Good workplace culture can mean the difference between a happy and miserable working existence. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Workplaces that are fulfilling and productive have a high employee satisfaction level, while unhappiness and poor work-family relationships lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism, and on-the-job injuries." Thus, a healthy, positive workplace culture promotes employee motivation, increases the likelihood of job retention, and, most importantly, produces a healthy and happy workforce. But how do you establish a positive workplace culture? What should your company's official policies be regarding culture?
When it comes to establishing a workplace culture, listening to employees is critical. Why? Employees tell you what they really feel, not what you think they should. According to research by McKinsey & Company, "the best way to understand an issue or dilemma is to ask employees about it." Although some might think this sounds "covert" in a "good worker/bad worker" way, it is simply a fact of human nature.
Next, organizations need to take a close look at their own company values. Organizations have different values; some are more "about" being a community than others. In order to understand the "why's" behind a certain policy, or business practice, ask employees for their opinion. If your company values are based solely on profit, then changing them will most likely create a problem. However, if the majority of your organization's values are based on social justice, equity, fairness, and respect for all human beings, then these changes will have a tremendous impact on your company's productivity and employee satisfaction.
Once you have taken note of both employee opinions and internal communications about company values, you next need to focus on communication. Employees talk to each other every day, in the office, at home, and via direct mail and Internet advertising. Be sure to pay attention to employee conversation, not just in the workplace, but also in the community and among friends and family. Don't be afraid to solicit employee feedback in order to understand what human resources are thinking. A good manager listens carefully and effectively to human resources employees and can make important changes based upon what they hear.
Finally, be sure that your employee communications are not stagnant or confused. There should be regular employee communication events, and an annual employee survey should be held to get honest feedback about workplace culture. Communication is key in any organization, and the earlier you start, the more likely you are to achieve new goals. Don't wait until it's too late!
The third thing that organizations need to do to create a positive workplace culture, is to make sure that they treat people with dignity and fairness. It may seem easier said than done, but there are numerous ways that managers can ensure that their employees are treated with respect. One of the best ways to make sure that everyone is treated fairly is to have an annual appraisal session for all employees, which should involve both management and frontline employees to get candid feedback about how they are being managed. This will help managers improve their performance, and if they see a problem early on, it will give them an opportunity to remedy it.
Finally, organizations need to pay attention to their internal communications. If they are using language or actions that demean employees or project a message of inefficiency or negativity, this sends a message to the people at the other end of the telephone. Any type of negative internal communication, including gossip, can be very damaging to a company's reputation and should be avoided where possible.
Creating a workplace culture means that employees need to feel that they are valued and respected. In addition, a good manager must make it clear to their employees what their company values are and look for good performance from every employee on a daily basis. Following these steps will give any employer the tools they need to create a work environment where everyone is happily engaged and giving their best every single day.
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