No employer wants to end up with a toxic workplace culture. Negativity spreads, and it can drive employees away quickly. A positive workplace culture, on the other hand, is associated with higher productivity and reduced turnover—a real win-win. Changing the workplace culture takes time and effort, but the payoff can be enormous.
Here are some characteristics of positive workplace cultures:
- There’s frequent and appropriate communication from management and HR. Transparency tells employees they’re trusted and reduces the chances of rumors taking over for real communication. When the upper levels of the organization are open with employees, it can help foster good communication throughout the organization.
- Real teamwork is encouraged. Employees work well together and don’t often fight among themselves.
- The organizational goals are known, and employees know how their role fits into the big picture. They understand how they are helping the organization achieve its goals. This comes down to communication, in many cases.
- The organization has values, communicates those values to employees, and acts in ways that are consistent with those values.
- Employee morale is high. This can be gauged through employee engagement surveys.
- Workload expectations are appropriate, minimizing employee burnout. (Employee burnout can lead to stress, negativity, and reduced morale.)
- Consideration is given to work/life balance, and steps are taken to help employees achieve it.
- Employees are treated fairly, and there is consistency in how employees are treated across groups and teams. There’s no sense of unfairness or favoritism.
- Harassment, disrespect, discrimination, bullying, unsafe behaviors, and violence are not tolerated in any way. Policies and actions reflect this.
- Problem employees are dealt with appropriately and promptly. Other employees want to know the employer can be trusted to protect them and not foster a workplace that has problems.
- The employer finds ways to show employees appreciation. Employee efforts are recognized. Recognition is frequent.
- The organization does not tolerate (let alone encourage) unethical or dishonest behavior. If this behavior is discovered in the organization, steps are taken to eliminate it. Employees are more likely to stay with a company they respect.
- Employee development programs have been implemented, and employees know where they are in relation to their long-term development plans. This usually includes an employee training program to augment employee development plans. Employees should see that the organization is invested in their future.
- Employees are given the tools they need to succeed. Goals are clear, and employees have the confidence they will be able to achieve what is expected of them.
- The workplace is not overly rigid. Things change, and circumstances change. Employer rules cannot be so rigid that they do not allow any flexibility for changing situations. Flexibility can come in many forms, but it’s important the employer shows it.
- Employees are given feedback frequently and in an appropriate way. Employees want to know how they’re doing—tell them.
Choosing items on this list to improve upon can be a first step toward improving a negative organizational culture. What has your experience been with trying to attain cultural shifts?