We can all agree on how beneficial a healthy work culture can be. From increased employee happiness, health and retention to increased productivity, revenue and great customer experience, the benefits are many and varied. However, it seems often easier said than done to reach a healthy culture in the first place. How can we get there?
First, Lets Cover the Benefits of a Good Culture
Traditionally, business was thought of as very cutthroat. It's understandable, therefore, that when we remove this aspect, we embrace collaboration. Not needing to worry about ramifications of a lone mistake or refine the way you speak to avoid anything that could be used against you opens us up to being, well, more open and collaborative. Growing a culture of openness encourages employees to form strong working relationships and support one another in achieving their tasks and goals.
Enhanced Productivity and Employee Satisfaction
When we help one another to achieve tasks, we are ultimately improving and enhancing the productivity of our colleagues. However, as well as an additional benefit of collaboration, a healthy work culture means happier employees. Happier employees are far more likely to feel the enthusiasm for their role, and thus, more likely to complete their tasks in good time, and of high quality.
Stronger Company Brand
In our current world of interconnectivity, particularly through social media, our work culture and values can be shared across hundreds of people. A strong work culture reflects an organisation well when it is shared and seen by those on social media platforms. This aspect is being accelerated in no small part by the values of new employees from the Millennial and Gen Z generations who put an emphasis on finding work with purpose and meaning. Speaking individually, I am much more inclined to purchase or make use of a company/brand whose values align with my own or appear to support a healthy culture for their employees. In a less altruistic sense, imagine how many others you can entice to become customers if your company had a strong cultural and brand image online.
How Can We Reach these Benefits?
Transparency and Strong Communication
Going back to our point on stronger company brand, barefoot shoe company Vivobarefoot put an evident amount of extensive effort into their goal of achieving a strong and healthy work culture. We can read from their 2021/22 interim report on the actions they have taken to reach this, from adopting outdoor meetings and open spaces for employees that tie into their overall company message to producing such reports to be transparent, in accordance with their goal to be so. This helps them to maintain an image of integrity and support for their employees.
This is a common theme with brands and organisations that promote themselves additionally as a lifestyle/more than just a business. We allude to this in our mentioned benefits, but companies like Vivobarefoot, according to their reports and website, are transparent about their company practices. It is this transparency and encouraging of openness that works to ensure a culture of honesty. This in turn affects the overall experience of the employees. It should be said, in a culture of open communication, it is unlikely that all comments and communication is acted on in a completely transparent environment, but the fact that emphasis on open and honest communication is promoted encourages employees to feel empowered to speak freely. If we feel as though we can speak freely, we are less likely to withdraw and take out our frustration in other ways. Arguably one of the most common ways we show this frustration is to disengage from our work, or quiet quit as some may argue.
Act Upon Communication and Values
A big difference between organisations who commit and those who act is those who act are more likely to be of high regard. Even if our actions don't conclude in the way that was expected, we still garner regard, or rather appreciation. This may be due to our emphasis, particularly in the west, on respecting those who work hard. On the other hand, organisations who commit but do not take active action to ensure those commitments are more likely to lose regard. Moreover, fostering a culture of making commitments and not following through is going to influence the overall culture of the organisation. People may adapt to this reality and simply switch off in the understanding that commitments, often employees' and customers' wants/needs, are not being met. This can create a culture of low trust and high disengagement.
It may have once been easy for organisations to hide lacking commitments, but online resources means we as a society are more aware of organisations not living up to their commitments. Customers and employees are more clued in to the difference between what appear as goals and what appears disingenuous. With the modern workforce continuing to grow its numbers of millennials and gen Z employees, of whom place high regard on company values, fulfilled and strong work cultures are more likely to attract and retain said employees.
This isn't to say that previous generations did not hold these values. Neglecting to act upon commitments is likely to frustrate anyone as expectations are raised before being let down without any result. It may be that growing up with the internet has made it more possible for the most recent generations to both research the matter and actively express their thoughts on it. Regardless, encouraging a culture that, inadvertently or otherwise, lacks in trust and encourages disengagement is precisely the opposite of what we want. Making commitments for the sake of attracting workforce will appear as very cynical. When we include the plethora of online resources that report on the successes and unfulfilled promises of workforces on various issues, any prospective workforce could be made aware of this. The drawbacks on company culture aside, it also leads to a final potential devastating blow to any company: prospective employees passing over that employer in their search for work.
It cannot be stressed quite how important a healthy work culture is, particularly in our current world. The modern workforce is placing much more of an emphasis on the values of the workplace as well their experience of it. At its core, if a positive work culture isn't encouraged, you risk encouraging your employees to disengage with their roles, your company values, and ultimately affect the longevity of your organisation. If you would like support to augment the experience of your employees through Experience Level Agreements, see our consulting options for more information. Alternatively, you can contact us for more details.
Vivobarefoot.com., n.d. Unfinished Business. [pdf] Vivobarefoot. Available at: https://www.vivobarefoot.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/Vivobarefoot_ImpactReport21_1.pdf