Ishaan DassHead of Design, Noise
According to the Cambridge dictionary, culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.” Culture becomes the environment that surrounds us; it encompasses and drives our values and attitudes.
In any workplace, culture is top-down. The leadership, their approach towards work and their own beliefs (and insecurities, at times) are reflected in the atmosphere within those four walls, which in turn influences the behaviour and attitude of the rest of the team.
When you hear of Google, Facebook and Adobe, your heart jumps at the idea of working with them, doesn’t it? It’s not just the fact that they are pioneers doing innovative work; another important common denominator is great work culture – and it’s one of the pillars behind the immense success of these companies.
People spend more than a third of their lives at their workplace. They devote their blood, sweat and tears in ensuring their employers’ and hence their own growth. An environment they enjoy being a part of is an environment they’ll do their sincere best to support. Research by the Social Market Foundation says happy employees are 20% more productive.
According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, even though 94% of executives and 88% of employees agree to the fact that having a strong, positive workplace culture is important to a business’ overall success, only 12% of executives believe that their company is driving the right corporate culture. Only 19% of them believe that their companies actually have the right culture.
So how can entrepreneurs, leaders and managers ensure good workplace culture? Here are my two cents (seven, to be exact).
Life doesn’t wait for your shift to be over – it just happens. Moreover, people deserve a life outside of their work bubble. It’s okay for them to have other interests and commitments apart from their 9 to 5. Being flexible with timings and focusing on executing the task at hand well instead of counting the number of hours one spends in the building or their missed morning punch-in deadlines makes you approachable and understanding. 88% of people would consider a lower salary over a higher one if offered flexible working hours.
In 2020, I don’t need to tell you that we must keep all biases aside while hiring someone – gender, race, ethnicity, physical appearance, age, the list goes on. Don’t judge books by their covers, and let people be themselves. By giving them the platform to express themselves and be comfortable, you are increasing the probability of them producing their best work.
Clearly outline the organisation’s ethos
In today’s world, people seek validation beyond commercial success. Simply working for a big conglomerate and ensuring the lifestyle of their dreams is not the only priority for some. When an employee feels aligned to a company or brand’s mission, their commitment towards their work intensifies. When people are made to feel a part of the higher cause, they take pride in their work and make it their personal responsibility to excel. It goes without saying – that this results in tangible returns for a company.
Foster good communication
An environment with open and honest communication results in better team dynamics and stronger empathy amongst team members. A team that has your back is a team you’d break your back for. Moreover, open communication helps foster new ideas and perspectives while keeping things fresh. Be transparent with individual as well as team objectives, performance metrics, and feedback. Simultaneously, be open to feedback from your team as well. Most importantly, appreciate the good work that’s being put in. Being undervalued and underappreciated is a big reason behind people changing jobs.
Know your team members
Einstein famously said that a fish should not be judged by its ability to climb a tree. Employees are human beings with strengths and weaknesses, with varying approaches and methodologies to their work. Finding out their hidden strengths and putting them to use will motivate your team, and make allocating tasks much easier.
Show your team members that you believe in them – not just through words, but by letting them do their thing, make mistakes and fix them. Guide them, help them improve but do not micromanage every little thing they do (I have faced this myself and it just sucks the joy out of your work). By knowing that they’re allowed to err, they will do their best without any unnecessary doubt. Your trust will spark their faith and belief in their own abilities – and spur them on to deliver.
Yes, you read that right. Your irresponsibility can impact the performance of your team. Surprised? Disorganisation and last-minute unplanned tasks result in rash, hasty work often executed in overtime. Any deliverable can eventually be tweaked and improved, but the irritation and disruption this causes takes a toll on people. By planning effectively, you will provide the platform your team needs to do their best.
A positive workplace culture enhances collaboration, raises morale, reduces stress, increases efficiency, boosts workforce retention rates and attracts the best talent. Culture plays a crucial role in creating ‘a good place to work at’.
This country needs more of them.
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