Defining what a healthy workplace culture entails may seem like a straightforward task, but the truth is, workplace culture is complex; a rich tapestry woven from various aspects of a company’s operations. It encompasses policies, procedures, workforce diversity, inclusivity, and much more.
These elements manifest differently in each organisation, contributing to the uniqueness of its culture. That is why no two organisational cultures are ever exactly the same.
Renowned entrepreneur Richard Branson once said,
“Create the kind of workplace and company culture that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play.”
Creating a healthy workplace culture
While the company’s leadership generally establishes the culture, it is the interpretation, embodiment, and projection of that culture by the whole team that truly sustains it – for better or for worse! The foundation of a healthy workplace culture is actually laid during the recruitment process.
Think of a business as a band, an orchestra or even a choir. The musicians and the way they play their instruments or use their voices collectively, contribute to the resulting music. Regardless of the musical genre, there are striking parallels between how organisational culture works and the performance of music.
For example, if a business leaders’ role is akin to the role of a conductor or a record producer, guiding the performers to bring the composer’s vision to life, their behaviour, actions, ability to show care and inspire the whole group, directly impacts the quality of the “music” produced.
This notion is beautifully expressed in Itay Talgam’s TED Talk, where he showcases the different styles of some of the greatest orchestral conductors in the classical music world. The conductors effectively communicate their intentions to their orchestras, leading while fostering collaboration, to achieve a harmonious performance. Remember – a conductor may not be as talented at the violin as the best violinist, but their role is to help the whole violin section be exactly what the musical performance needs. Creating a healthy workplace culture follows a similar principle.
Ensuring that your leadership team’s values are aligned is crucial if everyone is to row in the same direction. Without this alignment, board meetings may generate agreement on culture-changing initiatives, only for individuals to revert to their old ways within their respective teams. Aligning the top team, often a lengthy and challenging process, is essential for any cultural transformation to take hold.
What characterises a “healthy” workplace culture?
As a leader, it is essential to be in tune with how employees feel within the business. A healthy workplace culture encourages employees to voice their grievances without fear of humiliation or negative consequences.
Empowering employees by giving them a sense of ownership fosters loyalty and dedication. When employees believe they play a significant role in helping their organisation deliver its core purpose, they become more engaged and invested.
Leaders in a healthy workplace culture also recognise and reward proactivity, positivity, and the need for work-life balance. Behaviour breeds behaviour.
Allowing time for team bonding is crucial in promoting a cohesive and high-performing team. After all, those who play together tend to stay together. This is especially true at executive/board level.
If the leaders demonstrate commitment to these values, sure enough, they will become part of the organisational culture.
Tackling toxicity in the workplace
Conversely, toxicity in the workplace arises largely from poor leadership. Lack of awareness regarding dysfunctional personality dynamics, excessive pressure to meet unrealistic targets or permitting individuals with negative attitudes to spread toxicity are some key factors that contribute to an unhealthy culture.
Once a workplace culture begins to decline, it can be challenging, but not impossible, to address.
In our experience, these problems need to be confronted head-on. When previously effective team members become discontented or contemplate leaving, it is crucial to identify the root causes and strive to rectify the issues. A good leader will work diligently to stabilise their once-happy workforce.
A healthy workplace culture makes good business sense
In addition to its internal impact, a company’s culture holds significant implications for its customers and its reputation. Investing in a healthy workplace culture makes excellent business sense and often leads to more effective attraction and retention of talent.
Participating in industry specific awards, particularly those with an Employee Wellbeing category, can send a positive message about the benefits of working within your organisation, but it is important to remember this PR opportunity is just an output.
The input is the genuine hard work put into fostering a healthy workplace culture in the real world. That said, the process of writing an award entry often prompts a focus on the employee experience, which can highlight areas for improvement in workplace culture.
The Global Culture Report 2023 by OC Tanner offers some interesting insight into how employees worldwide perceive workplace culture. This comprehensive report collected and analysed survey data from 36,441 workers in companies with 500+ employees. It made 4 key conclusions.
1. Leaders need support to develop healthy workplace cultures.
2. Work is evolving (even faster) – and will always continue to do so. Figure out how to embrace that.
3. The importance of belonging, acceptance and inclusion MUST be a priority as employees all want to belong in their workplace communities.
4. Never underestimate appreciation.
So, are you ready to take the necessary steps to improve your company’s culture? Are you prepared to reap the rewards that collaboration and harmony bring to the bottom line? Are you ready to transform a group of individuals into a harmonious chorus?
Remember, cultivating a healthy workplace culture isn’t easy, but the efforts are definitely worth it. By prioritising culture, you can create an environment where employees thrive, contribute their best, and propel your organisation to succeed.
At Contigo, we specialise in providing bespoke cultural development solutions that include experiential learning programmes. These enhance engagement and improve performance.
We believe in working in true partnership with our clients to build a leadership team that conducts their business masterpiece. It’s what Contigo means in Spanish – ‘with you’.
Why not book a FREE discovery call with us to explore your transformative journey.