Research has found that 49% of workers are thinking about leaving or planning to apply for a new job in the next 12 months. The survey showing this startling statistic was done by our company, SGEnz, in partnership with survey and research specialists Stickybeak.

The survey found that the second-most-important aspect of an employee's work experience is a positive and inclusive work environment. That comes after a caring, respectful and supportive manager.

Those surveyed said a positive environment was one of the key factors that would help them decide whether they stay or go – and what they would look for in another job.

As a leader, there are some simple steps you can take to create a positive work environment so your people feel better for being there and want to perform at a higher level. 

Building positivity within your team’s daily and weekly routines improves wellness, reduces stress, increases productivity, enhances performance and creates generally happier employees. It's about building the right type of team culture, and it's something every manager must do.  

Pause and reflect

Leaders should carve out opportunities during the day or week where their employees can pause and reflect on their work. 

It can be motivating for employees to reflect at the start of the shift about what they want to accomplish that day or what they achieved the previous day. They could also reflect for a few minutes at the end of the shift by discussing with you or their colleagues how the day went. 

Managers should use this important time to listen to their teams and consider how they can better enable or empower their people for the next day or some other time in the future. By using this time, managers can help employees to feel connected to their work and realise that their work matters.   

Everyone needs a break

Employees need to have opportunities to take breaks throughout their shift or day. 

Our minds and bodies are designed to perform at their fullest capacity for only about 90 to 120 minutes before they need a short break. So, managers need to plan and to schedule their people to take breaks, but, more importantly, they must guide them on what makes a break effective. 

Research suggests that breaks should include a few minutes to stretch or adjust posture, eat a light snack, take a walk outside, drink some water, and take a few deep breaths. These short breaks are a great way for employees to get a quick mental and physical boost for their day.  

Know your people

Leaders can create opportunities for meaningful conversations by understanding what their employees' passions and priorities are. Engaging with staff on topics important to them is a great way to show that they are cared for as individuals, not just as employees. Leaders can also use this information to support their team in finding the right work-life balance. 

For example, if you know that an employee values spending time with their family, consider how you can adjust their schedule from time to time to allow for this. This may not always be possible, but supporting employees in what is important to them will increase their gratitude for their leader and make them value their job. 

Ask yourself if you know the three most important passions or priorities for each of your staff.  

Talk about how people make a difference

Each week, ask each member of your team how they impacted someone positively and what was the most meaningful thing to happen to them. Asking these questions encourages your staff to reflect on their actions and reinforces how each of them can make a difference for others through their job.  

Make it fun

Create regular opportunities for your team to have fun. Whether it's a team lunch, playing games, or creating friendly competitions, infusing fun into the work environment helps to lift everyone’s mood and leaves employees feeling refreshed. 

I've seen managers share brain teasers, cartoons, (appropriate) jokes, or movie clips, or even just ask stupid questions to get a few laughs from the team. There are plenty of online resources to help guide your efforts in this space.  

Remember to say thank you

Express your gratitude to your team for things they did well. Positive feedback makes employees feel as though their efforts are noticed and appreciated. It reinforces the type of behaviour you want your team to display.

Make sure to give feedback consistently each week, even if the week didn’t go as planned. As a bonus, the leader providing positive feedback will also feel appreciative of their team's hard work.