building a thriving work culture

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.

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.

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