We’re hearing the term “workplace culture” a lot these days. But, some bosses aren’t exactly sure what workplace culture means (they just know they don’t want a toxic one!) The career website Indeed defines workplace culture as “(A) collection of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment. Healthy workplace cultures align employee behaviors and company policies with the overall goals of the company, while also considering the well-being of individuals. Work culture determines how well a person fits into their environment at a new job and their ability to build professional relationships with colleagues. Your attitude, work-life balance, growth opportunities, and job satisfaction all depend on the culture of your workplace.” We think that’s a pretty good definition.
Let’s face it, not every workplace has a desirable culture. Yours may not be toxic, but is it healthy? If you answered “no” we have three tips from Leigh Anne Lankford of Women’s Business Daily to help you create a better workplace for everyone who works there.
Avoid toxicity – Knowing what you don’t want can be just as critical as knowing what you do want — and a work environment where toxic behavior (such as discrimination, harassment, and bullying) is permitted to continue falls into the former category. According to a 2019 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture,” one in five Americans left a job in the previous five years due to bad company culture. The cost of that turnover was an estimated $223 billion, attributable to factors like turnover and absenteeism. SHRM also found that employees considered managers, more than leadership or HR, to be most responsible for determining the company’s culture — and their managers often lacked the soft skills needed to effectively listen, communicate and lead.
Train your managers well. Help them develop competency in the skills needed to do their jobs well at tactical, strategic, and human levels. Effective interactions between managers and their direct reports contribute significantly to employee well-being and fulfillment.
Be proactive. Culture needs to be developed with creativity and thoughtfulness on the part of leadership. For example, Lankford developed and instituted a four-month onboarding and training program for her staff members. The program includes weekly web meetings, online tutorials, and coaching calls to help them gain a better understanding of their individual role and the values of the firm as a whole. One of those values is being of service in the communities where they live and work. A recent research report released by Atlanta-based goBeyondProfit, a philanthropic organization that helps reduce barriers for business leaders to learn from and inspire one another, shows how important it is to align corporate and individual values. Titled “Navigating Rising Expectations,” the report states that 60% of employees consider generosity when deciding whether to work for a company. Furthermore, employees want their chief executives to publicly embody a company’s corporate character in visible, accessible and transparent ways.
Listen to your team – Lankford writes, “At one point, I was doing a weekly call to communicate with our team. I thought it was great, but when I asked my team what they preferred, they said they would like a written weekly communication instead. So, I made the adjustment. Use surveys and other tools to assess how your team is feeling and what’s important to them. You’ll also want to gauge their stress levels and if they are feeling overworked — two factors that can lead to decreased productivity and increased burnout.”
At VersaTel Solutions, having a healthy workplace culture is important to us. I let my team know how much I appreciate their hard work, including by featuring an Employee of the Month on this blog. One way we can help small business owners improve their workplace’s culture is by helping develop policies and best practices. That way, your employees know and can meet your expectations. We’d love to make your company’s culture one that results in happy and engaged employees.