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Workplace culture

EVERY company is different, much like people would have different personalities. What sets apart organizations from one another is the culture they cultivate within themselves and how they project themselves to the public. The projected image in social media should match the internal experience. Otherwise, disillusioned employees will leave the company earlier than expected and even dissuade others from joining it. Workplace culture affects the employee experience, which is influenced by how leadership treats their employees, management of the work force, enforced policies and how the different departments interact. These sum up what an organization believes and promotes.

Employees today are starting to look at work not just as a means to an end but how to put meaning into what they do and how they can find a sense of fulfillment from what they have accomplished not only for the organization but to the communities they belong to. A high turnover rate indicates an organization that has not either established a clear and identifiable workplace culture, or understood what motivates the work force they attract. Either way, the organization stands to lose in terms of recruitment and training costs, as well as lost revenue from job vacancies.

A study conducted by Deloitte on Human Capital Trends in 2019 revealed that 84 percent of respondents gave importance to employee experience, with 28 percent emphasizing its urgency. This is important if an organization is serious about not just attracting the best talent but also retaining those who contribute significantly to its success. Clearly identifying the workplace culture an organization wants to promote helps in ensuring that employees are actively engaged in its activities, and increase employee satisfaction which will, in turn, help to increase productivity and innovation.

But how do you identify the workplace culture in your organization?

A primary indicator of the workplace culture of an organization is its mission and vision statement. This indicates what a company stands for and what it promotes. An organization without such a statement is prone to go with whatever is trending. That is why organizations take great pains to clearly identify their vision and mission. These are translated for the employees through the core values. While the vision and mission statement shows the target and how to get there, the core values help people in aligning themselves to expected behavior. Hence, these core values need to be evaluated in annual performance reviews using an objective rubric, to clearly delineate expected behavior from those which disrupt the organization’s values.

The metrics used during annual performance review indicate what the organization values the most and should present clear targets for the year in review. Employees also need to understand how the set targets impact the vision and mission of the organization, and why their contribution is significant to its progress and development. Letting people see the big picture and how they contribute to the organization’s success helps them find their niche and opens their perspective to how they can contribute more when their efforts are acknowledged and rewarded. If people do not see their place in the organization or how they contribute to its success, they become automatons and just do as they are told, and they will eventually leave when presented with other opportunities.

Culture is caught and cannot be cultivated inside a classroom. Organizational leadership needs to be cultural ambassadors who promote and espouse the company’s ideology. Understanding the workplace culture means that leadership must be able to sit with the rank and file, and understand their inclinations and motivations. And when you sit with them, this means talking to them outside of work discussions. People go to the cafeteria or coffee shop to eat and relax, not to talk about work. Spending time with your people helps you foster trust, and helps you empathize with them. It helps you craft policies and plan activities, which, in turn, help promote the organization’s values because you understand what helps people become engaged and interested.

Some organizations think that putting up glass walls and using the open office layout will increase transparency and openness between the management and employees. It might have helped some but for others, their employees have found other means of putting up walls by ignoring leaders altogether, or hiding behind office policies and technicalities. The workplace culture of an organization starts from the leadership who promotes and embodies what the organization stands for. A simple test would be to ask employees if they see themselves progressing in the company to become like their current leaders. Because if they cannot, chances are they will find an organization where they can.

Organizational leadership needs to understand that culture is generated, not identified. It means actively crafting policies, planning activities and going out of your way to ensure the organization’s ethos is consistently being built upon and enhanced to become identifiable and relatable to everyone in it. Establishing a clear workplace culture enhances the employee experience, helping them become actively engaged in preserving that culture and using it to positively promote the organization to others.

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