Building a productive workplace is the goal of all managers. Yet so many fail to achieve the results that they’re looking for. In most cases, this comes down to a toxic culture in the workplace.

Productivity isn’t just an issue that Australian businesses face. It’s a global challenge that includes many facets. Building a productive workplace takes centre stage for most managers. Yet so few manage to achieve it. That’s why Australia’s average productivity per employee only rose by 1.8% during the five years up to 2016. 


While this marks an increase, it’s minor at best. Some would argue that productivity has remained static during this period.

Other countries have it even worse. In the United States, productivity fell by 0.1% during 2016. While it rose again in 

2017, it was only by a small amount. Again, it’s a yo-yo effect that shows that many managers struggle to get the most out of their people.

Happiness Links to Productivity

Happiness may seem like an intangible concept. But there’s no denying that it plays a large role in building a productive workplace. If your people aren’t happy in the workplace, they won’t display positive workplace behaviours.

This isn’t just speculation. Happy employees improve your organisation’s productivity by as much as 20%. On an individual basis, a happy employee is 12% more productive than an unhappy one.

Perhaps the most shocking statistic relates to monetary rewards. A staggering 36% of people would sacrifice $5,000 per year if it meant feeling happier at work.

That final statistic is a particularly enlightening one. It doesn’t just show how desirable happiness is in the workplace. It also shows that your people value their happiness over the money that they earn.building a productive workplace

This means that salary increases are not the key to building a productive workplace. While they may help, an unhappy employee is still an unhappy employee. They just have a bigger bank balance. You may see a short-term increase in productivity. But a toxic workplace culture will drag even your highest-paid people down.

This lack of happiness is what leads to your best people jumping ship. These organisations that struggle to remain productive often do so because they can’t attract and keep the best talent. This may be because of a toxic culture in the workplace. Or, it may fall down to poor management.

Whatever the case may be, their people aren’t happy. This makes building a productive workplace much more difficult. Unmotivated and unhappy people won’t push themselves further to get results. They’ll simply do the bare minimum needed to get through the working day. Naturally, the quality of their work suffers as a result.

Therefore, creating a happy workplace is the key to building a productive workplace. But there are several reasons why this proves difficult for so many.

The Reasons for Unhappy Workplaces

To confront the productivity issue, you must first confront the happiness issue. It’s important to understand the reasons why your people may feel unhappy in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there’s no cut and dried reasoning for unhappiness. Different factors affect different people. But the following are some of the most common reasons why unhappiness tinges your organisation.

building a productive workplace

Reason #1 – The Belief That Money Solves All

This is a belief that many managers struggle to get past. As previously mentioned, money isn’t the key driver for many of your people. In fact, many would take less money if it meant feeling happier.

Yet a surprising number of managers believe that their best people leave over money issues. In The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, Leigh Branham discusses this issue in detail. He says that 89% of managers believe that money lies at the heart of a person’s decision to leave an organisation.

But other stats suggest that this isn’t the case. In fact, money is a factor in only 12% of cases of people leaving.

A focus on money prevents you from building a productive workplace. It causes you to lose sight of the issues that affect your people on a daily basis.

Reason #2 – Lack of Trust

If people don’t trust their managers, they won’t reach the highest levels of productivity.

Unfortunately, mistrust of management is a common issue in the workplace. A survey from management software organisation Kimble demonstrates this. It found that only 23% of people have a full insight into what their organisation does. Moreover, 46% of people expressed doubts about the information their managers provide. They believe they’re offered a skewed representation of the organisation in order to keep them working.

A lack of trust is a sure sign of a toxic culture in the workplace. When that mistrust extends to you, the organisation suffers. Your people feel unhappy working for somebody who they don’t believe offers transparency. As a result, they doubt everything that you tell them. It’s hard to motivate your team to perform when they don’t believe in you.

In fact, the same survey highlights this. 23% of respondents say that they’d feel more motivated if they worked for a transparent company. According to Harvard Business Review, 58% of people would trust a stranger over their manager.

You can’t expect high productivity levels from people who don’t trust you.

Reason #3 – Lack of Appreciation

When’s the last time that you gave one of your people a pat on the back? Or even a simple “thank-you” for doing their work?

Hopefully, you do this on a regular basis. Yet many managers fail to show even the most basic appreciation for their people’s efforts.

That’s a huge problem. Everybody wants to feel like their manager appreciates their input. Knowing that their work has a positive effect boosts motivation and happiness levels.

Again, the stats bear this out. A white paper published by O.C. Tanner Learning Group tells us more. It examined over 200,000 people from across the world. The white paper found that 79% of those who left a job cited “lack of appreciation” as a reason.

Imagine if nobody recognised your accomplishments, no matter what they were. That would make you unhappy and thus make you less likely to want to accomplish more. That’s exactly what happens in a workplace that doesn’t encourage appreciation as part of its culture.

The same white paper proves this. It highlights simple recognition as being what most people desire in the workplace.

Reason #4 – Poor Managementbuilding productivity in the workplace

All of these reasons fall under the banner of poor management. The simple fact is that you’re the most likely cause of unhappiness in the workplace.

That may seem harsh, but it’s also true. A staggering 75% of people point to their manager as being one of the reasons why they left their job.

Poor managers can take many forms. They may actively promote a toxic culture in the workplace because they allow poor behaviours. They may exhibit these behaviours themselves. Some managers clearly don’t have passion for their work, which makes it seem pointless to their people. Yet others don’t understand what their people want from the workplace. It’s still so common to have managers who have received little-to-no people management training.

Whatever the problem may be, it often has nothing to do with the organisation itself. Instead, unhappy people usually cite their managers as the biggest issue.

Tips for Building a Productive Workplace

The simple fact is that you may be your own biggest barrier to building a productive workplace.

Thankfully, there are plenty of things that you can do to counter unhappiness in the workplace. Here are some useful tips.

Tip #1 – Be Honest With Yourself

There is no such thing as a perfect manager. The moment that you stop looking for ways to improve is the moment that you open the door to a toxic culture in the workplace.

For a manager to increase happiness and raise productivity, they must first look at themselves. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and shortcomings. Ask yourself what you do well and where you can improve. Importantly, ask your people too. Find out what you can do directly from the people whose work lives you affect with your decisions.

The simple fact that you open yourself up to improvement offers a benefit to your people. They’ll see that you want to get better, which makes them happier. It also inspires them to try harder because you are.

building a productive workplace

Tip #2 – Build a Community

Communication lies at the heart of any trusting relationship. As established earlier, a lack of trust often leads to unhappiness.

Build a community within the workplace to encourage people to share more of themselves. The more your team know about you and their teammates, the happier they’ll feel at work. Encourage personal conversations and hold outings with your team. Show that you’re all in it together and that you care about their wellbeing.

This sense of community transfers into the workplace. Your people feel happier because they’re more connected to you and each other. As a result, they’re more willing to push themselves to get better results.

Even something as simple as asking your people how they are when they come into work can help.

Tip #3 – Don’t Micromanage

It’s common for managers to believe that deep scrutiny of their people leads to better results.

While it’s certainly true that you must analyse your people, this belief opens the door to micromanagement.

When you micromanage your people, you constantly tell them that you don’t believe in them. You’re saying that their skills aren’t enough to get the job done. They need you watching over their shoulder to help them to succeed.

A Trinity Solutions study highlighted the issues that this causes. It found that 79% of those questioned had experienced micromanagement during their careers. Of that 79%, 69% said that this micromanagement caused them to reconsider their careers. Shockingly, 36% of people left their jobs due to the issue.

That’s a sure sign of the stresses that micromanagement can cause. Trust your people and back off a little. They’ll feel happier because they can take control of something.

The Final Word

This is by no means a definitive guide to building a productive workplace. There is much more that you can do to get better results.

The key lies in understanding the reasons why people feel unhappy in the first place. It often comes down to one of the following:

  • They don’t have trust in you.
  • They don’t receive the level of appreciation that they think they deserve.
  • There’s too much of a focus on money.
  • Your management style causes them to feel unhappy.

Whatever the case may be, low happiness levels leads to poor productivity. That’s something the Great Managers Academy can help you with.

Remember that a Great Manager can DOUBLE the capability of their people.

Register for our next free webinar to learn more about creating a happy and productive workplace