There’s a new school of thought in the business world, one that makes positivity and employee experience a higher priority than it was in the past. It used to be that the majority of businesses focused on fiscal performance above all else. This meant that many workers experienced catastrophic burnout and that the daily grind became a “rat race” from which they were dying to escape. In recent years, however, the idea of using company culture as a benchmark for performance success has gained traction. Evidence is showing that the companies that are experiencing the most financial success are the same companies that prioritize worker experience and company culture.
What does this mean for your workplace? Well, companies should begin to recognize (if they don’t already!) that a positive workplace culture makes them more competitive, increases employee retention, and boosts their bottom line. So, if you’re not sure if your workplace has a positive culture, or if you would like to focus on elevating your employee’s experience to benefit your finances, we’ve compiled some strategies to support you in making these changes!
Your workplace has a culture just like any other community, with its own set of rules, norms, and values. This culture is evident in a variety of ways, including:
- Management’s approach to supervision, feedback, and conflict resolution
- Communication standards, including frequency, language, and chain-of-command
- Work-life balance and boundaries
- Camaraderie and rapport among colleagues
- Expectations around length of work days, holidays, and time off
Generally, these cultural aspects are informed by the values of higher-ups in the organization, and there may be times when the beliefs of management and the beliefs of the workforce don’t mesh. For example, some management teams value an in-person workforce, supporting the traditional 9-5 schedule and the idea that you have to show up to be heard. This more traditional way of looking at how a workplace operates, however, might isolate or exclude top-tier employees who can work more independently or who might benefit from being able to work from home.
Values are incredibly personal and discord between the values of an employer and their team, or a rigidity and inflexibility on the part of the higher-ups, can result in a negative experience, most often for employees. The impacts of a negative workplace culture can be devastating for employees, resulting in:
- Disputes or arguments between employees and management
- Feeling disinterested or unmotivated
- Pent up feelings of frustration and anger
- Physical symptoms of stress, like headaches, nausea, and muscle aches
The worst possible outcome for employers is that an unsatisfied employee will leave their position. If that happens, you will not only lose that employee and their potential, but you will also have lost an investment of your time, money, and expertise. Remember, if one employee is dissatisfied with their work experience it is likely that others are, too. When one employee leaves, it can trigger a domino effect, and even impact recruitment as word spreads about a toxic work environment.
Promoting A Positive Culture
There are things you can do to avoid a toxic workplace culture and ensure that employees feel like valued members of your organization’s community, who will then want to contribute to your business’s success.
- Identify employee needs. You might send out a survey assessing their experience with workplace culture, offering space for commentary and feedback.
- Formulate a plan. Come up with an organization-wide plan to address your employees’ feedback. It’s possible that some of their demands might not be feasible. If that is the case, it’s important to be transparent about the issue, rather than avoiding it all together.
- Invite employees to take ownership. Perhaps you don’t have the bandwidth to address some of the issues your employees have raised. Instead of ignoring the problem, you can encourage your employees to take matters into their own hands by forming a coalition or committee to work on the issue at hand.
- Find a compromise. You won’t be able to fix every issue, but when you can compromise, do. For example, you may not be able to allow everyone to work from home all the time, but can you offer your staff one day a week to work remotely?
- Maintain changes. This is the most critical step. In many cases, management implements changes to appease their staff, and within six months things have slid right back to where they were before. This can be even more devastating – a taste of what could have been – and can leave employees frustrated and angry. To avoid this, create open channels of communication for employee feedback. Maybe you have a monthly town hall where staff can voice their concerns, or have scheduled weekly “open door” hours where your employees can come to you about workplace issues.
- Check in annually. All of these strategies, especially a needs assessment, should be implemented at least yearly, to ensure accountability and accommodate any changes.
The Bottom Line
In days past, suggesting that businesses care about the culture of their workplace and employee satisfaction might have gotten you laughed out of the board room. Now, though, savvy business owners know that to value, respect, and include their employees in a positive workplace culture is to increase productivity, support success, and boost their bottom line. Overworked, undervalued employees have a lower productivity rate, are easily distracted, and often end up leaving the company. But when you invest in a positive experience for your employees, they are more likely to go above and beyond for their company.