Building a Thriving Work Culture
Work culture plays a vital role in achieving the goals and objectives in any organization and is, therefore, a critical area to get right. Unfortunately, many businesses leave their culture up to chance. Because culture ties in with several key areas such as employee engagement, retention, and productivity, taking steps toward a stronger culture is worth the effort. According to Forbes, companies with a strong culture saw as much as a 400% increase in revenue growth. Moreover, according to another survey by Deloitte, a mere 12% of executives believe their organization is driving the right culture. So what initiatives are most effective in bridging the gap?
Outlined below are five essential strategies for improving and building a thriving work culture.
1. Establish Trust
Trust is not built overnight but instead develops over a period of time through our various interactions. How we respond to our day-to-day interactions can be very telling. If a meeting is scheduled and accepted, it’s important to show up. If a commitment is made to get something done, there needs to be follow-through. The more that words are aligned with actions, the more credible one becomes. In essence, trust must be earned.
A work culture that lacks trust will see a lot of finger-pointing and micromanaging. Employees will start to hold a grudge or hold information rather than sharing and collaborating. Creating an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable talking about their issues or problems they are facing goes a long way in developing a trusting culture. Inevitably, problems or issues will arise within work units. When trust is established, employees aren’t afraid, to be frank, and confront real issues in a constructive way.
2. Communicate with Transparency
It’s important for any organization to communicate frequently and to include enough details so employees understand how the content may affect them. If limited information is provided to employees, they are left to fill in the blanks themselves. Not providing enough information often leads to false assumptions and rumors that can have a damaging effect within the workgroup. Additionally, it is ideal for communicating updates before changes are implemented, which allows for employees to provide input in areas that may have been overlooked and for their voices to be heard. This proves to be even more valuable with more tenured employees as they want leaders to value their experience and knowledge.
Not only sharing what is happening but also identifying why the changes or developments must take place will lead to a more engaged work culture. Employees are more willing to accept change if they understand the motive or need and can see how it correlates to the goals and objectives of the business.
3. Develop Relationships
A large part of creating a healthy culture is helping your employees feel a sense of belonging and to feel that they are a part of something bigger. The best way to develop a stronger sense of belonging is to create simple but fun events throughout the months. Organize lunch and learns, celebrate work anniversaries or other special events, host potlucks, or arrange team events outside of work. In some cases, it may be helpful to create a culture committee to organize these types of events. An environment that fosters friendship and exclusivity amongst co-workers will build a sense of purpose and can go a lot further than a paycheck.
An atmosphere filled with comradery and companionship not only produces happier employees, but it can also increase productivity and results. Employees who have established relationships with their peers are more likely to jump in and assist or are willing to go the extra mile to get the work accomplished.
4. Be Open to Feedback
Because employees are the ones routinely doing the work, it’s only natural to gain insight from their perspective on how things are going or where improvements can be made. If you take the time to listen to what your employees are saying about their tasks and responsibilities, you can gain a tremendous amount of insight as to what’s happening at all levels of the organization. One of the fastest ways to improve overall is to take the time to actively listen to feedback from your team. Starting at the top, leaders must hone their abilities to give and receive feedback and set the example. Leaders should consistently seek and ask for feedback, whether it is up and down or sideways, and clearly show that they receive feedback well.
Organizations that make feedback a standard in their interactions often yield better results. When this practice happens routinely, it becomes the new normal. It integrates into everyday interactions, and employees continue to improve.
5. Recognize Often
As the competition for talent increases, the effectiveness of how companies value and recognize their employees becomes even more critical. This is even more critical if the organization is growing or changing. Taking the time to recognize employees can solidify their loyalty to the company and motivate them to continue to do great work.
Recognition can take many forms and does not just have to involve only monetary rewards. Equally important is that not everyone receives recognition in the same way. Look to understand how your employees like to be recognized and what they find meaningful. Also, there are plenty of ways to recognize employees without large sums of money. A simple thank you can go a long way. Writing a handwritten note or using the intranet to promote a job well done can help to instill a culture of employee recognition.
Building professional resilience and well-being starts at the top. Managers must continually be actively pursuing new opportunities for the organization, all while maintaining the agility needed to pivot at a moment’s notice. As companies are embracing and extending work-from-home policies, it is necessary to emphasize physical and mental resilience among the team.
This can come through the practice of creating new habits to help the team’s overall well-being. By encouraging employees to find methods to manage their stress, companies can play an active role in developing their team’s emotional resilience.
Below are 11 ideas to help with building resilience, gaining strength to overcome your biggest challenge at times …yourself.
- Have a purpose – or find one. What is your “Why?” Ask yourself and explore what makes you tick and find that one thing that drives you toward success.
- Practice overcoming hurdles in everyday life by challenging your thought process. The goal is to broaden your interests to allow your mind to disrupt your preconceived ideas and find new (better) ways to address difficulties. For example, try a new hobby, learn a new language, share ideas, and explore new visions. Enlist a buddy and start challenging the status quo.
- Relax already! Meditate, try breathing exercises, a weighted blanket, or a soft furry blanket, run water or play harmonizing sounds in the background, play with or take your pet for a walk, or make a nice creative hot drink.
- Train your body and mind to stay sharp and focused. The benefits of regular exercise are not only physical but also positively impact mental and emotional health by creating stress relief and improving your mood.
- Develop an abiding sense of humor. “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower. It has been proven that humor can be a potent tool to successfully cope with stress and anxiety. Watch a comedy, a stand-up from your favorite comedian, or listen to a funny podcast. Additionally, your environment can play a huge part in your mood. Change your work area to include things that make you smile, such as a picture with family or friends, or even a splash of your favorite color.
- You are not alone! We all go through difficult times. Realize that maybe a loved one needs you too. Try reaching out to a friend, coworker, or family member to boost your mood and theirs.
- Build strong support networks through online virtual meetings, classes, etc. Make it a point to build your network by asking questions during the session to be recognized and not be a figure in the background. Get out of the shadows and into the limelight!
- Ring…. not the phone, silly. Set a timer on an hourly basis to stretch and breathe for five minutes, it can help you physically feel better, and you might find it calms your inner mood as well.
- Face your fears by doing, not talking. What is FEAR anyway? “False Evidence Appearing Real” by standard definition. Fear gets you nowhere, but courage gets you everywhere. Just face it, laugh it off, and let it go.
- Nurture a strong sense of self by affirming your strengths and eliminating the damaging self-inflicting pollution in your brain. Yell “STOP” out loud until it goes away! Clear the smog so you can move on.
- Be compassionate, kind, and giving. It is incredible what a little kindness to others and yourself will do for a sense of well-being. It does not cost a thing to smile at a stranger or say hello! We need each other, and who knows, it just might make your day even more than theirs.
Culture is at the heart of every organization. Because of the many positive contributions a strong culture produces, it is worth the investment. A thriving culture keeps employees engaged and working to their full potential.
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Author: Kim Matus, HR Business Partner, HR Service, Inc.