As featured in Mo2vate Magazine – Issue 03 – October 2020
The power of culture is what separates progressive workplaces from those riddled with despair and makes some businesses bold instead of boring. Organisational culture is not a separate entity of a business. It is the vibe that attracts your tribe. Both the people that work in the business and the customers it attracts. All too often workplaces are viewed by employees as places to leave their brains at the door and collect on their way out. How crazy is this?
Culture in the workplace is the way things get done, especially when no one is looking. Culture is also the glue that holds people together and it is possible to choose your culture with purpose and for a purpose. Some questions that you can ask yourself to start this process are:
Is it clear why my business exists in the world?
What is our purpose?
What culture do we have?
The easiest way to get some understanding is to ask people in your business. If you get a variety of answers then you are not being clear.
So why is it important to be clear?
Having purpose and meaning gives people the energy, passion, and motivation to get out of bed in the morning. It fosters communities of like-minded employees, customers, suppliers, and others. They come together with shared ideals. As a result, inspiring work cuts through bureaucracies, silos, and egos to unleash the potential of an organisation. Understanding what your culture is and then deciding if this supports the business goals and objectives can be a starting point to making positive use of it.
Harvard Business Review states that there is a growing body of research on positive organisational psychology demonstrating not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line. There is an assumption that stress and pressure push employees to perform more, better, and faster, but there are hidden costs incurred.
Workplace stress has been linked to health problems ranging from metabolic syndrome to cardiovascular disease and mortality.
While a cut-throat environment and a culture of fear can ensure short term engagement, research suggests that the stress it creates will likely lead to disengagement over the long term. Engagement in work is associated with feeling valued, secure; disengagement is generally negatively associated with a high stress, cut-throat culture.
Disengagement is costly. In studies by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organisation, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organisations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.
If we have the possibility to create environments that are good for our health, engaging places to be, where we feel valued, secure with sustainable businesses, isn’t that an opportunity to take?