What Is Workplace Culture Really?

3rd Jul, 2020 | Trends, Data & Insights

How often have you heard the term ‘workplace culture’ floating around in your professional conversations but have no idea what it actually means? It’s not just you. The term is inconsistently defined and is largely conceptual, with just 12% of companies believing that they understand what workplace culture is about. At the very core, workplace culture is the characteristics and personalities that set the overall vibe of an organisation. Generalise what you see, how people behave and how people speak to each other and you’ve got the gist of workplace culture. Yet, there is so much more to workplace culture than just this surface definition.

So, What is Workplace Culture Really?

Workplace culture is the environment that you create for your employees. It plays a powerful role in determining their work satisfaction, relationships and progression. It is the mix of your organisation’s leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviours and attitudes that contribute to the emotional and relational environment of your workplace. These factors are generally unspoken and unwritten rules that help to form bonds between your colleagues.

What Influence Does Culture Have on the Workplace?

Workplace culture in an important factor to all workplaces. It determines how pleasant or toxic your work environment is. It has a direct influence on how your employee fits into the organisation and your organisation’s ability to attract and retain employees because it shapes the environment that they work in. From the time of initial application, through to the hiring process and finally through to the few weeks on the new job, both the hirer and new employee attempt to confirm whether they are the right cultural fit for one another. This is a lengthy process, and is often viewed as a time-consuming process and a waste of company resources. However, the outcome shows how large of an influence workplace culture has for the employer and employee.

Why is Good Workplace Culture Important?

    – It attracts and keeps talented staff. When you spend more time per week at work than at home, it’s natural to want to work in an environment you enjoy spending time in. This means that if you want the best staff for your team, you’ll have to invest in creating a strong workplace culture. In a study from the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015, ‘culture and engagement’ was the highest priority on the corporate agenda and companies with the strongest cultures were much more able to attract and keep talent.

    – It drives engagement and retention. You can successfully recruit employees but it becomes a cost to your business if they leave. A good workplace culture is proven to keep your employees engaged in their work. It’ll allow your employees to better understand what is expected of them and how they can achieve their professional goals. This will  then allow you to keep them onboard for longer.

    – It creates an environment for healthy development. A good workplace culture provides everyone with the opportunity to initiate change and to grow on a professional and personal aspect. It also promotes openness and encourages your employees to voice their opinions and chase after the values they believe in.

    – It creates satisfied employees and increases productivity. A healthy workplace culture will make your employees feel happy to come to work day-in and day-out. A happy work environment increases your employees’ concentration, thus, this leads to increases in their productivity levels.

    – It drives financial performance. 92% of leaders from from successful companies believe that workplace culture and financial performance are closely interrelated. Workplace culture directly influences the way your employees perform, which subsequently has a direct impact on your business’ financial profit.  

Creating A Healthy Workplace Culture

There is no shortcut  to creating the best culture. Each culture is unique to the individual business needs. But, to get you started,  we have five proven methods on how to improve your workplace culture, regardless of your industry.

    – Cultivate employee relationships. Strong relationships in the workplace can lead to an increase in effective communication. Capitalise on this by hosting group bonding activities such as team dinners or a drinks night so that your employees can get to know each other better.

    – Build universal traits employees seek from employers. In a Laws of Attraction study conducted by SEEK, it was identified ‘collaboration’, ‘supportiveness’ and ‘respect’ as the universal traits employees look for from their employers. You can support the development of these traits by ensuring that you are incorporating them into your day- to-day work tasks. This can include teamwork, open forum feedback and mentoring programs.

    – A comfortable workplace. No one wants to work in a toxic environment. It’ll make you feel uncomfortable, unappreciated and undervalued. So make sure your office is an inviting environment for all your employees. It may be as simple as having some some office plants, an office couch or a stocked pantry.

    – Career development training. Learning never stops. It’s important to provide your team with developmental training so that they can upskill and grow into better leaders.  This will make them feel appreciated for their contributions, which helps to enhance productivity, performance and engagement.

    – Be mindful of burnout.  Rest is an important contributor to performance. If your staff are overworked and stressed, this can be a key indicator that your culture is unhealthy. A culture that rewards hours over results can lead to an atmosphere of competitiveness, and one where employees favour long-hours over the rest and downtime they need to perform. By simply encouraging employees to leave on-time where possible, you can dramatically improve cultural outcomes. If your staff are overloaded and likely to burn out, you may want to consider bringing in temporary staff to alleviate some of this stress, and lessen fatigue related absenteeism.