When I turned 40, I went to work, like most weekdays. As I approached my office, ‘crime scene’ tape started to come into focus, however, the message across the door frame screamed ‘Over the Hill’. The ribbing didn’t end there. My office was adorned with skulls and crossbones, and a tombstone that said, ‘one foot in the grave’, along with a generous helping of spider webs, canes and ‘age appropriate’ symbols.

I worked on a team that had a good sense of community. We had teased each other before, grown together through the years and built trust. Had I been on another team, this prank may not have ended so well.

While it was a team effort to roast me on my birthday, I knew the likely instigator. Not to be outdone. I had a plan to memorialize our debate over whether the dish of chocolate candies on her desk was helpful or harmful to her co-workers. Our victim arrived to find a trail (ala Hansel and Gretel style) of fruits and vegetables leading from the entrance of our department to her desk, which was covered in its entirety with produce.

How others treat us influences our emotional health, which in turn, affects our physical health. A sense of community helps us avoid loneliness, which decreases anxiety and the risk of depression. When we treat each other with respect, kindness, and understanding, we lay the foundation for a positive social climate.

Leaders, managers, and supervisors have a crucial role in creating such a healthy community that constantly delivers well-being and good health for its members. But a positive social climate isn’t just good for your employees. Here’s why it’s also good for your business:

Ease of acquisition and retention: A positive social climate will give your organization the kind of reputation that will make it easier, faster, and cheaper to acquire the right talent. Importantly, the turnover will be low because employees wouldn’t want to trade a healthy ecosystem even for higher pay.

Better collaboration: Teams that get along well are not only more likely to share ideas but also brainstorm together and come up with innovative solutions. An encouraging ecosystem brings out the best in employees.

Improved trust: In positive social climates, employees know that they have each other’s support. This encourages them to take risks, which helps businesses meet new challenges. When there is no fear of retribution, it’s also easier for employees to give and receive feedback.

How to create a great social climate in your organization

The reciprocity of birthday pranks was well received because we had built a good social climate. Having fun together is just one way to enhance team morale. As a leader or manager, you can try the following tactics to create a positive social climate in your organization:

Shared vision: A vision is what unites people. Instead of merely looking at your objectives through the financial lens, you should have a vision that inspires, excites, and brings out the best in people. The ability of a shared vision to bring everyone together and work as a team for a common purpose bigger than themselves is vital to creating a positive social climate.

A strong shared vision serves to not only unite groups of people with inherent differences but also help individuals understand their contribution. That’s what gets employees to look forward to Mondays.

Positive attitude:  Everyone likes to be around upbeat and positive people. We can all identify those people who add energy or an extra step in our day. We also know the people who tend to suck the air out of the room. There are plenty of ways to create the ‘cup half full’ vibe. Here are just a few:

  • Words matter – choose uplifting language.
  • Acknowledge and recognize good work – pay a compliment!
  • Tone matters – using a soft voice and speaking calmly creates an inviting atmosphere
  • Body language matters – Eye contact is great and keeping an open and inviting posture helps as well. Nothing says ‘friendly’ more than a great big smile!

Sense of Community: Everyone wants to feel like they belong to a group; that they are accepted and part of something bigger.

Here are some ways to help everyone feel like they are part of the family:

  • Make sure no one feels left out. Be sure everyone gets the invitation if there’s a group gathering and that everyone is informed of news within the organization.
  • Create opportunities to get to know each other beyond the job and the workplace. It can be as simple as having everyone share something about their weekend during a team meeting or more involved such as inviting the team to post family and pet pictures on the break room bulletin board.
  • The team could volunteer together. In addition to helping someone or group that is less fortunate, it creates a bond around a common goal. Be sure to volunteer on company time, so that no one feels imposed upon.
  • Engage in a well-being activity and then post it on the company website. Not only does the activity bring the team together but sharing it with the rest of the company can add to the team spirit.

Many studies have come to the same conclusion. Most people don’t leave their job. They leave their manager. While salary and the actual work are important, the number one reason people leave their job is because of the way they are treated and the way their organization makes them feel. Create the feeling of one big family and not only will you attract and retain great people, but you’ll also enjoy your job more as well!

What’s your favorite strategy to create a great social climate on your team?  Share it as a comment to this post.