Building a good workplace culture

It will influence who they apply for jobs with, how long they stay in roles; how hard they work, and, to a degree, how often they are off work with a physical or mental health problem.

Building a good workplace culture

The average person will spend somewhere between 20% and 30% of their entire waking hours at work throughout their life. So it is hardly surprising that it will matter greatly to most people what the quality of the workplace culture they spend this time in is like.

It will influence who they apply for jobs with, how long they stay in roles; how hard they work, and, to a degree, how often they are off work with a physical or mental health problem.

More than one out of five job seekers questioned, in a 2022 survey, cited poor company culture as their reason for leaving their previous job.

What might a healthy workplace look like?

Typically, a healthy workplace culture will embrace values like:

  • Positive attitude
  • Fairness (in how employees and customers are treated)
  • A strong work ethic
  • Mental and physical well-being
  • An appropriate work/life balance
  • Clear goals
  • Employee feedback

Using that as a checklist, the start of a new year is a good time to reflect and assess your culture. Could you have a healthier workplace culture in 2024 to help your business perform better?

Every business is different, of course. While few would argue that the above values are building blocks of a healthy workplace culture, how you might achieve them will vary considerably based on your budget and other situational factors like the number of staff you have and your operations.

Tips from HR for improving your workplace culture


Good HR starts with having the correct policies in your employee handbook, and then communicating them clearly, acting on them when called for and updating them as employment law changes over time.

Doing this will ensure that employees always know where they stand, and that you have the framework to treat everyone the same.

Positive attitude

There are numerous ways in which you can nurture a positive attitude amongst your staff. From simply leading by example, with a smile, can-do outlook, and acts of kindness, to organising team social events from time to time. Some businesses get excellent value from coming together to fundraise for a good cause. If budgeted, you could invest in a team-building away day, which may be beneficial.

Mental and physical well-being

This is a huge area and one which has become even more a focus of attention since the COVID pandemic. We are big advocates for including an Employee Assistance Programme in a benefits package. It is a low-cost perk which gives employees access to things like confidential helplines to assist with challenges like mental health or debt.

There are other health benefits you could include, budget permitting – from a health cash plan or private telephone GP access, all the way up to full private medical insurance. As well as looking good when recruiting, these benefits can help employees return to work and full productivity quickly.

Aside from benefits, keep a close eye on workloads, ensuring they are manageable and that they are distributed fairly – there may not be a faster way to spread discord and resentment if one or two people have to work much harder than the others. Lots of businesses invest in training mental health first aiders within their team who can be a strong first line of defence against mental health struggles.

Encourage employee feedback

The anonymous ideas box may seem a bit old-fashioned now, but there are plenty of other ways to show you are listening. One-to-one appraisals are one good opportunity as long as you make it clear it is two-way and they are comfortable speaking directly to management. Alternatively, technology makes it easy to send out an employee survey now and then using Mailchimp or similar software.

Sue Tumelty
Sue Tumelty