Workplace culture is top of the list when it comes to areas that executives should put their attention on to improve productivity, employee morale, and ultimately, the success of the company itself. Nothing determines business prosperity or failure more than workplace culture because it has far-reaching effects on employee well-being.
According to Gallup and CDC, low employee well-being is leading to poor physical and mental health that erodes profits through lower employee engagement, higher turnover, poorer customer service, and higher healthcare costs.
Returns On Wellbeing Institute has released some very telling research, showing that employers are creating workplace cultures that are in opposition to employee well-being in the following areas:
- Low pay (leading cause of stress and low engagement)
- Understaffing (reduces morale and increases stress)
- Bad managers (cause of stress, depression, and low self-esteem)
- Lack of leadership (executives ignoring employee well-being)
When you take a step back and look at the big picture over the long term, it's easy to see that overworking and underpaying your employees, especially while offering poor communication with executives, you're bound to burn out and ultimately kill employee morale and engagement.
Many businesses have invested in wellness programs to assist in staff wellness, but these programs aren't very effective in the face of bad workplace culture. Culture > Programs.
Culture consists of unwritten rules, the real core values of a company. In other words, workplace culture is the unspoken, and yet understood idea of “How things are done around here.”
Culture is very much a "lead by example" thing. Leadership styles, procedures, and perceptions of what’s valued, rewarded, and punished all contribute to the sum of its parts.
On the other end of the spectrum, positive workplace culture creates an environment where you have higher employee participation, supportive peers, engaged and motivated managers, better customer support, and better business on the whole.
To reach for a more ideal company culture, it is important for management to understand where they fall short. Communicate: conduct surveys, focus groups, and in-depth conversations so you can hear, first hand, from employees what they need and want, and where they feel they aren't being taken care of.
This way the culture and well-being programs of a company can be designed from the inside out, with meaningful contribution and a sense of ownership by the employees who benefit from the culture in the end.
Management is equally important when looking for things to evaluate as contributors to company culture. It might be said that an employee doesn't leave a bad job, they leave a bad manager. Conversely, it could be said that a good manager can uplift and motivate an employee to raise their game and make a career out of a job.
A manager's job security should include the evaluation of their treatment of employees and their contribution to employee well-being. Building a positive, diverse and inclusive community is essential to an organization's success.
Community is inevitable in a work setting. We make strong friendships when working closely with others who are aligned in goals and purposes. You become a team, but you also become friends. This can become the glue that holds businesses together and reduces turnover. Workplace socialization is the foundation of strong peer support which results in happier employees.
As such, giving workers time to congregate and socialize during work hours - in lunch or break rooms, or a central area for physical activity - and encouraging extracurricular activities - clubs, teams, games, etc. can only help and will support a positive work culture.
Culture is not purely a Human Resources duty. It requires a top-down look, and a bottom-up improvement and involvement. It takes constant attention, care, and sensitive monitoring from C-suite as a priority to improve and preserve a company's most significant asset: the well-being of its employees.