Creating a positive workplace culture by Maree Ferguson

We spend much of our time at work, so it is important that we enjoy coming to work each day.   Below are some of my tips for creating a positive workplace culture.  For many of the strategies you don’t have to be a manager to implement them. 

1.Create a vision, mission and strategic plan  (more information on this step next week)

Creating a vision and mission can inspire and motivate people to want to be a part of the journey and bigger plan.  Our vision at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) is to be recognised as an international centre of excellence in nutrition and dietetics practice.  Our mission is advancing nutrition through innovative practice.

I also recommend developing a strategic plan so each person knows exactly how he or she contribute to the goals of the department.  I suggest using the framework from the Studer Group that has five pillars: service, quality, people, growth, and finance.  You can develop key performance indicators for each of these areas.   Remember to keep your plan alive by reviewing it at least monthly as a department to see how you are tracking. 

2.Establish an identity

At PAH we introduced a uniform to help establish our own professional identity.  This had a significant impact in improving our recognition and profile within the hospital.  We had comments such as “we didn’t know there were so many dieititians in the hospital!” We also developed our own branding for communication such as word and powerpoint templates.  In addition, we included our mission in our email signature line. 

3.Create a research culture and support professional development

It is my belief that embracing research creates a culture of continuous quality improvement and innovation, that becomes infectious and people want to be a part of the research movement.  

It’s also important to support the growth and development of staff by supporting attendance at nutrition courses and conferences, working on research projects, and through mentoring.  At PAH, we also spent a lot of time on non-nutrition self-development activities related to heightening self-awareness, communication and team building.

4.Reward and recognise

We “gossiped success” by sharing and celebrating positive achievements at the start of every meeting at PAH.  Staff were nominated for hospital awards.  At the end of each year, we reviewed our annual accomplishments and recognised each staff member with their own unique contribution to meeting our strategic plan.  Dietitian Day was introduced annually to celebrate the amazing work being done by our dietitians.

5.Have fun!

We implemented the FISH philosophy at PAH to introduce a little bit of fun into the workplace.  The Fish philosophy started in a Seattle fish market where the employees didn’t like going to work and they weren’t selling a lot of fish.  The employees decided to have fun at work, involving their customers in games such as throwing fish.  As a result, the fish market is now a tourist destination.  The four fish principles are: choose your attitude (each day you can choose to have a positive attitude), play (have fun at work), be there (be fully present when you are talking with someone and don’t be distracted by other things), and make their day (go out of your way to do something good for someone else).  One of the FISH activities was Dietitians Day Out where we finished work a few hours early and participated in activities such as cake decorating and yoga.