Your workplace culture can make or break you as an employer or leader. Many experts like Simon Sinek and Lewis Howes suggest that improving the culture improves employee loyalty, performance, and generates more individual, and group, growth. I unequivocally agree. In this article, I want to talk about what workplace culture is and how you can improve it.
What Is Workplace Culture?
It’s really an umbrella term that encompasses the social behavior and normalcies found in human societies. Look at it as knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the people in these groups. So your company is a “human society” and your entire team are the individuals in “these groups,” The goals are to spread knowledge, create strong beliefs, inspire through creativity, establish boundaries, provide consistency, and promote growth. How do you do that? Let’s dive right in!
How To Improve Workplace Culture
Define Your Vision
Who are you and why are you important in your field? What do you stand for? What values are most important to you? Your workforce IS a part of this vision and a reflection of it. It’s important to have the right people that reflect your vision but they too need a reflection in you. Your vision should be clear and concise and your people need to share your passions. When they express the same visions you do, they will work better and stay longer. If you don’t have a really powerful and clear vision and mission statement, make that a top priority.
Communicate With Emotion
Human beings are filled with emotion, we aren’t robots and we don’t want to be treated as such. Make it personal when you and your leadership team speak with them. Never be generic with your messaging. Get to know your employees and be transparent with them. You both should have a clear understanding of who each of you is, as a person, and why you want to work together. Show them compassion and treat them like you would treat someone you truly cared about. Encourage your leaders to do the same, they may spend more time communicating than you realize.
“Leaders spend 80% of their workdays communicating” – Quantified Communications
Work-Life balance is hard to achieve. We work 40+ hours, commute, tend to kids, complete our daily responsibilities. Outside of vacations, how can you encourage balance to your team? Work from home days? Giving them their birthdays off? Having parties in the office? I remember once I rescued a kitten with kidney issues. During the day of a big meeting, my cat needed emergency surgery and to be hospitalized for 3 days. I don’t have human children and my rescues (dogs, cats, bunnies) mean everything to me. I took the morning off to take him to the vet. One person in the meeting sent me a really compassionate text and asked to be kept updated about the cat. Another person told our entire office that cats are pointless and it was a stupid reason to miss a meeting. Do you see the difference? If it’s important to the emotional wellbeing of your employees, it’s important to you. Pierce Brosnan recovered fine and I arrive in the meeting in time to bring lunch and catch the last half.
“A newly discovered link between rising healthcare costs in the U.S. and workplace stress: Recent Harvard research found that workplace stress may account for more than 120,000 deaths annually and costs some $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending” – Harvard Business Study
Regardless of your industry, creativity can make a big difference in how your team overcomes obstacles. Keeping your people inspired produced better work and more efficiency. I’ve been to offices with fruit infused water, oxygen bars, rock climbing, stationary bikes, and arcade machines. Why? When we are active, when we are happy, when we feel like we are provided for, our brains work better. Neurologically we are running on a higher level. Science tells us that healthier people who have activities to stimulate their bodies and brains produce at the highest efficiency output. For some ideas check out 5 Brain Hacks That Will Make You Dramatically More Successful.
Your people should know when they are trusted to make decisions. It’s a better experience for your customers as well. I hated when my cable company had to transfer me (for what felt like) 400 times to help me replace my equipment. I loved it when the first person that answered the phone at Chewie authorized an immediate shipment to replace my animal medication order that was lost by FedEx. Empower your people. Give them the flexibility to do what they think is best for your customers, which is their customer. You may be surprised at the relationships they have developed with your client base. Use that as fuel to empower them.
Commit To Training
Knowledge is power. It’s important that your people are well trained and educated in order to provide the best service to the client base. It also empowers your people and gives them more value and appreciation for your company. It’s obvious to spot a company who’s employees aren’t trained. Offering continuing education helps show your people that you care and you want them to have the best experience and gain knowledge that can be used long-term, often in the real world.
Recognize and Reward
This is one people will argue with me most about. It’s pretty common for people to agree that you reward results but what’s often overlooked is the efforts to get there. Not everyone makes their goal and if they are working hard, they deserve recognition. The star employee can often make other employees who are trying just as hard feel less than and you never want this in your workplace culture. Recognize the efforts and reward the results.
What are your thoughts on workplace culture? Do you have any feedback on this list? Any proven strategies you have had success with, or stories you’d like to share? I’d love to connect on Facebook and have you share them with me.