Workplace Culture: The pillars of a positive, productive work environment

Posted: July 01, 2020

By Belinda Kovachi

Workplace culture can be summarised as ”the way we do things around here”. It’s the unique combination of how we treat our employees, how they treat each other, the values that our business is based on and what our ultimate purpose is. The benefits of a positive workplace culture are both organisational and individual – providing people with opportunities to grow and thrive, and in turn building sustainable productive and profitable companies.

Organic vs Intentional Workplace Culture

The workplace culture of any business is a product of the combined practices and values that are unique to that business. For many companies, culture evolves organically as the business grows and changes over time. Cultures that develop organically or unintentionally are quite fragile and can become unstable or even toxic in reaction to seemingly small changes either internally or in the operating environment. Companies with strong positive workplace cultures invest time and resources into identifying and building cultures that support their business objectives. Intentional workplace cultures are more sustainable and robust, with the added benefit of forging companies that are more flexible and responsive to change.

Pillars of Workplace Culture Workplace culture,

while unique to each organisation, rests on a common set of principles or pillars. Intentionally building these pillars (and your culture) to support your business objectives is key to a positive, sustainable culture.

1. History – Where did your business come from? What is the story behind what you do and why you do it? Do your employees identify with the narrative behind how the business was founded, how it grew and how you got to where you are today. Not every company has a grand tale of starting as a garage startup and growing into a multi-billion dollar giant like Amazon, but every organisation has inspiring stories that will resonate with their people.

2. Destiny – What is the Vision for your organisation? What do you strive for and where are you headed? Are your people on board with your vision? Do they know what it is? Organisations with strong positive cultures have people who identify with the company vision. They know what it is and how what they do contributes towards achieving this Vision.

3. Values – What does your business stand for? What are the values that underpin your interactions, practices, and behaviors? A strong alignment between employees’ personal values, and organisational values is one of the ways that we measure the strength of your company culture. Another key indicator is the correlation between what you say your values are, and the values that are implied by your behaviour. Are you “walking the talk”?

4. Community – What do your people mean to your business? Is it important that they align to your values and vision? Strong, positive cultures are made up of individual people who work together in a community tat is underpinned by shared values and a common purpose. Even in highly diverse organisations, a strong shared set of values creates an inclusive environment where innovation and change agility is high. Understanding what drives your culture in the right direction allows you to hire for culture fit.

5. Practices – How do you manage your people? What policies do you have to govern people practices, ethics, and operations? Are your policies, rules, and management practices congruent with your values and mission? Intentional culture building ensures policies, practices, and business rules contribute to strengthening the desired culture.

6. Setting – Whether an organisation’s people are spread all over the world or work in a single building, remote workers or office workers, location plays a huge role in informing and reinforcing culture. The design of offices, buildings, and virtual meeting spaces to facilitate collaboration, inclusivity or innovation reinforces these values in these workplaces.

Measuring culture

Culture Surveys provide an objective picture of how stable and aligned the pillars of an organisation’s culture are. Pure Survey works with companies to collect and analyse employee feedback through proven culture survey instruments. Feedback from culture surveys informs their people strategy and allows focused interventions with high impact. Regular measurement tracks effectiveness of people and culture interventions over time. Speak to us about measuring and building your workplace culture, positively, sustainably, and intentionally.