Workplace culture has a significant impact on how much we enjoy our careers. From how you interact with your colleagues in the office to the way that progression and development are approached by the organization, culture at work is something that affects the day-to-day experience of being part of a company.
Culture is also becoming an increasingly important factor in what candidates are looking for when seeking employment. Workers from the millennial and Gen-Z demographic in particular place a lot of importance on whether their own values and aspirations align with the culture where they work. If there’s a mismatch, many are inclined to do what they can to change this and not only improve their job satisfaction but trigger positive change.
Perhaps you don’t feel a total misalignment with the culture and values of where you work, but there are elements of this that you think would benefit from a new approach. In this article, we share some of the best practices for proactively changing workplace culture, along with highlighting why culture at work is so important.
The Importance of Workplace Culture
One of the biggest reasons that workplace culture is so important is that it impacts how employees feel when they’re at work. Positive culture leads to positive energy which in turn leads to productivity and creativity, whilst a negative or dull workplace culture results in unengaged and unhappy employees.
Engaged and satisfied employees stay in their roles for longer, leading to higher retention rates that save a company money in the long term. These employees are also likely to recommend the place where they work or at least sing its praises, which helps to improve your brand image and increase recognition and awareness.
Companies with better workplace cultures tend to receive higher volumes of applications for jobs and find that their recruitment process is more successful. Having a clear set of values and policies that influence your culture also helps to attract the kind of people that will thrive in your work environment because they align with these, making recruitment more efficient.
Values and Policies
Company values and policies are an integral part of workplace culture. The things that a business stands for, supports and wants to achieve will influence how it is run and the processes used to get work done, as well as outlining a set of values that some people will identify more with than others.
You can make proactive changes to company culture by reviewing the current values and policies and thinking about whether they accurately reflect the kind of workplace that you and other people will want to work in. Are the company values bland and predictable, or are they clearly the product of your brand and contain specific references that set the business apart? Can you edit them to reflect a more unique brand image?
When it comes to policies and workplace culture, there are plenty of proactive changes you can make that can instantly make a difference. For example, does the company have an up-to-date diversity, equality and inclusion policy? Are there clear protocols to follow in cases of workplace harassment or bullying? What about sick-leave, flexible working or parental leave policies?
As we’ve already touched upon, workplace culture is something that plenty of candidates have in mind when they’re applying for new roles. An area that will really benefit from changes to the culture is recruitment, especially if you can adapt the recruitment process to highlight what makes your workplace culture so appealing.
First, review the existing process and determine the impression that the company gives off from a potential employee’s point of view. Are your benefits and ways of working clear from job adverts? Do candidates get the chance to ask questions that allow them to determine if they’re the right fit?
Consider whether workplace culture is properly illustrated to applicants during the recruitment process, and think of the ways you can improve this after your assessment. Could you add a page to the company website that explains workplace culture? Could you let applicants speak to current employees for a real explanation of what the company is like? It’s common for companies that don’t already have an adequate recruitment structure to bring in specialist recruiters or bolster their HR department to create more focus on sustainable recruitment.
Psychological safety at work refers to feeling safe to share your opinions, ideas and challenges without being fearful of what the reaction might be or who might be listening. It’s something that a surprising number of people are lacking in their roles, despite it being a major factor in job enjoyment, and can be a great way to proactively improve workplace culture.
To start addressing psychological safety at work, first consider how employees might achieve this. A greater feeling of psychological safety is often gained after successfully navigating conflict and finding a solution, or admitting that you need help and receiving it without any backlash. Therefore, you can start by looking at how conflict is navigated at your workplace, gathering information about people’s previous experiences of conflict, and examining what support systems are currently in place.
Could you organise workshops on successful conflict management that help employees feel more prepared to navigate challenges in their teams? Could you set up peer-coaching systems and highlight certain team members to go to when help is needed? Both of these can help create more rewarding workplace situations where greater psychological safety is achieved.
Learning and Professional Development
Finally, learning and professional development are an element of company culture where positive change can be made to improve the overall experience. When employees feel that they are continuously learning, growing and gaining new skills, they are more engaged at work and also more likely to stay with a company for longer.
Offering workplace learning and bespoke development programs and support is not only a fantastic way to improve the talent of your workforce, but will also impact company culture by creating an environment focused on support, improvement and growth. Employees have the option to upskill during working hours and can work with others to set goals and develop progress plans, making their roles more rewarding and indicating that the company cares about individual development and success.
On an individual level, working somewhere with a positive and rewarding culture has countless benefits in how much you enjoy your job, how energised you feel and the quality of work you produce. Making a proactive effort to change your workplace culture not only benefits your experience, but will bring these benefits to your colleagues and hopefully improve the time that everyone spends at work.