workplace culture

Workplace Culture

Workplace culture is difficult to observe and often difficult to define. How do companies create an intentional, positive culture in the workplace? What are the key performance indicators to track when it comes to determining how healthy or unhealthy a workplace culture is? Today we’re diving into the sometimes-nebulous but clearly vital world of creating, fostering, and maintaining a positive culture within your organization. First, let’s discuss what constitutes a workplace culture.
 

unless your culture is intentionally modeled from leadership, there is a very real danger of creating a toxic work environment

 

What is it?

According to greatgame.com, “When we talk about “work culture” within an organization, what we mean is: a set of shared rules, beliefs, and attitudes that dictate how things are done and how people interact. Every organization has a culture, whether formally acknowledged or not, and it is generally dictated by the leadership”. The communication and reinforcement of these organizational values shapes both employees actions and perceptions about their place of work.

 

Why it matters:

Employees in this day and age have higher expectations of their employers than simply collecting a paycheck. A 2018 LinkedIn survey notes, “professionals say they are proudest to work at companies that promote work-life balance and flexibility (51%), foster a culture where they can be themselves (47%) and have a positive impact on society (46%)”. In short, today’s employees want to work somewhere they can be proud of, somewhere that aligns with their belief system, and that cares about more than just the bottom line.

 
Culture inevitably emerges when people come together at work, and unless that culture is intentionally modeled from leadership, there is a very real danger of creating a toxic work environment, leading to a vast array of negative results, not just for your employees, but for your business as well.
 
Some drawbacks of a negative workplace culture:

  • Disengaged employees
  • Higher turnover rates
  • Bad customer relations
  • Reduced profits
  • Poor communication
  • Increased absenteeism

 
hbr.org paints a discouraging picture of the impacts of worker disengagement, stating that “disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.”

 
On the flip side, the Society for Human Resource Management tells us “When an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.”

 
Some benefits of a positive workplace culture:

  • Higher employee retention
  • Increased performance
  • Positive organizational reputation
  • Greater trust
  • Improved employee engagement

 

How to create a positive workplace culture:

Harvard Business Review states that “the qualities of a positive workplace culture boils down to six essential characteristics:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.”

 
But where to start? First, an organization should settle on its core values – the things which are at the heart of the company and drive decision making. This is foundational to the workplace culture, because it will inform the next step, which is to decide what kind of culture you want to create. Once your core values and type of culture are settled, you can begin to set goals that align with those values.

 
Note that the six essential characteristics of a positive workplace culture above are all relational. Caring for colleagues, providing support, avoiding placing blame, inspiring, emphasizing why what you do matters, and treating one another with respect. While none of these are focused on the company bottom line, they are vital to employee success and happiness, which is in turn vital to the success of the company.

 
So, how do you implement a culture based on these principles? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage positive social connections: research by Sarah Pressman at the University of California, Irvine, found that the probability of dying early is 70% higher for people with poor social relationships. People with positive social connections experience fewer illnesses, both physical and mental.
  • Display compassion: and train your managers to do the same. Bosses have a large impact on how their employees feel. According to this LinkedIn article, “A Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself.”
  • Foster loyalty: employees who see self-sacrifice modeled from their employers are often inspired to pay it forward, becoming more loyal themselves. Not only does this foster loyalty, but creates strong trust when you go out of your way for your employees.
  • Communication: open and honest communication is key to a positive workplace culture. The opposite can lead to a culture of fear and negativity, where people are discouraged from asking questions, which leads to lower employee performance outcomes.

 
While we can’t create your workplace culture for you, Care Plus Solutions is always here to help with a variety of both employee and management assistance solutions, ranging from work-life to wellness and beyond.
 
 

Care Plus Solutions is America’s first EAP and is headquartered in New York and has offices in New Jersey. Over the course of the company’s 46 year history, their brand has remained firmly rooted in the rich history of the EAP field, never losing sight of the fundamental purpose of the EAP; delivering personal and quality services to those in need. It is fair to say that Care Plus Solutions is the gold standard in the field of Employee Assistance.

 

Sources:
Workplace Culture. https://www.greatgame.com/the-fundamentals/workplace-culture
Workplace Culture Trends: The Key to Hiring (and Keeping) Top Talent in 2018. https://blog.linkedin.com/2018/june/26/workplace-culture-trends-the-key-to-hiring-and-keeping-top-talent
Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive. https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive
Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/understandinganddevelopingorganizationalculture.aspx
http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/pressman/publications/
Employees don’t leave Companies, they leave Managers. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/employees-dont-leave-companies-managers-brigette-hyacinth
 

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