A guide to better workplace culture

culture 1Setting out to create the right workplace culture is like a quest to find the Holy Grail.

The character of your organisation can be the difference to your employees loving or hating their job, whether they choose to stick around or join your team to begin with.

A coffee machine and a ping pong table (whilst valued) are no more than a Band-Aid. Great cultures develop when you get the best out of your people.

Offer something to believe in
‘Commitment to values’ is the only consistent driver of employee engagement constant across all countries. Could you write down your company values on the spot? You – and everyone else in your organisation should be able to. Values are what lead your business and guide how your employees act. If you don’t have a belief system then you’re essentially a rudderless ship. And if you do, it’s about paying it more than lip service. Values should operate instinctively amongst your people to motivate the behaviours that form a winning culture. Australia’s ‘2nd Top Employer’, Atlassian, lives by 5 principles – and their defining one? ‘Open Company, No Bullsh*t’.

Get everyone involved
Your employees are the most obvious contributors to shaping the ‘way you do things’. Google, Zappos and Hubspot (all renowned globally as best places to work) make a point of involving their workforce in decision making. A culture your employees love can’t be determined by one person. Tap into their ‘intrapreneurship’ by encouraging everyone to have their say about change and then put the most popular ideas into place. You may uncover a source of innovation and creativity that you didn’t know existed. And as a result of teamwork and recognising those who take part, the personality of your company will become a reflection of all your people.

Revel in what’s good
There’s nothing like a negative and thankless culture to foster mediocrity. While there may be a tendency to overlook the positives during tough times; just a few moments to celebrate success can have a huge impact on both morale and future performance. Get your team together and call out your accomplishments, announce personal triumphs and welcome your new recruits. How’s this for a cool (yet simple) idea? A U.S advertising agency pops open champagne when their employees do great things; then they write the achievement on the cork and display it in a jar. If you don’t call out your victories, you are missing valuable opportunities to transform your workplace into one of fun and recognition.

Inspire role models
Your leaders are the advocates and drivers of what you want your culture to be. Without their buy in and support you may as well pack up and go home. By the same token, ‘actions speak louder than words’. Employees’ perception of the importance of culture will be directly related to the behaviour of your leadership team. Their role is to effectively communicate and demonstrate the company’s values in their management style – so the rest will follow. But while it’s important to lead by example, it’s equally important to know when to take a step back. Empower your employees to take the reins within their own role and play a further part in defining who you are.

A positive culture is the result of a clear, united vision; positive action and strong communication.

Don’t sit back and allow yours to crash and burn.


Sources: BRW 50 Best Places to Work ‘Secrets of Australia’s Top Employers’ June 2013 Edition, Employee Engagement: Maximizing Organizational Performance, Right Management

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