No employee wants to work in a toxic workplace. Negativity in the workplace is detrimental to the productivity and mental stress of the workforce. So are those the only benefits from setting a positive work culture? What are the things that you should look at before making any change in your existing workplace culture?
Negativity and toxic behaviours can spread easily in a workplace, and when it does, it drives away model employees and causes irrefutable damage to the employer brand. On the other hand, positive company culture is associated with reduced employee turnover, a boost in productivity, and higher employee engagement. This makes it a real win-win situation for both the employer and the employees.
Here’s everything you need to know about setting a positive workplace culture. In this article, we will explain the following:
- What is workplace culture?
- Why is it important?
- Factors affecting work culture
- Characteristics of a positive work culture
- How to create a positive workplace culture?
- The rise of toxic work culture
What is workplace culture?
Let us start by defining what culture is. A culture of any environment encompasses a set of attitudes and behaviours that are driven by the tolerance and beliefs of the individuals present in the group. Similarly, the workplace culture of an organisation is collectively moulded based on the beliefs and attitudes of the employees, core values set by the organisation, and culture initiatives.
Every company has its own unique workplace culture that percolates to every part of its operation and is reflected in their basic everyday tasks such as customer service, employee engagement, and the type of talent that is attracted to the company.
Why is it important?
Allowing toxic behaviours to fester within an organisation will undermine the objectives set by the organisation. Setting a positive workplace is important because of the following reasons:
- Employee engagement and satisfaction: Unsatisfied employees are costly for organisations. Research has shown that businesses with disengaged employees had a higher percentage of absenteeism, errors, and lower productivity. A strong work culture helps inspire employees.
- Attracting candidates: Research shows that businesses with a strong workplace culture enjoyed a larger candidate pool for open positions.
- Employee performance: Businesses with a positive workplace culture outperform financially when compared to their competitors.
- Employee loyalty: A decrease in employee loyalty is costly for an organisation. Research shows that work-related stresses from a negative workplace culture lead to more than 50% voluntary resignations.
Factors affecting work culture
In theory, setting up a strong workplace culture may seem a child’s play. But as businesses expand and different individuals are brought into the organisation, it can become quite tricky for employers to create and sustain a positive workplace culture. A multitude of factors are involved in moulding the workplace culture of an organisation, which includes the following:
Management and Leadership
Organisational hierarchy and members at the leadership level heavily influence the workplace culture of an organisation. Employee empowerment, support, and guidance from leaders moulds employee behaviours and attitudes.
Mission, Vision, and Values
Organisational mission, vision, and value statements are important and heavily influence the day-to-day tasks of an organisation. The clarity of these value statements reflect the beliefs of the organisation and can inspire employees to practice and abide by them. 68% of HR leaders believe in including the mission and value statements during employee onboarding.
Human Resources practices such as diversity recruitment, compensation and benefits, onboarding, employee recognition awards, and work/life balance can determine the type of individuals in the workplace. Introducing such practices also increases employee engagement and satisfaction.
Recruiting people with diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences, and belief systems can help organisations produce a workplace culture that is tolerant, supportive, and collaborative. More than 49% of HR leaders believe in hiring for culture fit for a strong organisational culture.
Effective communication in the workplace is an indicator of a high-performance culture. The frequency of interactions and freedom with which leaders and employees communicate can dictate the strength of an organisation’s workplace culture.
Characteristics of a positive work culture
Setting up a positive work culture in an organisation takes planning and is managed by the organisation’s HR teams and leadership. The characteristics of positive work culture can include the following:
High employee morale and satisfaction can be linked to a positive workplace culture that can be measured through employee pulse surveys.
Toxic workplace behaviours and attitudes such as harassment, discrimination, bullying, and violence are not tolerated or encouraged in the organisation. Workplace policies and stringent actions reflect this.
Employees are regularly recognised and appreciated for their efforts.
There is frequent and effective communication between all the hierarchical levels of the organisation. This helps employees to voice their opinions and creates transparency in the organisation.
There is regular employee feedback set up for employees to grade their activities and goals. Establishing a feedback system helps employees to build their confidence and produce error-free work.
Employee goals are purpose-driven and are aligned with the organisation’s goals. Some startups achieve this by providing stock options for their employees.
The actions of the organisation are reflective of the vision and value statements.
Employees are provided with the tools and the skill training required for them to succeed. Employee development programs are frequently conducted to up-skill them for the future market.
Candidates with diverse backgrounds and beliefs are critical for creating a positive work culture.
Real teamwork and opportunities for employees to showcase their leadership skills are encouraged.
Favoritism is not encouraged in the workplace and employees are all treated equally.
How to create a positive workplace culture?
To create a strong workplace culture in your organisation, you must outline the core values that serve as the foundation for every activity that happens in your company. Spend time as much as required so that the employee goal is aligned with the work culture and long-term goals.
Outline departmental goals
Setting clear objectives for each department and team will help employees to produce tangible results and meet their KPIs. This also encourages a collaborative environment for teams to work efficiently. 63% of HR leaders believe that establishing a clear vision and goals should be the top priority for the management when creating a positive workplace culture.
Creating transparency in the organisation helps individuals feel valued and trusted. Transparency in the workplace helps improve communication and collaboration, which is critical to the process of creating a positive work culture.
Promote diversity and inclusivity
Inclusive work cultures are more tolerant and supportive of individuals from all backgrounds. It is advised that HR leaders make diversity a part of their talent acquisition strategy and ensure Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) continue to be foundational elements as the business expands.
Provide learning opportunities
Investing in the employees by upskilling them with skill training programs help in building a positive work experience. Allowing individuals to pursue their passions, work-related or otherwise, improved employee relationships and camaraderie.
In an anonymous survey, 33% of employees said that a lack of honest communication between individuals is detrimental to employee morale. Effective and positive communication in the workplace creates accountability and builds a positive company culture.
Conduct regular one-on-ones
Establish a routine for your managers to conduct regular one-on-one meetings with their team members to understand their goals and aspirations. If your managers have set aside time to meet with a team member individually, they should try their best not to reschedule that meeting.
Create a zero-tolerance policy
It is important for employees to know that their rights are protected within the organisation. This also includes creating an environment where individuals have the opportunity to voice their issues or opinions, as themselves or anonymously. Establishing an anonymous hotline for employees to report workplace-related harassment and other issues, helps them to privately deal with workplace issues.
Establish an employee recognition program
Recognising employees for their achievements encourages them to perform better and also motivates their team members to step up their game. Rewarding employees fosters a culture of friendly workplace competition that leads to an increase in productivity and creativity.
Establish an employee feedback system
Creating a continuous cycle of accepting, utilizing, and implementing changes based on an employee’s feedback can do wonders for your organisation. Feedback, positive or negative, helps uncover toxic and unhealthy workplace habits and enables individuals to be more productive.
Plan social events
Humans are social animals that seek interactions with others. Planning social events can help improve your workplace environment. Social events and outings help employees build and maintain healthy relationships and friendships with their peers, which fosters a positive culture in the workplace.
Invest in tools to make work easier
Try investing in tools to make work easier for employees, which in turn increases their productivity. This can either be a CRM or collaborative software such as Slack.
The rise of toxic work culture
When negativity, jealousy, and toxic habits seep into an organisation, it creates a toxic workplace that harms employees and the organisation. This causes conflict and tension. As it is aptly said, individuals don’t leave jobs, but toxic work cultures.
Below listed are some of the signs of toxic work culture:
- A higher percentage of absenteeism and high employee turnover.
- Low morale of employees.
- Higher counts of workplace harassment and bullying behaviour.
- Micromanagement of work.
- Little to no freedom of communication.
- Employee opinions are not valued.
- Office politics.
For an organisation to be successful, it is important that employees feel valued and trusted. Positive workplace culture is essential for developing engagement and accountability amongst employees.
The main benefits of a positive workplace culture include:
- Better employee engagement.
- Higher productivity
- Decreased employee turnover.
- Increased employee satisfaction and loyalty.
- A positive company image.
The above mentioned points are some of the advantages of establishing a strong workplace culture in an organisation. Effective leadership decisions in tandem with positive management can instill positive behaviours in the workplace.
About the Author
Keerthi Rangan is a Freelance Content Writer and a Content Marketer. She primarily works towards content creation for SaaS businesses to build authority and attention.