Creating a positive work environment has a significant impact on employees’ attitude toward their job and colleagues, as well as their performance levels and productivity. Many benefits can be gained by cultivating a positive environment in which employees feel respected and important. According to a Deloitte survey, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that a positive work environment is essential for the overall success of a company. A positive workplace also:

With so many advantages, fostering a positive work environment should be an integral part of the strategic direction of any organization, especially those working in quality assurance. Here are some simple ways to foster a positive work environment for QA teams through communication and organizational changes.

When was the last time you helped a colleague?

group of QA engineers working together in officeWorkplace assistance can take many forms, including intern training, helping colleagues in need, and taking on additional work to complete a team project. 

If your organization has a competitive work culture—or if you’re among those who feel overwhelmed by workload—helping others in the workplace may not be at the top of your priority list. However, there are numerous benefits in helping and supporting your coworkers:

  • Strengthen work relationships. Helping out members of your QA team can help you build and strengthen work relationships, which will make your time at work much more enjoyable.
  • Make your job easier. Establishing yourself as a team player will inspire others to mirror your actions and make the everyone’s job easier. Being helpful and supportive is generally contagious, too. So if you get stuck on a task, you can expect others to help you.
  • Gain recognition. Being a team player is a nice trait to have—even more so if you have a performance review coming up. Receiving positive feedback from your team will ensure you get the recognition you deserve.
  • Access new learning opportunities. Helping colleagues paves the way for new learning opportunities that you may not have otherwise been exposed to.

You might be interested in: The Ideal Personality of a QA Engineer

Maintain a friendly attitude in the workplace to inspire positivity within your QA team—and beyond. Your positive attitude may influence the mood of a coworker, which can positively affect the overall work environment.

Do you have regular check-ins with your team?

If you’re a team lead, stop by your teams’ desks and ask for their comments and suggestions. Alternatively, if you work remotely, send them an informal message to show that you care and are here for them. You’d be surprised how much small actions like these can boost productivity across your team and organization, regardless of where an employee works. As stated in an Ernst & Young survey, 39% of American workers say regular check-ins from their colleagues about how they are doing, both personally and professionally, give them the greatest sense of belonging at work. Additionally, there are various positive aspects of daily check-ins, like:

  • Keeping up to date with what the team is doing on a daily basis.
  • Ensuring that team members have a sufficient amount of tasks.
  • Allowing leaders to assist employees who have questions regarding their daily tasks.

According to a study on the state of employee engagement, based on data gathered from thousands of organizations across 157 countries worldwide, 96% of employees believe that receiving feedback on a regular basis is beneficial. This is a fantastic opportunity for leaders to invest in their team’s development. Monthly one-on-one sessions, weekly planning meetings, and daily check-in conversations are options to provide more frequent feedback. Also, regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, 83% of employees value receiving it, as it helps them improve.

Having regular check-ins with your team and providing timely feedback will help build stronger relationships within your team, establish trust, and boost overall productivity.

Do you trust your team?

Trusting your team to gain knowledge, develop, and eventually function autonomously is part of a healthy work environment, however, at times, trust can also feel like you’re giving up control. When a team leader attempts to control all aspects of their team’s work, this is known as micromanagement. These aspects include tasks, techniques, and how team members manage their time. Autonomy allows employees to manage their own actions and does not imply complete independence, rather a group mindset that improves team performance.

two QA engineers workingAccording to a Trinity Solution’s survey, 79% of employee respondents reported that they had experienced micromanagement. Micromanagement was named the worst offense a leader can commit by 39% of the 2,000 employees who took part in a study carried out by Comparably.

The University of Birmingham looked at two years’ worth of data on 20,000 employees to analyze the impact of autonomy on employee morale and well-being. In general, the greater an employee’s level of autonomy is, the greater their sense of job satisfaction and well-being. However,  there were some gender differences:

  • Women emphasized the benefits of planning and location flexibility.
  • Men valued autonomy in terms of task allocation and work intensity. 

“Micromanaging is a fear-based behavior that has a negative effect on employee engagement and productivity.” – Fleet Maull, Founder-CEO of Windhorse Seminars & Consulting

Employees are more likely to contribute more frequently and enthusiastically if they believe their ideas and contributions are valued, as previously stated. Making our own decisions gives us a sense of control, especially over our own responsibilities, and makes us less vulnerable to the influence of others. 

Does your team feel confident to disagree and take risks?

Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor, was the first to identify the concept of psychological safety in work teams. Psychological safety creates an environment in which the team can disagree, take more risks, and admit mistakes without fear of being shot down.

Google developed a list of the five key dynamics that make teams successful: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact. The most important factor on the list is psychological safety. To foster psychological safety in the workplace:

  • Admit your faults.
  • Be open to opposing viewpoints. 
  • Ask questions to encourage people to share more.
  • Do not interrupt one another.
  • Treat all ideas equally and never judge them.
  • Encourage teams and individuals to view it as a means of strengthening and expanding their ideas, and not as a source of criticism.

Keep in mind that psychological safety in the workplace is about creating a safe environment for employees to be their true selves. This excerpt from the New York Times Magazine’s article on Google’s quest to build the perfect team perfectly summarizes it:

“No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel “psychologically safe,” we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency.”

Is it OK to have fun at work?

It’s important to keep in mind that we spend approximately a third of our lives at work. Employees that are having the fun drawn out of them at work aren’t giving their best effort. The importance of having fun in life cannot be stressed enough.

There is some strong evidence that allowing employees to have fun at work is a good idea. It can have a positive effect on both the employee as an individual and the company as a whole. For instance, having fun and enjoying your time at work: 

  • Enhances communication within and across teams. According to Dimensional research, 65% of knowledge workers collaborate multiple times per day and fun enhances communication, improving the quality of the collaboration.
  • Encourages incidental learning. Having fun allows team members to pick up knowledge and learn new skills without even noticing it. According to business psychologist Simon Kilpatrick, people learn more effectively when they are having fun—like participating in team building activities—because there is less pressure. 
  • Improves productivity. According to research from the University of Warwick, happiness makes people around 12% more productive.

woman laughing at workOrganizing office games can be a good starting point to promote a fun work environment—or online activities if team members are working remotely. In his article, Jeff Murphy mentions some ideas:

  • Hosting Zoom parties and virtual team building activities.
  • Scheduling quick exercise or stretch breaks throughout the day.
  • Trying guided meditation to practice mindfulness during a weekly team meeting. 

Don’t feel guilty about having fun at work. It’s OK to take a break from the seriousness of business every now and then—it’s even recommended. Having fun at work can improve your productivity, quality of work, and overall well being. 

Create the best work environment for QA teams

Whether you are a team member or a team lead, remember that the type of work environment you foster depends on you. Think about what’s best for you and your team and take action. Follow our tips to foster a positive work environment where your QA team can thrive.

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