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How to create a positive work environment for employees

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By Mike Davis, Head of SME Direct, AXA PPP healthcare

For small businesses, developing a positive work environment for employees can have a big impact. From improved employee retention and recruitment to increased productivity. According to one study, a third of British workers (34%) quit their job due to poor company culture [1].

Although a positive company culture can have so many positive benefits for a business, it can often be overlooked when workloads are high and time is tight. However, putting company culture as a high priority can prove to be hugely beneficial for employee engagement and morale.


There are a number of different ways that small business owners can create a positive work environment for their team. 

Training and development

Offering your team regular opportunities for training and development can be a great way to create a positive working environment within your business. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career [2]. Developing a training plan for each team member can be one way to ensure that learning and development is seen as a priority within the business. You could also set aside time in your team’s diaries for them to participate in development opportunities, whether that’s via external training courses or online resources. 

Although employees may place a high importance on regular learning at work, it can be hard to find the time to take part in training courses. This can be particularly so in small businesses where time and resources may be limited. Line managers should ensure that their teams are aware of and actively encourage training opportunities. The same LinkedIn report found that 56% of employees would spend more time learning if their manager suggested a course to improve skills [2].

Two-way feedback

Regular feedback can have a positive impact on the overall culture of an organisation. According to one survey, almost a quarter of employees (23%) only receive feedback once a year during their reviews, whilst more than one fifth (21%) never receive feedback from their manager [3]. Employees shouldn’t have to wait until their annual performance review in order for them to receive any feedback from their line manager in terms of their performance. Instead, a more continuous learning approach where feedback is incorporated into the business more regularly could prove to be more beneficial from an employee wellbeing and performance perspective. 


Conversely, feedback from employees about the business should also be encouraged. Ensuring that this feedback from employees is taken on board and acted upon can have a number of benefits when it comes to improving the overall work environment. According to a Salesforce survey, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times (4.6X) more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work [4].

Foster creativity and innovation

Encouraging a culture of creativity at work can be a great way to develop a positive work environment for employees. One report found that businesses that invest in creativity are more likely to have happier employees [5]. Despite this, creativity may not be being as actively encouraged by business owners as employees would like it to be. The same report revealed that 77% of respondents agreed that there is increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative [5].

Creativity in the workplace can be encouraged in a number of different ways. Small business owners can encourage employees to challenge any systems or processes that they think are ineffective, and ask them to come up with new ideas for how they can be improved. Employees can also be given more autonomy to make their own decisions and try new approaches when it comes to their work. This can help to encourage creativity and innovation within the business.

Employee health and wellbeing

Employee health and wellbeing can be fundamental to the culture of an organisation. When employees feel well, both physically and mentally, they’re likely to have a much more positive impact on company culture than if they weren’t feeling their best.

Investing in employee health and wellbeing schemes can have a positive effect in a number of different ways, from employee retention to increased productivity. According to one case study from Anglian Water, for every £1 invested in employee wellbeing, they got £8 of benefit back through reduced staff absence and raised productivity [6]. 


There’s a wide variety of different health and wellbeing incentives that business owners can incorporate as part of an employee wellbeing benefits package, from private health insurance to childcare vouchers. According to a recent survey, employees ranked health insurance as the second most valued benefit (43%), following a contributory pension scheme (62%) [7].

AXA PPP healthcare cover

At AXA PPP healthcare, our small business healthcare cover provides a range of benefits to help you look after your team. They’ll feel supported and reassured that they can get help when they need it most. We know that every business is different, that’s why we offer a range of cover options so you can choose the ones that best fit your business and your people. 

Find out more about our small business healthcare cover, including what we do and don’t cover and get a quote today.
Sources and references

1 BreatheHR
2 LinkedIn, 2018
3 BreatheHR
4 Salesforce, 2017 
5 Adobe State of Create report, 2016
6 Financial Times, 2017
7 Employee Benefits, 2019