Culture in the workplace

There’s no question that over time employees’ desires and demands when it comes to work have evolved and will continue to evolve as the future of work changes. This has become more apparent over the last two years.

Every individual has a different reason for working and people work because the workplace provides something they need. The challenge for organisations is whether we can keep up and give every employee what they need from work.

Employers are presented with a wide range of approaches to what employees want but are we missing the fundamental core of what retains and engages people.

  • As an employer, when it comes to attracting and retaining staff do we truly understand what each employee wants from our organisation?
  • Do we know what truly motivates each individual when it comes to work?
  • Have we adapted to everyone to ensure they feel our loyalty?

Organisations might have generous perks, social events etc. but rather than focusing on the artificial elements we need to remember that a healthy culture is the differentiator that attracts and retains great employees as well as clients and customers.

Organisational culture is important for retention

Your organisational culture is the foundation of everything your business does and also for recruiting as indicated by a recent study by Glassdoor and reported in Business News Daily:

“when searching for a new job, 77% of respondents said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.” Additionally, culture has a significant role in retaining top talent, according to Glassdoor and Business News Daily, “65% of respondents said their company’s culture was a main reason for staying.”

As indicated by these results, for many employees it’s not all about the financial incentives and perks a business may offer. People want to work with organisations that have a defined set of values, mission, vision, beliefs and goals and are renowned for being an awesome place to work.

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” Simon Sinek

Culture and onboarding new staff

Expanding your workforce can be a challenge for most business owners but at the same time, rewarding if it works out.

For effective onboarding and management of your new employee, it’s important for businesses to include aspects of culture in their onboarding program so new starters can engage and feel like part of the team even before their first day. Creating experiences which welcome them personally to participate in delivering on your organisation’s promises will have a positive effect on their productivity and wellbeing.

A survey conducted by SHRM Foundation found, after both operational and cultural onboarding, 92% of new starters felt like productive contributors to their organisation.

Ensure your new starter understands the core values of your organisation and create experiences for them to deliver on your organisation’s promises. Highlight your culture from the space they work in, to the resources they use, through to the interactions they have with others.

From the decisions you make about your new starter’s remuneration, training, cultural leadership, career development and performance management, the choices you make reflect the attitude you bring to the table. Creating an employee-centric culture will determine the quality of talent you can attract and retain for the long term.

Build your culture with effective communication

Employee engagement will only continue to increase if your people are provided clarity, certainty and a clear direction on where the organisation is headed. Effective communication underpins a positive workplace culture. Poorly executed communication can cause employees to endure an unsatisfactory work experience, leading to a whole host of problems with morale, productivity and, in some cases, customer satisfaction.

If you want to keep your people engaged and build a positive workplace culture, consider the following questions:

  • Do your employees know and understand the business goals and vision?
  • Is their work meaningful and contributes to the business goals?
  • Are there opportunities to include them more in the future planning of the business?
  • Are leaders equipped to have regular conversations with their employees and answer questions they may have on sensitive subjects such as job security, work arrangements and are we requesting feedback from them?
  • Are we providing regular communication to employees on how the business is doing and business goals?
  • Are we giving them the space and time to do their job at their full potential despite the current situations with the pandemic and other external social or environmental factors?
  • Are we recognising employees’ efforts and providing enough development opportunities?

The resources below can also help you further with effective team communication:

  • Read our article on ‘Strategies for Effective Team Communication: Why is it important?” here.
  • Grab our Team Communication Checklist, to help you build the communication channels that work best for you and your team here.

Culture in Hybrid work models

Many workplaces have seen culture shifts due to new flexible working arrangements, in particular, hybrid work models. Some of these shifts have been positive and others, with the sudden shift to remote work in 2020, have impacted even the strongest workplace cultures.

If you are planning on making flexible working arrangements permanent, leaders will need to work on strategies to build or maintain a positive workplace culture. With the right approach, a positive culture can still thrive in a hybrid work model.

It’s important to:

  • Collect and be open to receiving feedback from your employees so you can look to improve the employee experience and why someone has chosen to still work remotely.
  • Be sure to have channels for open communication and ensuring all team members are up to date with latest business decisions.
  • Change/update policy and procedures to support a hybrid work model. This will help with consistency and fairness. Some of these changes may include establishing key hours for when everyone is in the office together, to allow for some face-to-face interaction.
  • Be proactive in making sure leaders are accessible and visible and your employees feel connected and engaged with their team as well as the company purpose.
  • Continue to provide individual learning and development for each of your employees and adjust these to suit the individual’s flexible working arrangements.
  • Provide training to Managers on how to engage and facilitate in a hybrid work model.
  • Allow for opportunities for your employees to connect socially with their team and people in other areas of the business.

Maintaining culture isn’t easy. However, putting frameworks and measures in place will keep you on track to building a positive culture now and for the future.

Promote your culture internally

Being proactive and making sure you have strategies in place to effectively promote your culture internally will support you on your path to developing a positive culture.

Here are some tips to maintain and/or build your culture:

  • Effectively communicate and be clear on your mission, vision and values especially in this changing environment and make sure your people understand how they contribute to these as individuals.
  • Provide channels for open communication, feedback and opportunities for social interactions. This also means regularly communicating any relevant news about the overall business and industry and reminders of the mission, vision and values your people are working too.
  • Make sure your people have clear goals to work towards and establish policies to effectively recognise and reward them. Creating an environment where your people feel valued and rewarding positive behaviour will go a long way to maintaining a positive workplace culture.
  • Leaders/business owners need to ‘lead by example’ by showing appreciation for others and behaviour that is consistent with the values. Leaders also need to set expectations on behaviour and how people need to respectfully treat each other.
  • Prioritise employee mental health and wellbeing and promote your programs through communication channels.
  • Valuing and promoting the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce establishes a work environment that respects and includes differences, while recognising the unique contributions all individuals can make. Create opportunities where your people can connect socially through events that are chosen by employees or other ways out of the normal work routines. Establish a culture that encourages innovation and supporting your diverse teams through understanding and acceptance.

Prioritise developing your culture

A business with a focus on culture will go a long way to attracting and retaining the best and right fit talent. It has also been said many business leaders see a link between a positive culture and profitability.

Over the last two years, an organisation’s culture has truly been tested and will probably never be the same as it was before. Over time, culture has proven to help businesses through a crisis. It’s during these times where we need to look at different ways to engage our people, strengthen organisational culture and manage the uncertainty where possible.

If you would like guidance on how you can promote a positive culture internally in your business, book a free 30-minute consultation with Catie here.