When it comes to productivity and well-being in the workplace, culture matters. It affects everything from associates’ stress levels to their engagement level to how long they’ll stay with a company. Although definitions vary, here’s how the Indeed editorial team describes work culture: a collection of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment.
As the owner of a specialized staffing company, I see how important culture fit is. Essentially, having happy consultants means getting better client outcomes — regardless of a client’s industry. That’s why my staff members consider both a consultant’s expertise and the workplace culture when determining which candidate will be the best fit for a client.
Just as my leadership team continuously checks in with our clients to make sure they are satisfied with our consultants’ work, we also frequently take the pulse of the internal working environment at our firm. Here are three ways we’ve found to create a workplace culture that keeps your associates engaged.
Avoid toxicity. Knowing what you don’t want can be just as critical as knowing what you do want — and a work environment where toxic behavior (such as discrimination, harassment, and bullying) is permitted to continue falls into the former category. According to a 2019 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture,” one in five Americans left a job in the previous five years due to bad company culture. The cost of that turnover was an estimated $223 billion, attributable to factors like turnover and absenteeism. SHRM also found that employees considered managers, more than leadership or HR, to be most responsible for determining the company’s culture — and their managers often lacked the soft skills needed to effectively listen, communicate and lead.
Train your managers well. Help them develop competency in the skills needed to do their jobs well at tactical, strategic, and human levels. Effective interactions between managers and their direct reports contribute significantly to employee well-being and fulfillment.
Be proactive. Culture needs to be developed with creativity and thoughtfulness on the part of leadership. For example, I developed and instituted a four-month onboarding and training program for our staff members, all of whom work remotely. The program includes weekly web meetings, online tutorials, and coaching calls to help them gain a better understanding of their individual role and the values of the firm as a whole. One of those values is being of service in the communities where we live and work. We encourage our associates to give back in ways that are meaningful to them individually, and we engage in community service together. A recent research report released by Atlanta-based goBeyondProfit, a philanthropic organization that helps reduce barriers for business leaders to learn from and inspire one another, shows how important it is to align corporate and individual values. Titled “Navigating Rising Expectations,” the report states that 60% of employees consider generosity when deciding whether to work for a company. Furthermore, employees want their chief executives to publicly embody a company’s corporate character in visible, accessible and transparent ways. As leaders, we need to live the values we incorporate in a company’s culture.
Listen to your team. At one point, I was doing a weekly call to communicate with our team. I thought it was great, but when I asked my team what they preferred, they said they would like a written weekly communication instead. So, I made the adjustment. Use surveys and other tools to assess how your team is feeling and what’s important to them. You’ll also want to gauge their stress levels and if they are feeling overworked — two factors that can lead to decreased productivity and increased burnout.
Workplace culture impacts the well-being of your employees and your company’s financial health. Create it with intention, keep tabs on it to ensure it’s fostering a beneficial environment, and let it continue to evolve. You’ll have happier and more engaged employees and a company that’s built to last in a changing marketplace.
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Leigh Anne Lankford is president at TrainingPros. Her expertise is in learning and development (L&D) with a background in instructional design, project management, eLearning and facilitation in the health care, software development, finance and service industries. Prior to TrainingPros, she founded an eLearning tool company and worked in various corporate training positions. Lankford received a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of West Georgia and a master’s degree in human resource development from Georgia State University. She also earned an Information Mapping® Professional™ Certification and a Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and she is an active member of the Association for Talent Development. When learning leaders have more projects than they have people, TrainingPros can provide the right L&D consultants so they can start their projects with confidence. TrainingPros is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. Visit TrainingPros for more information.