How Healthy is Your Workplace Culture?
By Sonya Buck, AgCareers.com
Ok you’re busy, things seem to be going ok in the business and there doesn’t seem to be any complaints from your employees, but what is really going on beneath all of this?
Yes, several employees have left the organisation during the last year, sick days are on the increase, but surely that’s normal? Now might be the time to do a health check on your workplace culture. How positive is it?
Not just a fluffy concept or a couple of buzz words, workplace culture really matters. Importantly, it can affect your bottom line, so this alone should make it rise up the list of your priorities.
To examine workplace culture you need to look at several aspects:
Hire the right people. Take time with your recruitment process and remember you can teach someone to perform a task, but can’t teach them a positive attitude. Subtly ask for this attribute in the position advertising and test it with some well-considered questions at interview. Ensure for each successful candidate their optimistic attitude shines through.
Once you have found the right candidate, take time to train and develop them on an ongoing basis. They will feel empowered and in turn carry out their duties efficiently. They will also be a great asset to call upon for when new employees commence and you will be able to promote from within the organisation.
Employees rank appreciation as their number one issue in the workplace.
Ensure staff know the organisation values its people. Make sure you acknowledge their work and be grateful. This can be at the time as a thank you for completing work so quickly, or depending on the achievement, making a formal announcement at the staff meeting. If a fantastic achievement, maybe a reward is warranted – going home early on Friday or an afternoon off? (We discuss employee reward schemes in a future article)
Done well, everyone knows what is going on and why, if not rumour and gossip can take over.
Communication is particularly important during change management when staff may be feeling insecure. Don’t just send off a group email, call everyone together, so you can answer their questions and address any fears.
If someone needs to step out to attend their child’s award ceremony at school, let them go. They can always make up the time before or after work. Besides their appreciation, it’s a whole lot better than facing an unproductive sick day.
Ensure your workplace is an environment based on respect. All of the staff’s ideas and opinions are heard, no one is allowed to speak over each other and definitely there are no raised voices or swearing tolerated. Yes, depending on the Agricultural workplace setting swearing might be the norm, but it’s the intent that’s important. No one should be allowed to swear at anyone in order to demean or denigrate them. You’ll need to lead by example on this and guide any objectionable behaviour.
Fairness and Perception of Fairness
One employee might arrive late each day. The other employees may be thinking, “Why are they allowed to arrive late and I am not?” Make sure everyone knows that person works till 6pm instead of 5pm (when the others leave) and this has been negotiated.
You’ll also need to act fairly, always giving a certain person a great shift or weekends off may not sit well with those who constantly carry out the less desirable shifts. Like children, in the workplace there should definitely be no favourites!
Take the time
Your organisation has grown substantially and you don’t have time to speak to each employee. Take some time to touch base where you can. Just a minute here and there makes all the difference.
I once worked for an organisation of 200 people located all in the one place. The Managing Director knew something about every employee and raised it when he ran into them in the elevator. For me it was “How is your Dad?” He knew my Dad was in poor health. I’m not sure if he wrote it all down, but he did have a different piece of information about each person to mention.
Welcome employee feedback. Who else knows on a daily basis where things could go awry or be in the position to improve systems by offering suggestions. You won’t be close enough to the coal face to know everything, so feedback is essential. Staff will feel heard and in turn, valued.
Still not convinced? Back to the bottom line -
Go back to a different time in your career. Did you dread going into work each day at a particular company? Why did you feel that way? Maybe it was the unhealthy workplace culture.
To change or improve your workplace culture, you’ll need to make a firm commitment, plus an investment in time. Ensure you take the management team with you on this one, you can’t make this important workplace transformation yourself.