Positive Workplace Culture: Why it matters and how to do it right?

Volodymyr Bilyk
12 August 2021

Positive workplace culture is a hot conversation topic right now. For example, the news of the Activision-Blizzard discrimination lawsuit emphasized the issues and challenges of workplace culture in the IT industry. However, the foundation of the problem, toxic workplace culture, got less spotlight than the damning descriptions.

If the companies want to evolve as a business, they need a solid human foundation. Positive work culture is one of the critical tools in establishing it.

This article will explain why companies need positive workplace culture and how to do it right.

What is Positive Workplace Culture?

Employer’s brand is one of the integral components of establishing the company as a worthwhile workplace. It drives the company’s employer value proposition beyond salaries and employee benefits and creates a narrative of mutually beneficial experience. 

One of the said narrative elements is Company Culture and its ground-level manifestation – Workplace Culture

  • Company culture is an overarching vision of identifying values and attributes within the organization. For example, values of innovation, initiative, and flexibility.
  • Workplace culture is its practical part, the details that drive the work process in the trenches. For example, describing the proper way of handling communication or dealing with potential conflicts.

What makes workplace culture positive or negative?

Workplace culture revolves around the following concepts:

positive workplace culture elements

Let’s break it down:

  • Communication enables proper coordination and cooperation;
  • Management/leadership provides the direction;
  • Work-life balance mitigates burnout and exhaustion;
  • Professional development and career growth drive motivation and commitment;
  • Employee engagement facilitates productivity.

The way a company handles the concepts mentioned above defines the nature of the workplace culture. That’s what makes positive workplace culture.

Because of that, it is critical to keep things under control. Information is the key. The HR department can gather feedback once in a while regarding the aforementioned aspects of the company.  On the other hand, it is important to nail down the conceptual side of things so that any emerging problem wouldn’t be coming from the very foundation of the company’s culture.

Negative Workplace Culture Examples

Let’s look at communication:

  • The communication is broken down into multiple channels – Slack, Signal, etc. Its goals are unclear, and it is a mess of conversation strands. 
  • In an environment like this – communication gaps are bound to occur.
  • Communication gaps lead to mounting miscommunication. As a result, you get misinterpreted tasks, misread comments, missed deadlines, and evergrowing frustration
  • Frustration leads to toxicity which leads to employees burning out and looking for another job.

Work-life balance is essential in maintaining employee’s productivity and motivation. However, it takes more than words to get it right. 

  • It is a common occurrence when company culture sets an overachieving mindset within the team. As a result, employees often push themselves to get better results. It is stressful. Over time it leads to exhaustion and a negative impact on physical and mental health.
  • Eventually, an employee goes down due to burnout. So, aside from losing a team member, the company also experiences productive and monetary losses.

Hypercompetition is one of the biggest HR challenges in the IT sector. It is always there in one way – the trick is to keep it at bay. 

  • The company values “committing to the cause and delivering the goods.” Expectation to overdeliver is a source of stress. 
  • The problem is in the ways tasks are set and communication of expected results. If it lacks a distinct cause and effect structure – it leads to overthinking.

At the same time, there is the opposite – lack of engagement.  

  • The company attempts to create a comfortable working environment by keeping the workload at a seemingly reasonable level.
  • Employees are systematically unchallenged by their responsibilities.
  • That leads to a slippery slope of waning commitment, lessening motivation, and decreasing productivity. Eventually, professional skills degrade, loyalty flutters, and they start looking for a more challenging workplace.

Positive Workplace Culture Example

Employee recognition is one of the driving forces behind their motivation productivity. 

  • When the efforts get the credit due – it perpetuates employee’s motivation and deepens the commitment to the cause. 
  • For example, if an employee outperforms KPI, it might be good to recognize it with a performance bonus. Or, if it happens consistently, that’s an argument for a salary raise.

Onboarding is critical for establishing a new hire in the company and setting positive workplace culture from the get-go. In a way, fine-tuned onboarding provides a smooth landing for a rookie. We’ve got an entire case study about it right here.

  • The onboarding process’s right pace lets rookies gradually digest incoming information while avoiding overload and stressful misinterpretation. It also takes off a significant portion of pressure from the newbie as there is no hurry to jump into the fire.
  • At the same time, the priorities of onboarding stages provide thorough and yet consistent immersion into all aspects of the company’s inner workings – from general things like mission, vision, and values to more specific frameworks and workflows of the assigned department. 
  • As a result, there is total sync between the company and the new employee, which leads to more substantial commitment and eventually develops loyalty for the company.

Professional development is critical for keeping the collective away from getting stale and dissipating. 

  • Just like the business can’t grow if it is not evolving and adjusting itself, employees need to move forward to succeed.
  • In this case, a personal development plan and employee roadmap are the most effective methods of keeping things moving. This approach clarifies what needs to be done to get to “another level.”
  • At the same time, junior and middle specialists can benefit from upskilling programs that gradually expand their skill set and value the company.

In Conclusion

As you can see, establishing a positive workplace is critical in moving the company forward, keeping it strong, and creating mutually beneficial relationships with employees. 

In our next article of the series, we will break down how to develop positive workplace culture.

If you need consulting regarding workplace culture or other HR-related topics – our HR consultants can help you out.

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