human resources

Workplace Culture: What’s the Big Deal?

Whether your employees do or don't like coming to work is a direct reflection of your workplace culture.

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Do you like going to work? If your immediate answer is, “No,” that’s a direct reflection of your workplace culture. But if you can list one or more reasons of why you do like your job, you can once again chalk it up to culture.

Did you catch that? Workplace culture is the primary reason for people either liking or not liking their jobs. The exciting part is you can define what you want your culture to be and create an ambiance and policies to help shape your company culture.

What is workplace culture?

Workplace culture is derived from both the written and unwritten behavioral norms that happen within your company. This includes the aura from when you first arrive for the day, to the relationships you have with coworkers as you communicate and work on various projects, to the feeling you have when you return home again.

According to a 2019 SHRM study:

  • 1 in 4 U.S. employees dreads going to work, doesn’t feel safe voicing opinions about work-related issues, or doesn’t feel valued or respected at work.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. workers has searched for a new job due to their workplace culture.
  • 3 in 10 Americans said their workplace culture has made them irritable at home.

Whether you specify what you want your culture to be or simply let things happen naturally, culture will ultimately determine whether most employees choose to stay or leave your company. Rather than leaving such a heavily weighted decision up for chance and being part of the above statistics, now is the time to proactively improve your workplace culture.

Assess your company culture

Before you can make improvements, you need to know how employees currently perceive your company culture. To do so, ask the following questions in an anonymous survey and include space for comments:

  • How are your contributions recognized and rewarded?
  • Do you feel micromanaged?
  • Which behaviors are punished?
  • Is the current level of workplace flexibility meeting your needs?
  • Do you receive regular and timely feedback?
  • How do you effectively communicate and collaborate with coworkers?
  • Which rules and expectations are followed, enforced, or ignored?
  • How prevalent is blame and how does it show up?
  • What happens when someone makes a mistake, disappoints, or fails?
  • How is risk and uncertainty perceived?
  • Do you feel safe and supported when asking for help?
  • Do you think others feel safe and supported when asking for help?
  • Which benefits that are currently offered do you value the most?
  • What other benefits you would like to have available?
  • Do you feel a sense of belonging here?
  • Which 5 words would you use to describe the culture of your organization?
  • Do you have a strong relationship with those you work with the most?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve coworker relationships?
  • Is open communication embraced?

Evaluate the answers to determine if your company has room for improvement. Next, assess which changes can be implemented (both short-term and long-term) and establish expectations for both managers and employees. You may also want to set up goals and scorecards to improve attitudes and behaviors that align with your desired company culture.

Ready to improve your workplace culture? Ensure company policies match actions

As with anything in life, actions speak louder than words. If you create a policy but then make exceptions, the policy will be meaningless, and the underlying message will speak volumes.

For example, if your company claims that it embraces flexibility, ensure your managers are supportive of employees taking time off work. Companies that offer unlimited PTO or generous PTO plans but then guilt employees for taking time off work will quickly get a bad rap. And all the talk about your “generous PTO policy” will be discussed with sarcasm, leading to a decrease in morale and a poor company image.

To build on a culture of flexibility, managers should set the example of taking vacation and talking about the events and/or vacations they took while off work. Encourage employees to take time off and come back rejuvenated – it’s good for them and for the company!

The same is true for any other policy or initiative. Create buy-in from managers and ensure their actions match the initiative.

Be patient when making improvements to your culture

Changing your workplace culture won’t happen overnight. Some changes can be implemented right away, but others may need time and coaching. Above all, keep communication open with employees to let them know their input is valued and heard, and provide status updates of initiatives.

For more information, please contact your certified HR expert. If you’re not currently a Stratus HR client, consider outsourcing your HR, workers’ comp, risk management, benefits, and payroll to Stratus to help you gain time that can be reallocated to defining and improving your culture. Your certified HR expert will advise and guide you along the way! Request a free consultation for more information.

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