What is work culture and why is it important?
Before talking about how to create a positive work culture, it is essential to remind ourselves what is it and why is it so essential.
Work culture is the environment and atmosphere created for the employees to work. It has a significant role in determining their job satisfaction, relationships, career advancement, and a sense of belonging at work. It is a mix of the organization’s values, traditions, beliefs, leadership, intercommunications, responses, and emotions that contribute to the emotional and relational environment of the workplace.
According to many studies, organizations that operate in lousy work culture and cut-throat environments become less and less productive over time. Yet a positive environment has a clear and evident effect on benefits for employees, employers, and the business. The outdated assumption that stress and pressure push employees to perform better, more and faster has been rebutted time and again. Some of the drawbacks of working in such organizations are health problems which will then incur vast amounts of health care costs, significant effects on disengagement leading to its related fees, and lack of loyalty and its associated costs. All of these together can create enormous costs for the organization. That is why many organizations have been and are striving to have a positive work culture.
Now that we know what work culture is, and the implications of toxic and harmful work culture on the organization; let us see :
Why it is crucial to create and have a positive work culture?
- It has a significant effect on attracting and keeping talented employees. Organizations need to invest in creating a positive work culture, as the employees spend more time at work than at home and so they want to work in an environment where they can enjoy spending their time.
- It leads to higher engagement and retention among employees. After the successful recruitment of employees, it is crucial to keep the employees engaged and keep them on board for longer. A good work culture helps organizations do that.
- It provides a platform for personal and professional development. A positive work culture offers opportunities for employees to grow by promoting openness and encouraging them to pursue their development needs.
- It leads to significant rises in employee satisfaction and productivity. Employees will feel happy to come to work every day and deliver on a larger scale if there is a healthy work culture at work.
- It contributes to higher financial performance. Work culture directly influences the way employees to perform, which subsequently has a direct impact on business’ economic profit.
We should also not ignore to mention the direct effect of work culture has on creating a sense of belonging at work. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends report, creating a feeling of belonging at work is the outcome of three mutually reinforcing attributes. Workers should feel relaxed at work, including being treated justly and appreciated by their co-workers. They should feel applicable to the people they work with and the teams they are part of. And they should think that they contribute to meaningful work outcomes – understanding how their unique strengths are helping their teams and organizations achieve common goals.
How to create a positive work culture?
When it comes to building a positive work culture several essential principles can be considered, which are: caring for colleagues as friends, providing support for one another (especially the ones who are struggling), forgiving mistakes and avoiding blame, providing a space for innovation for self and others, clarifying and emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work, and treating each other with trust, respect, gratitude, and integrity.
In line with these principles, there are further steps that can be taken:
- Promoting social connections. Positive social relationships at work produce highly desirable results, leading to a reduction in getting sick and getting depressed, and at the same time, it leads to faster recoveries, faster learning, higher thresholds for pain and discomfort, and overall better performance on the job.
- Be helpful and go out of your way to help. Research shows that when leaders are fair and self-sacrificing, their employees become more loyal and committed. Consequently, it creates a self-reinforcing cycle where employees try to be more helpful and friendly towards other employees. Self-sacrificing leaders inspire their employees to be more collaborative. Hence, they trust their leaders more and are more productive.
- Be empathetic. Leaders have a direct effect on the feelings of employees. When leaders show empathy towards employees, it fosters collectivism and resilience in times of hardship.
- Promotes a culture of open doors, encouraging people to talk to you. Provide a safe and open environment and encourage people to speak to you mainly about their problems. A culture of safety leads to better learning and performance outcomes. When people feel that their leaders have their best interests in mind, it has a significant impact on their performance and delivery.
- Try to encourage employee relationships. Increase in effective communication is an outcome of healthy relationships at work.
- Keep employees’ burnout in mind. When people are overworked and stressed, it will lead to a negative culture at work and poor performance. Encouraging people to have enough rest and take care of their health has a high impact on culture and performance.
- Strive to provide a comfortable workplace. It’s a given that no one wants to work in a toxic environment. On the other hand, people want to be appreciated and valued. Providing a comfortable and inviting atmosphere is vital for having a positive culture.
- Provide a learning environment and encourage learning. Organizations need to be continually learning and adapting to be able to survive. And so people should be given the tools and opportunities to learn, upskill, and grow; leading to enhancements in innovation, performance, and productivity, ultimately moving the business and organization forward.
- Foster an environment of respect, collaboration, and supportiveness. In order to have a positive culture, it’s imperative to foster and establish these traits at work.
Practicing and establishing these traits will lead to a positive culture at work and ultimately to better-performing business. Of course, there are other factors and methods to consider. Professor Geert Hofstede has done one of the prominent and extensive studies done on workplace culture, which is called Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. I strongly suggest reading more about his theory if you are looking for practical solutions to build a healthy work culture.