“Keep your head up.” “Look on the bright side.” “This, too, shall pass.”
These positive platitudes bring another commonly used phrase to mind: “Easier said than done.” As individuals, families, and businesses continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, finding any silver lining feels like a daunting endeavor.
But that doesn’t mean searching for the good in every situation is pointless. Never-ending positivity can feel like a Herculean task, but it certainly provides a lift during times of uncertainty.
Within an organization, positivity is an X-factor that brings significant upsides. It’s that jolt that inspires employees to keep crossing items off their daily to-dos. It’s the confidence that managers feel when trying to rally their department during an important presentation. And it’s the push leaders need to present company news — be it good, bad, or between.
Positivity in an organization is more than saying the right things. It’s about creating the kind of culture that makes it a cornerstone value.
Positivity Creates Opportunities
At its core, positivity is a unifier. Positivity spreads when even one person exhibits it about the most menial task or event, and it has an innate ability to catch someone else. My father founded my company and ran it until his death; when I assumed his role, it was a daunting ordeal because 80% of employees had been there for 20 years.
My way of connecting with those people was talking about our shared interest: my father. When I met with each team member, I reassured them that my father’s ultimate vision for the company would live on. By accentuating positive memories, I was able to put longtime employees at ease and move forward.
Positivity is something to build upon. Strangers charged with collaborating usually have an easier time coming to a mutual understanding when that relationship starts on a positive note — not a negative or distrusting one.
In an organization, positivity is the starting point for most ideas of expansion and growth. It inspires a dream-big attitude, but that feeling only takes you so far. Positivity needs to be in a company’s DNA and at the center of every decision.
Make It Last
The term “a smile is contagious” is a bit cheesy, but it’s steeped in truth. Whether it’s by word or by action, good experiences travel fast. If you want to build a company with positivity as one of its pillars, take the following steps:
1. Celebrate wins — both past and present. Nav CEO and Lendio founder Levi King refers to recognition as “the icing on the cake of achievement, and it tastes delicious.” Acknowledge the achievements, milestones, and people that help your company grow.
According to a Gallup survey, public acknowledgment is the preferred kind of recognition for many respondents. At my company, we spend one day each year commemorating my father’s memory and his contributions. I also go out of my way to acknowledge my employees’ efforts regularly to elevate and maintain morale.
2. Share hopeful anecdotes. One of my favorite traditions we’ve established is our lecture series that allows first-generation employees to share stories with newer workers about the company’s beginnings. It shows how far we’ve come and reminds everyone of the “why” behind what we do.
Pass down information, either through mentorship or simple dialogue, to be a conduit for positivity. As those anecdotes travel throughout your organization, employees become more engaged with what they do and develop a purpose they might not otherwise have.
3. Implement positive company initiatives. Research shows that employee engagement improves when companies highlight corporate social responsibility, or CSR. Positive acts outside the workplace stay with your employees when they’re back in the office, so try to make them a staple of your company culture.
We’re a pharmaceutical company by trade, but CSR is a big part of our identity. We champion several nonprofit causes, using our services to help improve the quality of life in our communities.
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is a high-profile environmental advocate, and its mission statement makes that clear: “Foreign policy, immigration, jobs, health care, campaign finance are all important. But none of it matters on a dead planet.” Be steadfast in your corporate values, and your employees will be steadfast in their positivity.
Positivity might be in short supply for some as we go through this pandemic. But it’s an attitude that can lift spirits and carry individuals and the companies they work for through rough patches and into happier times.
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