Numerous sources indicate that an organization’s culture impacts its ability to sustainably achieve goals and perform successfully in competitive markets. Although there is no one single formula, research identifies a mix of characteristics present in successful workplace cultures, as briefly described in this chart.
|Characteristic||Why it is important|
|Leadership||More than all other forces, leadership has the greatest impact on
an organization’s culture. What leaders value and the behaviors
they model influence all employee behaviors.
|Mission||Defining an organization’s mission, how it impacts the community,
and how each employee contributes, vitalizes the work culture
|Communication||When free flowing communication exists between all levels of an
organization, it builds solidarity and breaks down silos.
|Transparency||Clarity of purpose and reason in decision making creates transparency,
supporting an atmosphere of trust.
|Diverse||Purposefully seeking diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills
results in more informed decision making and enhances business
|Inclusive||The benefit of a diverse workforce is maximized when there is a
commitment to inclusive practices that inspire all employees to
voluntarily contribute their best efforts.
|Respectful||Disagreement and dialog is essential for strong decision making,
but must be done respectfully and without personal attacks.
|Accountable||Employers who hold employees accountable for their actions will
stimulate their best efforts and counter the tendency to settle for
|Safe||Employees are empowered when they feel safe to freely express
their ideas and concerns. This reduces blind spots and expands
useful information to inform actions.
|Organizations that demand excellence and competence of every
employee are more likely to attract, engage and retain high performers.
Workplace cultures are driven by the interplay of these characteristics; excelling in one category while failing in another will reduce overall success. Launching efforts to challenge the status quo will likely result in resistance and even failure; when pursued purposefully and energetically, change will happen and gain momentum.
So what can HR do to lead on creating a more successful workplace culture?
- Evaluate the organization to identify strengths and areas of opportunity.
- Gather data on these characteristics through direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
- Secure Leadership support by explaining why it matters and potential ROI.
- Partner with managers to gain support, set goals and model desired behaviors.
- Prioritize, maintain focus, continuously monitor and be flexible to adjust as needed
To inform your journey toward creating a more successful workplace culture, consider these recent additions to the Library collection:
Firms of Endearment: How world class companies profit from passion and purpose
Primed to Perform: How to build the highest performing cultures through the science of total motivation
Everybody Matters: The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family
How Google Works
The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures; Harvard Business Review Jan/ Feb 2019
Organizational Neglect: The toxic triangle of deficits; Organizational Dynamics Vol. 47
These materials are available for members to check out; contact Library@Employers Council.org for assistance. For additional resources, expertise and services to improve workplace culture, members are encouraged to reach out to Employers Council.