Office colleagues congratulating happy woman excited by good new

Try These Tips to Create an Inclusive and Happy Workplace

Thursday, February 28, 2019

People thrive on positive reinforcement; nothing feels better than receiving a compliment for a job well done.

What about those little day-to-day tasks that keep things flowing smoothly, though? Those are often forgotten in the shuffle, but the reality is, these deserve acknowledgement just as much as the big accomplishments.

Here are some ways to make positive reinforcement part of your workplace.

Tell Them and Mean It

Your job for the rest of 2019 is to get into the habit of showing appreciation (authentically) to your co-workers. This will require you to actively seek out things that they are doing well. If your assistant does a stellar job, tell them so! Did your boss nail that difficult negotiation? Let them know it was awesome!

Do you work remotely? No problem! Express gratitude via email to the front desk person or the folks in the mail room or the helpful sales clerk who went the extra mile. These verbal reinforcements not only give them a little boost they may have needed, but you will actively be showing your gratitude for a job well done, whatever that may be.

Make It a Habit

When you get in the habit of acknowledging these positive acts, you, yourself, will find that you feel better about your life and how full it is, rather than focusing on the things you don't have. There's something to be said for the power of positive thoughts and actions.


Try to show your gratitude toward your co-workers at least two or three times a week. After a week, you'll find you're doing it more and more without even thinking about it.

That's the power of gratitude: It's self-perpetuating. It's an acquired taste, but one that they will get used to.

Be Spontaneous and Have a Little Fun

Everyone wants to have fun at work—even though everyone defines “fun” a little differently. Fun happens when people feel well-connected with a team where there’s mutual respect, open communication, and acceptance of who people are, and everyone’s collaborating and working toward the same goal. When teams are working well together, it makes it easier to be spontaneous and have some fun—whether it’s a last-minute Football Friday party after a project launch, or a brief pause in the afternoon to tell stories and have a few laughs over topics that have nothing to do with work.


Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of business.

Show Employees How Much You Really Care

  • Boss for the day—Let an employee be “Boss for the Day” and proclaim a jeans day, a potluck, or make a speech at a team meeting.
  • Lunch with the boss—Take your employees out to lunch and let them choose the location. Do your best to keep work-related discussions to a minimum. Take this time to get to know more about what your employees’ interests and hobbies are beyond their work lives.
  • Impromptu time off—Spontaneous late arrival or early departure days are always a motivator. For example, send a quick email that says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it.”
  • Time off coupons—Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off as a spot award. Employees can collect them to add up to leaving an hour early one day or coming in late one day.
  • Work-from-home day—Remember significant events in your employees’ personal lives, such as a child starting kindergarten, and give them a work-from-home day so they can participate without worrying about coming into the office on time.
  • Indoor food truck—On a hot day, have the leadership team go around the office with a cart handing out ice cream (Klondike bars, ice cream sandwiches, and so on). On a cold day, have them push around a “cocoa cart,” serving hot chocolate to the team.
  • Cookies for a cause—For an employee who’s an active volunteer, have specially shaped cookies made and delivered with a thank-you card. The shapes should reflect the cause the employee cares about; for instance, if the employee volunteers with military veterans, the cookies might be in the shapes of stars and flags.
  • Winter fun in the office—Put on a season of “Summer Fun” from Valentine's Day to Labor Day where everyone is in for a drawing of a sleep-in day, long lunch, or early release. Each week winners are announced, and everyone usually “wins” something twice per summer.
  • Midweek treat—Waffle Wednesdays? Tuesday afternoon cookie platter? Friday Fajita Day?

Positive reinforcement can shape behavior. By implementing a few of these recognition and reward techniques, you can create a more desirable work environment that motives employees and improves productivity.

Want to learn more? Join me November 5-6 at OrgDev in New Orleans!

About the Author

Devin C. Hughes is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and an internationally recognized expert in the science of happiness, organizational/culture change and leadership development. He has lectured and worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies, as well as the Secret Service, the IRS, and an assortment of profit and nonprofit organizations. Devin is the author of 20 books and has lectured in more than 15 countries. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, four daughters, and two rescue dogs.

Sign In to Post a Comment
We need this at our company. Many of our team members have been voicing to me how there is no act of appreciation for us and question why we should be doing any of the work anymore. That's a problem that hasn't been solved yet and I would hate to continue losing great team members. I'm just a normal employee with no authority but is there a way for me to even bring employee appreciation up to the managers?
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
A people engagement tool will make sure that the meetings between the candidates and the leadership are scheduled as per their availability. The tool also helps the leadership to give a score to the interaction, based on which the next decision maker can prepare for the session. This will help give a lot more perspective to the leaders:
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.