of their energy on creating a positive workplace climate.    The following are ideas that are likely to increase positivity at work.  The ideas geared towards supervisors, but any employee can support these efforts:

Promote positive communication— Authentically model the type of communication that you believe contributes to a healthy climate.  Encourage conversations about what positive communication looks like on your team.  Different cultural reference points and varied life experiences means that not everyone defines positive communication in the same way. 

Let your employees know they are valued and appreciated— Find small and meaningful ways to say thank you and recognize outstanding work.  A public “thank you,” a thank you card, a $5 coffee card, a lunch out, a nice piece of chocolate are examples of small recognitions that communicate a big message.

Be aware of your impact on others— We do affect one another!  Positive attitude and actions are contagious.  The same goes for negative attitude and negative actions. Notice how your attitude and actions are showing up at work and make a conscious choice to contribute to positivity.  This does not mean avoiding difficult topics or conversations. 

Create a culture of support—Offer to help a colleague meet an important deadline, notice when someone is having a bad day and ask if they need anything, and contribute ideas that will help a colleague.

Ask your team for a “No Gossip” agreement— Gossiping about others (negative talk with no particular purpose) is almost always harmful.  Develop an agreed upon strategy with your team to stop gossip as soon as it starts.

Develop skills related to positive and critical feedback— Yes, these are skills!  It’s fun to give positive feedback.  Identify the specifics of what was well done and the positive impact.  Critical feedback can be difficult, but it is a vital component of creating a positive workplace climate.  Clear, compassionate, honest critical feedback that catches issues at a low level can directly contribute to trust, accountability and improved performance.

Don’t forget to celebrate! —Take time to recognize and celebrate a project milestone, an important job well done, an accomplishment that represents a professional stretch for an employee.

Conduct regular team meetings—Regular team contact builds relationships, provides an important venue to share important information, and problem-solve together.  Team meetings are an excellent place to build in positive interactions.  Start or end with appreciations or positive/humorous experiences of the week.

Encourage creativity and collaboration


Team Building Activities:

Activity-based, team building can contribute to a sense of comradery, fun and bonding outside of the usual work environment.  The following are ideas will get you thinking about the types of activities that will best fit your team:

Set up a university wide scavenger hunt for your department

Organize a recreational sports team (Softball, Volleyball, Kickball, etc.)

Participate in an escape room challenge

Organize a team hike

Volunteer for a charity event together

Organize themed team potlucks

Meet up at the movie theater

Organize lunchtime group activities, (Board games, Walks, Trivia, etc.)

Contact ELR for more team building ideas!


If you would like assistance with problematic climate issues in your department, please send an email to indicating that you would like to discuss climate issues. The Ombuds Office can also assist with facilitated conversations, group work and small climate surveys. To contact the Ombuds Office please send an email to


**Please note that this page is to promote building a positive workplace climate, and should not be used to address concerns of discriminatory harassment and/or discrimination in the workplace. If you have concerns regarding these topics please contact The Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance.