A positive and healthy work environment, where employees like to come to work and give their best each day is the backbone of any successful organisation. It leads to better productivity, ownership and accountability, and employee confidence. Elements in the organisation culture that come in the way of creating a positive and enabling environment can lead to negativity and demoralisation at the workplace which can dramatically impact the efficiency and productivity of the workforce. Thus, facilitating a positive work environment is imperative for organisations, irrespective of their life stage, be is startups, or established conglomerates.
While organisations realised the importance of fostering a healthy work environment, it eventually took the global pandemic for them to truly understand its impact. The pandemic-induced protocols saw the corporate sector suffering from drastic changes in the work environment, with many organisations embracing hybrid working models and remote working as a new norm. The pandemic curtailing physical interaction further made it hard for the workforce to truly experience the organisation culture, leading to communication gaps which, in turn, thwarted efforts of building meaningful relationships at the workplace.
Furthermore, disengagement, loss of productivity, ownership, and attrition can result from a disconnection with the organisation’s culture and values, which can cause work to become transactional and monotonous, and individuals to lose sight of the broader picture and purpose. This, in turn, can easily lead to business losses both immediate and long-term, tangible and intangible.
Industry experts, for long, have opined that employees who take pride in their work can significantly improve their efficiency, performance, and productivity. They go home satisfied and happier, enjoy coming to work, and are more committed to the company. Moreover, collaboration, management, strategic organisational directions, and leadership directly contribute to a positive work environment that reduces employee stress.
Importance of a positive work environment
Creating a positive workplace environment enriches employee motivation and engagement, increasing employee retention. That’s largely because it prioritises employees’ happiness and the organisation’s success and balances both. It also promotes a good work-life balance, a free flow of ideas, relevant policies, and blame-free management. Ensuring the right culture gets built, an organisation needs to lay emphasis on the evolving expectations of the modern-day workforce and the same getting reinforced at every touch point, which remains key to building sustainable businesses.
Candidates today evaluate organisations just as much as organisations evaluate candidates. Every candidate appearing for an interview is assessing the selection process, the experience, the policies and benefits, getting a feel of the culture by checking social media posts. Today the workforce wants to work for purpose drive inclusive organisations. According to Deloitte, ”culture and engagement” are the top corporate priorities, and businesses with strong cultures are more likely to attract and retain talent.
Retaining the most talented employees is made easier by positive workplace culture. They appreciate working in a supportive yet challenging environment where their efforts are valued. They like to be enabled and empowered. Meaningful job roles that stretch talent, make them learn and grow, give them a sense of achievement will keep them motivated. This needs to be complemented with a culture of appreciation. With achievement, they look for appreciation, not necessarily monetary reward. Appreciation can be in a team meeting, in the form of a new task being delegated with authority and empowerment, nomination to a new learning program of aspiration! It would be different strokes for different folks, but a culture where talent is given wings to fly and every flight is applauded will go a long way in building sustainable businesses.
Enhanced employee satisfaction and productivity
Organisations with a positive work environment are not only bound to attract and retain the right talent, but they can also instil motivation in their employees to stretch, take ownership even in tough times. Motivated employees will be more eager to prove their mettle in a healthy work culture, which can lead to an increased productivity. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. During the pandemic, organisations that lived their values and stuck by their employees, build psychological safety though empathy and transparent communication were able to drive business continuity and evolve their business models to meet the needs of the evolving marketplace.
Without getting into data and statistics and purely using logic, if culture and environment has a direct impact on employee retention, motivation, ownership, accountability and productivity then it is but natural to extrapolate that the organisational culture has a significant impact on its overall success. A recent study reveals that effective culture can account for a 20-30% increase in corporate performance when compared with culturally unremarkable competitors. The right organisational culture can boost employee discretionary effort by up to 30% and improve employee intent to stay by 38%, leading to overall improvement in performance.
Creating a positive workplace environment
Create clear goals and feedback process
According to a Deloitte survey, 84% of employees and 83% of executives believe having motivated and engaged workers is the most crucial aspect of a company’s success. Employees might become motivated and committed if they receive fair treatment and have clear objectives. A clear goal setting and measurement process gives employees a chance to assess their own performance. Measurable performance indicators will imply that there will be healthy competition, and an open and transparent implementation will assist in preventing negative emotions and resentment.
Creating a culture where feedback is seen as a developmental process and welcomed, where feedback helps employees be better versions of themselves each day helps create an enabling environment. Transforming feedback from being focused purely on past performance to being focused on improving future performance can be beneficial for both the employees and the organisation.
Set clear departmental goals and cross functional collaboration
Outline each team’s goals, so the members have something concrete to strive for. This will not only aid in directing individual performance, but will also promote teamwork. Ensure there is room for cross functional interdependency. For instance, cost control is not just a finance department goal but a responsibility of every business unit and team and should be a part of every leader’s goal sheet. Similarly, talent attraction and retention is not just an HR goal but a an accountability of every people manager and should be a part of their goal sheet. This will ensure collaboration towards a common goal.
Regardless of the position or hierarchy within the firm, each person should feel respected and heard. Instead of being seen as an extra pair of hands and legs, interns can offer a far more significant advantage through added research and insights. Similarly new hires bring a different viewpoint which can allow firms to attain a fresh outside perspective. Every employee should feel comfortable speaking up because you never know where the next big idea will come from.
Create a culture of appreciation
Recognising and appreciating employees for attaining exceptional accomplishments is a significant part of a winning culture, including Allowing for failure and letting people learn from it. Employees will be inspired to keep up their outstanding performance, and it will also help them feel appreciated by the company if their efforts are recognised and appreciated. Additionally, it will also boost their co-workers to perform better, generating a climate of healthy competition at work which, in turn, promotes excellence. Not fearing failure will drive innovation, trying out new ideas without fear, learning new skills and getting out of comfort zones.
Organisational culture in the virtual and Hybrid world is no longer defined by artefacts, physical symbols, events, or the look and feel of an office space. Culture is not defined by any one process or policy, or any one person or department. It is a function of many elements and how they work in tandem and everyone in the organisation is a custodian of the culture.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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