What is Workplace Culture?

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Your workplace culture clearly defines your organisation as an employer of choice, or one to avoid at all costs.

workplace culture

“A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share … A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.”

Dr. Pragya Agarwal, Forbes 2018

The workplace (virtual, hybrid or physical) is not an experience to be endured. We know that people are at their most creative, productive and loyal when their work environment is positive, safe and healthy. This can only happen when the workplace culture is fit for purpose.

What is your workplace culture?

Every workplace culture is unique. It may be clearly defined as Dr Agarwal describes above, or it may be more casual, based on a sense of belonging, antipathy or even misery.

Defining your workplace culture helps leaders and their reports to consciously appreciate the shared values, beliefs and attitudes that are prevalent in the organisation. This enables them to celebrate what is working well and focus on the negative aspects which stifle growth. It may be an uncomfortable process, but learning what your culture means to the people who experience it gives the opportunity to create an environment where people can be the best versions of themselves.

Be honest. If you are serious about creating a positive workplace culture, acknowledge every aspect. Avoid paying lip service to the project, it will only antagonise those who you most need to win over.

Leaders shape workplace culture

It will come as no surprise that leadership has great influence over workplace culture. From shift supervisor to chair of the board, leaders at every level have the power to define their organisation’s culture. If they are authentic, honest and communicate well, they set the standard for the whole organisation to follow.

An important question to ask is whether your leaders are capable of delivering on workplace culture? Will they need support and development to lead by example? Leaders often achieve their positions through success in less senior roles, or by ‘talking a good talk’ at interview. While previous success and confidence are important for leadership, managing people and delivering strategy are challenging tasks, often at odds with each other. How well your leaders do this correlates with the condition of your workplace culture.

Strong teams fuel positive workplace culture

Along with effective leadership, team relationships form the basis of workplace culture. Strong teams consist of a complementary mix of people with the traits and skills needed to meet organisational objectives. They are not a group of ‘mini-me’ replicas of the organisation’s leaders or facsimiles of each other. It’s their valuable nuances which spark creativity and bring wider viewpoints into play.

A workplace with good team culture is one that people want to be part of. They work well together to achieve their objectives, which of course their leaders should clearly define.

Effective team culture enables its members to raise morale when it is most needed. This drives the engagement required to maintain and elevate productivity. Strong team relationships also help to prevent stress, burnout and ‘quiet quitting’ through established lines of communication and collaboration. People know when to offer and ask for help, safe in the knowledge that they will not be adversely impacted for doing so.

Positive workplace culture makes your organisation a destination employer

To repeat Dr Agarwal, workplace culture ‘enhances retention of the workforce’. Frankly it’s a no-brainer. Make your workplace a great environment to be in, and people will stay.

Of course you want the right people to stay, and this is where getting your recruitment and promotion decisions right is key. It’s another reason to define your culture. Understand the values, beliefs and attitudes in order to recruit and promote in step with them. If you don’t you will alienate your people and they will eventually leave/disengage.

An investment in your people-infrastructure

Developing a strong workplace culture is an investment in the future of your organisation. Just as you might invest in physical or cloud infrastructure, it’s vital to invest in your people-infrastructure. In challenging economic times, organisations cannot afford to lose vital resources or limp through avoidable periods of talent shortage. Look after your people, optimise their workplace culture and reap the rewards with their loyalty and productivity.

Talk to us about how Holst helps organisations to create workplace cultures that are fit for the future.

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