We all know that organisations recognize the benefits of having a strong culture, one which speaks to the organisations identity/personality and its ability to advance positivity and productivity in the workplace.
A big part of the organisation’s personality is captured in the organisations core values which incorporate behaviours designed to create positive relationships, trust and reliability. Having relationships based on these core values not only supports great productivity, but most importantly supports employees going through trying times. I believe that the culture of an organisation is an investment in people; as without the people the organisation is nothing. Key research into recognizing the importance of work culture carried out by Deloitte shows us that culture, engagement and employee retention are at the top of the list of challenges facing business leaders. If the organisation’s culture is negative and employees are not supported during hard times, it will affect retention and employee turnover will become excessive, disruptive and costly. Fortunately, employee retention and company culture have a kind of self-sustaining relationship. The stronger the culture is, the less likely your employees are to leave and the more your employees stick around, the stronger the culture will become.
Ultimately culture is about how employees are treated and how they treat each other. As a great example, think of Google’s simple and open-to-interpretation mission statement is “Don’t be evil.” This is stated at the corporate level, as the company strives to do as much “good” as possible, but importantly at an employee level, with individuals expected to do all the “good” they can in their respective teams and for colleagues.
A culture that focuses attention and effort into how well employees are engaged will have better support systems for their workforce. They are likely to understand the key behaviours that will encourage engagement and ensure that no matter what an employee is going through, the work environment will provide the right care, behaviours and provisions to help the employee through those hard times, whether work related or personal.
In the Culture Code written by Daniel Coyle he discusses how social connections at work not only create a feeling of belonging, but also motivates and energises employees and so improves productivity. It gives the individual the sense that someone cares for them.
Another example that he discusses comes from the way the brain works. He acknowledges that the amygdala (survival function of the brain) goes into high gear to protect the individual in negative work environments (such as when the person feels threatened) but when the culture is safe and positive the individual’s unconscious brain is automatically looking for opportunities to build further connections and greater trust. He describes the brain “lighting up” when people see people they are connected to. When those connections do not exist then the survival part of the brain will take over with a feeling of mistrust.
If you are reading this blog you may well be making an assessment of your own organisation, judging whether you as a person, or employees generally felt supported during trying times. Three things that I believe will strengthen organisational culture at all levels are:
1. Actively listening and asking questions of employees
2. Paying attention to the team’s energy level
3. Encouraging opinion, reflection, growth and acknowledge achievements
In this way we can support the creation of a strong culture, nurturing employees and retaining great talent in our organisations.