The Importance of Workplace Culture
Office culture, or more broadly, workplace culture, is a term you’ve probably heard before. Your organization already has its own internal culture, even if you don’t spend much time thinking about it. Each workplace has its own unique “vibe” – but that doesn’t mean that every workplace has a positive culture.
When a negative internal culture develops, it can lead to increased rates of employee turnover, reduced productivity, and a diminished reputation for your company. Fostering a positive workplace culture is important both for the work environment and for your business’ bottom line. But how do you go about it?
What is workplace culture?
To start, it’s important to understand what workplace culture actually is. The term itself can be a bit nebulous, but essentially, culture describes the beliefs, attitudes, norms, and accepted behaviours in your workplace.
Workplace culture can be seen in the ways that employees treat each other, in the ways managers treat employees, and in the values that are generally upheld in the workplace.
When evaluating your own workplace culture, there are some key questions you can ask:
- Do employees feel valued?
- Is there trust between employees and managers?
- Do people feel comfortable bringing up concerns about workplace safety or conduct?
- Do all employees feel they have a voice within the organization?
Why is workplace culture important?
It goes without saying that having a positive workplace culture contributes to a better experience for both employees and managers. When employees feel comfortable and supported at work, they’re likely to be more engaged with the team and with the work they’re doing, which in turn leads to increased productivity and lower rates of absenteeism and turnover.
Positive workplace culture makes it easier to get things done, and it can also provide better opportunities for process improvement. When employees feel comfortable speaking up about concerns, or voicing ideas, this can lead to improvements in cross-team communication and workflow.
When employees feel supported rather than controlled by management, there is less room for resentment to take root. Satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the company, and speak positively about the company when they’re not at work.
Employee turnover is an expensive issue for many businesses. While turnover is often related to salary concerns, even a generous salary won’t stop an employee from leaving a toxic, unpleasant work environment. Fair payment and a supportive culture necessarily go hand-in-hand.
How do you build and maintain positive workplace culture?
The first key step in building a positive workplace culture is to identify the issues with your current culture. If there is negativity, conflict, or communication issues in your organization, it’s important to identify the root causes. This can be done through employee surveys, and looking at key performance indicators, or even arranging 1:1 conversations with employees to discuss how they feel about the workplace.
At Fluent Motion, we’re big fans of an open-door policy and encouraging employees to come to their direct managers with any workplace concerns. As a manager, it’s crucial that you make yourself available for employees and are open to hearing different perspectives when an issue arises in the workplace. However, it’s equally important to maintain a level of distance. You need to remain an impartial observer, and so it’s critical to avoid becoming directly involved with any office gossip that may be occurring. Get the facts, but stay out of the weeds.
The idea of maintaining a level of distance applies not only to conflict resolution, but to general management style. No one likes to be micromanaged, as this signals a lack of trust in the employee’s ability to do their job. This is yet another reason that providing adequate training to all employees is essential, as it provides both you and the employee the confidence to be able to work independently.
If an employee does make a mistake, take necessary action right away. Don’t note the mistakes an employee is making and leave it until their performance review to bring them up. Listing a series of minor mistakes in a quarterly or annual review can lead to an employee feeling unjustly attacked. Additionally, providing prompt feedback when an issue arises makes it much easier for an employee to correct the issue and learn from that mistake, so that they can avoid repeating it.
Provide positive feedback whenever you have cause to. Even if it’s a small task, a quick message to an employee to let them know they did a good job can do wonders for morale. Just be careful not to overdo it and come off as insincere.
Finally, employees need to feel like their opinion matters. Giving every employee, regardless of position or seniority, the chance to have their voice heard, can help with workplace morale – it can also be very helpful for identifying weak spots in your organization’s policies and workflows.
Collecting feedback, via anonymous surveys or a similar method, gives you invaluable insight into the state of your workplace culture. Communication is key, and it needs to be a two-way street. Managers also need to make employees aware of pertinent information such as quarterly or annual revenue targets, areas of focus or deprioritization, and broader organizational goals.
A positive, open culture makes it easier for employees and managers to communicate openly about the work they’re doing, and what information they need from other employees and teams. This, in turn, helps to reduce miscommunication and costly errors.
Concerned about the direction of your organization’s culture? Looking for help resolving an internal conflict? Fluent Motion can provide training and guidance on building and maintaining a positive internal culture. Contact us today.