Product-market fit, customer service, on-time delivery, product pricing, marketing and sales… these are some of the qualities conventional business wisdom states are responsible for a company’s success. An equally important factor that goes a long way towards determining business success, especially in modern scenarios, is how people are treated. A successful company is usually one where employees feel valued and their contributions are seen as important. Equally important for a successful company is to build a culture that allows every single employee to feel nurtured. One of the least heralded factors in a business’ success is the kind of workplace culture nurtured within the company. In fact, workplace culture not only has a vital role to play in a company’s success, its effect echoes on almost all aspects of the company. Dozens of studies across the world have demonstrated the benefits of positive workplace culture and how it can help employees find value in their work and give the best of their capabilities and skills.
However, building this workplace culture is easier said than done. Building a company’s workplace culture is not just a one-time exercise. Nor is workplace culture a simple metric or aspirational benchmark that can be attained once and then forgotten about. Workplace culture is essentially the company’s entire living personality – values, ethics, beliefs, attitudes, organization goals, teamwork, management, leadership, workflow. All of these aspects need to consistently and constantly work together to create a positive and productive environment in which employees can truly perform. And like any other living entity, workplace culture needs to constantly evolve.
In a workplace, the management, leadership and the strategic organisational directions inspire and shape the culture to a large extent. Employees spend over one-third of their lives in the workplace. Obviously, when employees are satisfied at work, their overall performance and productivity are enhanced. Moreover, when they are assured a good work environment, employees look forward every day to spending a great day at the workplace instead of counting days to the weekend. They exhibit the same engagement levels throughout their workday and dedication and take ownership. This unfazed enthusiasm clearly reflects in their work performance. A positive workplace culture brings with it a whole host of benefits-improved teamwork, elevated morale levels, increased productivity and efficiency, and increased employee retention. Additionally, work performance, collaboration and job satisfaction are also enhanced. Most significantly, however, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.
As a Manager or Leader, here are a few significant ways to create a positive workplace culture:
- Be a role model for positive behaviour – Be ‘respectful’ and accountable. Encourage an environment where there is no blame game, where it’s okay to make mistakes and move forward with learnings from mistakes. Team members usually mimic the behaviours of their managers or leaders, so managers need to evaluate their attitudes and behaviours and be mindful of these.
- Communicate transparently – Provide regular updates to employees which helps them to feel connected and part of the team. Provide practical feedback along the way rather than just at the performance review time.
- Create clear goals – Leaders should create goals and inform each employee how they are responsible for achieving those goals. This motivates employees who will definitely strive to give their best when they know that their job is making an actual difference.
- Listen empathetically – Be open to hearing your employee’s views, ideas and solutions without forming an opinion. This encourages employees to open up and feel seen and heard as a valued member of the team.
- Encourage team spirit & collaboration – It is a fact that teams work at their best when they leverage their strengths and are open to the ideas and perspectives of other team members who may offer a better solution or result. Managers should learn the strengths of their team members and capitalise on them.
- Demonstrate gratitude and appreciation – It could be in the form of a simple thank you note or card or even acknowledging the employee during a meeting.
- Celebrate wins – However small, find ways to celebrate successes – whether it’s recognising a milestone or accomplishing a goal. It improves morale by encouraging the team member and shows others that important milestones are noticed and recognised.
Positive workplace culture is crucial for encouraging a sense of self-respect and ownership among the employees. When employees feel valued, they take pride in their work and take on ‘responsibilities’. They don’t need to be told or instructed to do their jobs. They work hard always to be ‘reliable’ and achieve goals that will benefit the organisation. A positive management approach and effective leadership are the key elements that bring about a positive change in the attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. As leaders, it is essential to step back, evaluate and define the desired workplace culture now and for the future.