Building a Positive Workplace Culture

Binod Shrestha

We hear a lot about an organization having a gym within its own premises, a game room, organizing a happy hour, providing free meals, free events, talent shows, etc. to promote good work culture for their staff. It all sounds nice and I would be tempted to work for such an organization. However, there is a difference between having amusing facilities and having satisfied staff. It is said that creating a positive company culture begins with fostering happy employees. Hence, happy employees promote a positive workplace culture, not vice versa. Also, it is a bit tricky to know that people can be happy by their own choice not by an external environment. This means staff can be happy only if they initiate to make the environment happy for themselves at the workplace. Therefore, creating positive and pleasant workplace culture is only up to the staff, not entirely up to the leaders.

What is positive work culture?
Let’s talk about culture. What is it? Experts define culture as an environment made of ideas, customs, and the social behavior of the people or society. The culture of one society can be different from others. Similarly, work culture is defined as a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which govern how people behave in an organization. This culture is usually established based on the organization’s core values derived from its vision, mission, and objectives. It is communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping staff perceptions, behaviors, and understanding for their comfort, wellbeing, and development.

Importance and benefit of creating a positive workplace culture
“Workplace stress” is one of the most talked-about topics among people these days. One of my friends from another organization recently was saying he is experiencing intolerable work stress these days. When I asked what is causing him so much stress, he added there is several reasons. But if he must summarize it there are two main reasons 1. “Living in a Covid-19 fear”, 2. “Organizational change”. Covid-19, fear of getting infected, worried about self and family health, financial pressure due to medical checkups to ensure the health is fine, these all are causing mental distress. In addition to that, most of us are back in the office and these days we hear news about Covid cases soaring in Europe and Asian countries, fear-o-meter sometimes goes up to the maximum. Nevertheless, every organization is rushing for the maximum profit level to recoup the losses they bear due to the lockdowns. Hence, it is obvious that a lot is happening at the workplace where things are not the same as before. Managing those changes can be a super challenging and stressful task. Even though things are not easy for anyone at this time if we have a positive belief system; a system where people help each other to achieve each other’s goals, support each other wherever possible, value each other, which helps reduce stress.

Experts believe that stress reduces enthusiasm, self-confidence and can negatively affect all relationships, health, and life expectancy of a person. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that negativity spreads faster and is very easy to pinpoint in our society. But, for now, how about if we only focus on positivity and think about the impact of positive workplace culture? What does A positive workplace culture do? It improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce along with profit. And, most importantly, a positive work environment reduces stress in employees.

One statistic in the United States shows that around 85 percent of the workforce wouldn’t even apply to or the same percentage of the existing workforce in the organization won’t continue to work for the organization with the bad culture and reputation.

Here are a few benefits of creating a positive culture at the workplace

  1. Employees can get on with their jobs, improving productivity, rather than focus on what is going wrong with the organization, and the leadership team
  2. People enjoy coming to work and are more committed to the organization, reducing the huge costs of turnover
  3. Employees are proud to work for positive organizations and share their experience with their social networks, enhancing the company brand
  4. Knowledge and experience is shared between employees which improve efficiency, productivity, and performance
  5. Employees go home happier and more satisfied, and this impacts their families and friends.
  6. A happy mood helps maintain a relationship and better well-being of self and people around you

Factors to consider building a strong company culture for attracting and retaining the talent
Some organization leaders may feel the organization culture is not so important as they have been achieving a good amount of profit with the setup, they have been putting in place for how many decades in the workplace. For them, generating a profit is the way to define the success of their business. Leaders sometimes tend to forget the most important asset of the organization in this era is their workforce. Without capable and motivated people, organizations cannot achieve the result they want. We need to understand it’s an employee-driven market. Good talents are hard to find, and all organizations are craving for the best employees. A positive company culture attracts talents, and your organization could simply take advantage of your competitors by attracting and retaining the best employees in the market. Here are a few factors that need to be considered building a strong company culture.

Build a strong organizational culture based on the company’s core values
According to one survey, 47 percent of people who search for new opportunities say positive organizational culture is a driving motivation while looking for a job. Your organization needs to understand developing a great workplace is one of your goals as an organization leader. Your staff will be happy to create one.

1. Develop a system to protect, prevent staff from toxic people at work
Create a workplace culture suitable and comfortable for everyone to work and have fun.

2. Treat your staff consistently like they are the most important assets 
Treat your employee and visitors as if they are your clients or beneficiaries. Take care of the well-being of your staff making sure they feel good about the work every single day when they are returning from work to home.

3. Build a culture of learning, constant improvement, and encourage them to speak
Make workplace playful environment with passionate people working towards a cause the whole team believes in. Set up a culture of regular one on one with the managers or mentors. Monitor their progress at work and design the improvement plan for everyone linking with the strong performance management system.
Encouraging them to speak their mind out will allow them to be creative at the workplace. Usually, the office where everyone is heard will have the people with the most creative and innovative ideas. Let them try their ideas. Supporting them to implement their ideas can be very encouraging for people.

4. Take care of the well-being of your staff
Ensure that your staff has a work-life balance. Do not allow people to work long hours unnecessarily unless it is urgent. Give importance to the staff’s mental health by providing stress management-related sessions through subject experts, supporting staff to maintain their mental and physical health with the insurance coverages. If possible, coverage should be extended for staff’s family too. Family is the biggest motivation for people to come to work. Train all supervisors and managers to practice empathetical support and to become good listeners. Take immediate action for anything that is bothering staff from working.

5. Update salary, benefit, and reward system regularly to become on par or over with your competitors
Making sure of what benefits and salary are applicable for the position in the market and knowing it before your staff is smart. If your staff tells you about his friend’s salary in the same position is higher in other company that means it is sometimes too late. You’ll never know the next step your staff does is to resign. Hence, keeping yourself abreast of the market salary and benefit trend will save you from struggling to find a new person from the market who takes a minimum of 6 months to train and become the person to handle the job. From an employer’s perspective, it is hard to be on the top of the market trend and may not be able to always pay what another organization can. So, for such a situation there is a simple solution, and it usually works. If you can’t pay more than others, at least pay the salary which is on par with your competitors or offer the incentives.

The employer should not forget that not every staff are motivated by financial benefit all the time. Most people don’t like new change in their career unless it is a significant one.

6. Hire for culture first
Skills can be learned but a bad attitude is hard to change. Hence, recruitment is a very crucial phase where people with the right attitude which is suitable for the culture of the organization are selected, they are trained about the culture of the organization and should also be marked based on whether they are respecting the culture while performing the job.

7. Ways to communicate your organization’s culture 
Happy employees are the brand ambassador of your organization. They will promote your organization’s culture in the market by sharing their experiences and recommendations through their networks. Therefore, encourage your employees to become active promoters of your organization’s brand and culture.
Using social media sites to promote your organization’s culture can promote your brand also. Hence, the right channel can be used to showcase the organization’s best practices with happy staff views counts a lot in terms of attracting talents, promoting the brand at the low costs and your organization scale, and maintaining a positive global projection and future value. A digital platform or recruiting events can be a platform to use where you can reach and attract the people you are looking for.

Organizations can develop Regular blog on culture and feature employee contributors on a weekly or monthly basis.

A positive culture in the workplace is essential for fostering a sense of pride and ownership among the employees. When people take pride, they invest their future in the organization and work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the organization. By identifying and rewarding those who are actively striving towards creating a positive work culture, and supporting others around them, an organization can encourage others to do the same. Positive attitudes and behavior in the workplace are the direct results of effective leadership and a positive management style.

Shrestha is Head of HR and Personnel Development at Hellen Keller International. He has over 15 years of experience in HR and is a certified HR analyst.

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