Why is Workplace Culture so Important?

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Workplace culture. Such a popular term. What exactly is workplace culture, though? Why is it so important? And, how can it be attained, modified, and changed?

For decades, the culture of a workplace was defined solely by its management and had little to do with the employees themselves. We tend to think of the womanizing offices of the Mad Men era or the shoulder-padded suit days of the 80s, with women working hard to make a place and name for themselves. Nowadays, it is mostly a combined effort between both management and employees, creating an atmosphere that draws people in and encourages them to not just stay, but to work hard and put forth their best efforts.

Why is this all so important? People need work, therefore, they will happily take on any job they can get, right? Not so, says David Dick, professor of philosophy at the University of Calgary. He states,

instead of the free and democratic individuals [Capitalism founder Adam] Smith envisioned, many employees end up spending their days trying to please their bosses so they can keep their jobs.”

People need to feel like they have a purpose within the walls of their company; like they have worth. If you work 40 hours a week, then you spend 24% of your week working. That’s nearly a quarter of your time! This is why organizations are placing more importance on the culture that their employees are surrounded by. It’s not always easy to change, and it takes time, but it will always be worth it. Any time companies invest their efforts into their employees, they always win.

Who is responsible for the change, though? How does a company shift their efforts and create a culture of innovation, collaboration, and longevity? The answer is simple: everyone. Even though management is involved in the main strategic initiative of the organization, the onus falls on every single employee to implement the plan. Employees don’t need to have monetary stock in the company to feel like they have the freedom to shape its future. Human capital is the most essential component of your business and if you ignore it, just assuming that they will always be there, then you will lose something extremely valuable. As Kirsten Sutton states in her Globe and Mail article,

Give employees the chance to create a culture they want to be a part of, and they will. They'll make work what they want it to be, they'll find purpose, and they'll strive to improve. They'll respond to being trusted with the company's destiny.”

So, if you are finding yourself with a higher turnover rate than you would like or there is a little too much drama in the office, it may be time to take a look at your company’s culture. Once you understand the underlying issues leading to an unproductive workplace, create a plan to change it. Build it into your strategic plan, put the effort in, be patient and watch your organization evolve before your eyes.

We would love to hear about some of the ways you have turned your company’s culture around for the better and what worked for you. Please leave your comment below!

Morgan Wilson - Office Administrator


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