“Corporate Culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur” – David Cummings
Work Culture is indeed something that has a profound bearing on the organization’s personality. An employer’s way of creating an inclusive, safe, and encouraging workplace determines the culture. Corporates today go beyond just measuring productivity, as they work towards developing skills, nurturing talent and encouraging peer-to-peer interactions – both formal and informal, towards creation of avenues for collaboration.
Why has Work Culture become so important for companies?
In simple terms, to enhance efficiencies while ensuring satisfied employee base and a good brand image, especially for customers about service offerings, and for candidates about the work culture. To understand the previous statement, let’s discuss an example of two organizations:
Company A recognizes employees towards their contribution to business, and rewards them accordingly. An employee can directly communicate with senior management without apprehension of reprimand or other indirect consequences. Employees are provided with development opportunities on skills and behaviors.
Company B recognizes contributions, however, chooses to push the employee further by adding workload that brings in no cognizable reward, rather, aggravating the situation, like belittling professionals through wrong comparisons/ unfair benefits/ inducing unhealthy competition to name a few. Management may either not be aware of ground level realities, or believe that issues reported are too trivial. Difference in opinion or business suggestion is not encouraged, sheer resistance to change perspective could be the reason. Employees are expected to perform and remain up to date without genuine support from the company.
As per the examples, company A is welcoming, encouraging and motivating the employees, while company B focused more on challenging employees towards negative motivation. While the concepts seem basic, and almost over half a century old, there are organizations still functioning on the lines of Company B, while few have adopted systems similar to company A. It is a matter of introspection whether such good systems/ practices are limited to policy documents, or, there is work happening on ground! Our research says that there is still much work needed in the space of culture enhancement at workspace, and multiple good thoughts remain theoretical yet.
The better the work culture, the greater the retention, better mental health for employees, happier families, lesser burnouts and substantial growth for businesses.
How can Organizations create a Positive Work Culture?
Our experience as well as some level of research suggests 4 principles around which businesses could build their work culture:
1. Chain of communication: Direct and transparent communication, a key to success and building trust. From leadership to management to employees, any kind of communication needs to be simple, well understood and 100% transparent.
Encouraging communication in both directions helps in senior management being more approachable and open to the idea of a diversified thought process. An employee’s confidence naturally gets boosted.
2. Incentivizing work recognition: Research says that employees resort to quiet quitting when their efforts towards business enhancement are neither acknowledged nor appreciated or rewarded. This leads to lowered motivation. With over 44% employees leaving organizations annually due to lack of recognition and incentives, it is essential that businesses broaden their spectrum of motivation – begin with a public acknowledgement/ appreciation and an additional reward where the contrition warrants one.
Most companies have an incentive structure, Rewards and Recognition programs, to appreciate individuals & teams, promote healthy competition, growth, and motivation to enhance individual effectiveness and a positive work culture.
3. Employee engagement: A thriving workplace, characterized by employees who are emotionally committed to the organization can only be achieved with a well thought-out employee engagement program. It involves fostering a sense of purpose, involvement, and enthusiasm towards camaraderie & taking pride in the association. Few avenues that promote engagement include informal forums run by employees, including interest groups like ideation for business/ cultural/ sports/ common agendas like care givers’ forum, pet parents forum etc. Thus, the organization is seen as the entity which recognizes not just the employee’s work related talent, but acknowledges the holistic person that one is. Inclusivity plays a major role, beyond what diversity alone could do. All this, while keeping business interests prioritized at all times.
4. Employee Development: The current work force is highly oriented towards one’s career aspirations and learning, much more than previous generations could even think of. Not learning something new/ career stagnation has potential to cast a shadow of uncertainty, affecting the individual’s morale – this does have an indirect bearing on the overall energy levels on the floor, apart from growth of the organization. Lack of upskilling avenues & growth opportunities makes it challenging for businesses to get innovative, resulting in monochromatic ideations and uninspired employees.
It is of utmost importance for companies to recognize the above, by keeping employees in a learning curve throughout their career, not only will they grow as individuals, but it would also aid the organization in expanding its horizons on possible opportunities of new lines of business/ new geographies/ sheer revenue.
As we enter the modern corporate era, almost all companies now have a Learning and Development Department that promotes knowledge as a medium of Career-growth, wealth and success.
Working in a corporate becomes a celebration, when one enjoys playing a meaningful role; sees one’s ideas taking shape towards organization’s growth, has happily productive colleagues around, culture exudes positive vibes, things are black and white as far as possible, there are reasons to commemorate business success, one is overtly recognized for genuine contributions, career trajectory is on the up-trend, and family is proud of the association.
More practical ideas on enhancing a positive work culture are welcome! Share your thoughts with us in the comments and follow us on LinkedIn for more.