The term “workplace culture” can evoke images of hip tech campuses or employee extras such as daily catered lunches. Establishing a happy and productive office environment, though, is less about the frills and perks and more about focusing on values, accountability and communication that can help you achieve business outcomes.
“It’s about helping people feel connected to their work, their workplace, each other and the purpose of the organization,” says organizational consultant Lisa Gruenloh, founder and president of Naplesbased Purpose Journey.
Creating a positive workplace culture doesn’t have to be daunting. These do’s and don’ts can help.
DO: Determine core values
“Identify values that support both a high-performing and high-functioning workplace culture, drive success and help people feel good about their work and their organization,” Gruenloh says. Examples of core values in an organization are: trust, collaboration, continuous improvement, passion and fun. They need to be a genuine reflection of the organization and how it operates, she says.
DO: Set the example
Before managers can hold employees accountable, they must model the core values. Your employees will know that you are serious about upholding the core values. Your team will know they can come to you with any workplace concerns and be heard, she says.
DO: Foster communication
Open and frequent communication can maintain a healthy workplace culture. “Many of my clients at the employee level have complained about not getting feedback, coaching or support,” Gruenloh says. She recommends recognizing contributions often and in a specific manner, such as giving people details about how their work had a positive impact on a project. It’s also beneficial to recognize employees not only for performance, but for upholding the core values for your organization.
DON’T: Ignore Millennials
Millennials have expectations for the workplace that many workers from older generations equate with needing to be coddled, but Gruenloh says that’s an unfair assessment. “It’s not about making accommodations because they’re different,” she says. “Millennials are requiring managers to be more engaged, more emotionally intelligent and more open to change—all things that are good for business.” The younger generation provides leadership with a valuable opportunity to consider the existing culture from a new perspective.
DON’T: Avoid conflict
While ignoring some behaviors may seem like the path of least resistance, allowing an employee to disregard organizational values can lead to a toxic workplace environment, even if their technical performance is strong. It’s essential to hold employees accountable. Behaviors such as gossiping, negativity or demeaning speech toward coworkers should be discouraged by leaders. Letting these tendencies go unchecked can damage the workplace culture, she says.