Today’s culture in the workplace is much different and more diverse than even just a decade ago. The typical employer and employee relationship has been flipped around, and now employees have almost limitless opportunities for employment. This has created an environment where it is essential for businesses to focus on establishing a workplace culture that is geared toward employee satisfaction as this is vital for keeping employees in your organization for the long term.
So how can you go about creating a great culture in the workplace that is a transparent, safe environment where employees are a highly engaged cohesive unit? Or how can you go about improving the current culture in your workplace? In this article, we will look at the basics of workplace culture and explain how it can affect employee productivity and engagement. We will also outline some straightforward approaches you can take to enhance your workplace environment without spending a ton of money.
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What Is Workplace Culture?
Workplace culture is the personality of your organization from the employee perspective. It is the sum of the characteristics of what makes your organization unique. This can be anything relating to your values, beliefs, attitudes, traditions and behaviors. You culture has visible components such as the way your business looks, how your employees dress, and how they carry themselves. But it also goes deeper than that.
— MailChimp (@MailChimp) June 11, 2016
Culture is the environment surrounding your work at all times. Mail Chimp does a great job proudly promoting their employees and workplace. It is the intangibles that shape your work environment, your relationships at work and the processes that are carried out on a daily basis. Culture in the workplace is the behavior that results when your employees arrive at a set of unspoken and unwritten rules of working together.
Key Concepts of Culture in the Workplace
While there are many pieces that make up your organizational culture, three key concepts lie at the heart of forming a healthy culture within any workplace.
- Culture is synonymous with behavior. Culture is a word that is used to describe the behaviors that represent day-to-day operating norms within your workplace environment. These behaviors directly reflect the organizational values your business wants to portray. For example, if your organization values employee engagement, your employees will be more productive. If it values transparency and communication, your employees are more likely inclined to collaborate and feel included. You want to make sure your values support your progress and success as anything else will impede your progress.
- Culture is something that is learned. Just like in everyday life, people learn certain behaviors through rewards or consequences that follow a particular behavior. Make sure you are rewarding positive behaviors as it will cause these behaviors to be repeated, and with time become part of the culture norm. Simple gestures like recognizing your employees or coming up with creatives ways to keep them engaged can go a long way in reinforcing these types of behaviors.
- Interactions play a fundamental role in shaping culture. Your employees are constantly learning and molding your company culture from their interactions with others in the workplace. Even prospective employees can get a good sense of your company culture, and their fit within your culture from early in the interview process.
The culture that a new or even existing employee learns and experiences is shaped by everyone they interact with, including managers, coworkers and even executives. Through repeated interactions and conversations, it’s important to communicate the specific elements of the company culture that you’d like to see continued. If these types of interactions don’t take place, employees with form their own idea of the culture, and this is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Why Is Culture in the Workplace Important?
Culture in the workplace is important because it links company culture with things like employee engagement, happiness, productivity, attrition rate and positive recruitment efforts. Workplace culture can be just as important as your overall business strategy because it can either bolster or erode your organization and your company objectives. Fostering a workplace culture that is transparent and inclusive is of particular importance because:
- A Columbia University study found the likelihood of turnover at a organization with great company culture is 13.9%, whereas job turnover at businesses with poor or no company culture is 48.4%.
- Unhappy employees cost US businesses $300 billion each year. The University of Warwick did a study which proved a correlation between happiness and productivity, citing happy employees were 12% more productive than the average worker.
- Happy employees are more likely to solve difficult problems faster and outperform the competition by 20%.
The bottom line is your culture in the workplace makes a difference. It goes well beyond keeping everyone happy, engaged and productive in order to increase revenue. Fostering positive company culture helps encourage innovative solutions and innovations that might not have come to fruition otherwise. When your employees feel valued and heard, they respect the organization more and will be engaged with the work they are doing.
Best Approaches to Enhance Culture in the Workplace
There are countless different ways to improve your company culture, and most methods can be modified to fit your particular environment. Here are eight of the best approaches we’ve found to enhance your workplace environment without spending too much money:
- Foster effective communication. Communication is essential in any workplace environment as it creates an open line to suggestions and criticisms and involves every single member of your organization. Engaging employees through an employee advocacy tool such as Bambu allows them to more effectively communicate not only within the walls of their organization, but also allows them to become thought leaders within their own social circles.
- Create a fun corporate culture. While all your employees know they are there to work, it’s important to let them have a good time while doing it. Through the simple act of holding company sporting events, cookouts catered luncheons or participating in charitable causes, you allow your employees to blow off some steam and de-stress. This will enable them to focus better on the task at hand when they get back to their desks.
- Truly live your company mission. Your entire organization needs to embody what your business stands for. This starts from the top down. Your executives need to live and breath your company culture and show your employees they work with transparency and integrity. A simple way to get new or prospective employees acquainted to your company mission is to have it somewhere clearly visible on your website or in your office. This also serves as a daily reminder to current employees of your company mission.
- Recognize your employees. This is by far one of the most effective ways to enhance your company culture. You should be celebrating the victories, no matter how big or small. By recognizing the efforts of what your employees put into their jobs in a public setting, you positively reinforce behaviors, causing these behaviors to become engrained in your corporate culture. Looking for some great ways to recognize your employees? We discussed 21 creative ways to give your employees recognition in one of our latest blog posts.
- Involve everyone from the top down. While there is a need for upper management to direct your company in its overarching goals, it’s imperative that you involve your employees in critical decisions. The big decisions made in any company will affect all levels of an organization, but by not involving your employees in these decisions, you will slowly build resentment throughout the organization.
— Dropbox (@Dropbox) January 28, 2016
- Be supportive of your employee’s goals. Just like you have dreams and aspirations for your organization, your employees have them too. By getting to know your employees on a more intimate level and encourage them in their hobbies and dreams, you show them support which will in turn be reciprocated to the organization. Just look at what Google did with it’s 20% time, which allowed workers to spend 20% of their time working on personal projects. Some of the biggest Google products such as Gmail, AdSense and Google News came out of this, so it pays to be involved and supportive of your employees’ ambitions.
- Ask for feedback. This is one of the most overlooked corporate culture enhancement techniques there it. Asking your employees to fill out an employee satisfaction survey can give you great insight into what your employees are happy with, whether that is parts of their daily work or the workplace culture they are immersed in. It’s important to act on employee dissatisfactions where you can, as not doing so is a recipe for disaster.
- Be transparent. Transparency eliminates the need for your employees to question the intentions of the leaders of your organization. Do something as simple as letting your employees see how your organization spends company money. This immediately builds trust. Transparency lets employees see where the company is going and how it’s going to grow.
Get Started With Better Company Culture
Your company culture should be the center of your organizational values. It should be lived day in and day out, and through every member of your organization. Doing so will allow for a much more productive, engaged and happier workforce who will stick around for much longer and produce results that will be directly reflected in your bottom line.