What is work culture?
According to Indeed, “work culture is a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in the work environment.” In simpler terms, work culture is the employees’ general actions and feelings that create a unique experience within the workplace. If you described your job as having a good work culture, positive interactions with coworkers, good relationships with managers and open communication may be why.
Building a strong and healthy work culture will look different at every organization because the values, expectations and mission of each workplace will differ. However, in my twenty plus years of experience, I’ve learned to spot a thriving work culture and one that needs a little care about a mile away.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Value alignment is more important than you’d think. When hiring a new staff member, interview questions sometimes ask the interviewee how their personal values complement the organization’s or generally why they think the values are significant.
When considering a candidate’s qualifications, value alignment may seem less relevant than technical skills. I’m here to tell you a candidate’s values aligning or complimenting the organization’s are what maintain workplace culture.
Culture is something that is shared among a group. When someone who holds beliefs or attitudes that counter that culture is introduced to the environment, they have a negative effect on the group at large. Think about the new hire who never participates in after-work activities, despite this behavior being normal for the rest of staff. How will their actions be perceived by the group? How will it impact communication, relationships and team morale?
A few things to think about.
Work-life balance feels like a buzzword nowadays but I promise you, maintaining these scales should be a top priority.
People have many responsibilities, communities and relationships in their lives. Work is only one of them, and, to be honest, shouldn’t be their primary concern. Your staff need to know you support them having a life outside of the office, so when they are working, they feel energized and rested, not burnt-out.
Let’s use our example from above. The new hire doesn’t enjoy mingling outside of the office. Yes, this goes against the organization’s work culture but this decision is also their attempt at maintaining that work-life balance. Of course, out-of-office-outings are not a mandatory part of most positions. However, you can explain to the new hire how the staff’s friendships help them perform better as a team. Simultaneously, you should encourage them to take vacations or sick days as they see fit, while avoiding disciplinary action for minor mistakes. We’re all human, after all.
That brings me to my final point.
Punishment should be the last thing on your mind if you want to build a strong and healthy work culture.
When someone makes a mistake or does something wrong, communication, correction, and restoration are what matter. Not discipline. Your staff should feel comfortable admitting a flaw or slip-up instead of being anxiety-ridden to the point they keep errors to themselves that could harm the entire team.
Because without your team, there’s no culture to be maintained.
If you’re interested in executive or staff coaching, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me to see what we can get done. You’re not in this alone!