Culture is the environment that surrounds us all the time. A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share. This is shaped by individual upbringing, social and cultural context. In a workplace, however, the leadership and the strategic organizational directions and management influence the workplace culture to a huge extent. A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.
Research by Deloitte has shown that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that 76% of these employees believed that a “clearly defined business strategy” helped create a positive culture.
How can organizations create a positive workplace culture?
- Establish clear ethos and values for the organization: It is important to have a set of clear organizational core values that are communicated effectively and discussed with the employees so that they feel part of it. It is the commitment that an organization or a company makes to certain policies and actions, such as “going green” or “social change”. It is not enough to state this in the mission statement, brand story or in marketing and promotional material. It is crucial that demonstrable actions are taken regularly so that the employees feel an individual and personal responsibility towards these values. This will ensure that they can evaluate their own attitudes towards these positive core values, and take pride in them. Positive attitudes and positive actions make for a positive workplace culture.
- Foster collaboration and communication: Leadership and management style that encourages teamwork, open and honest communication is vital to creating a positive feeling in the workplace. Open and honest communication also means that regular audits are taken to evaluate how people are interacting with each other, feedback is welcomed and taken on board, and opportunities for social interaction are enabled. These can include coffee mornings, team getaways and family weekends. This gives an opportunity for team members to nurture and foster connections outside of work. Continued learning opportunities enabling team members to assess their inherent unconscious and implicit biases that can impact their interactions with other employees are crucial. Also, strict no tolerance open door policies and complaint procedure for workplace bullying is crucial for creating a positive collaborative environment.
- Create an inclusive work environment: A positive workplace is one where all the employees are valued, supported and nurtured irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or color. All employees should have equal opportunities to progress and equal access to all the perks and rewards on offer. An inclusive workplace is one that values individual differences in the workforce and makes them feel welcome and accepted. Include signage that supports inclusivity, is clear and positive. Language can create confusion and miscommunication. Careful use of language that reinforces the gender-conscious and inclusive ethos, such as that emphasizing the function of space rather than the gender identity of users is important.
- Create clear goals and rewards for the employees: The survey by Deloitte showed that 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success. Motivated and engaged employees can be created if they are treated equally and have clear goals that they can work towards. Having a transparent policy for progression and promotion offers the staff an opportunity to measure their performance. Measurable performance indicators will mean that there would be healthy competition, but this kind of honest policy statement would help avoid negative feelings and resentment amongst the team members towards each other. When goals are positively reinforced, and achievements are recognized and celebrated, it leads to employees feeling valued which in turn creates a positive feeling in the workplace.
A positive culture in the workplace is essential for fostering a sense of pride and ownership amongst the employees. When people take pride, they invest their future in the organization and work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the organization. By identifying and rewarding those who are actively striving towards creating a positive work culture, and supporting others around them, companies can encourage others to do the same. Positive attitudes and behavior in the workplace are the direct results of effective leadership and a positive management style.