The office culture in your organization represents its personality, its identity. It guides the behaviors and attitudes of your employees. Companies that allow their office culture to form naturally run the risk of losing control of their corporate values, traditions and beliefs. Your office culture can make the difference between your company being perceived as the best (or worst) place to work. These feelings can easily bleed into the messages your customers receive when interacting with your brand—messages that can leave lasting impressions, good or bad. Office culture is also the driving force behind healthy work habits and thriving productivity. This means managers should ensure that a structured office culture is established, communicated and encouraged to ensure the right voice and behavior for your organization.
Myth #1: Productivity means working long hours.
Spending more hours at work doesn’t necessarily translate into a more productive workforce. When addressing office culture, this is an important point to note. Productivity needs to be the objective, not necessarily bums in seats. Research shows that productivity per hour falls after an employee begins working more than 50 hours per week. Working longer hours also leads to burnout and employee turnover. Organizations need to focus on working smarter rather than working harder. One way to encourage this trend is to introduce well-being concepts like The Law of Least Effort, which encourages the following mental processes.
1. Accept your current situation as it is, not as you wish it to be.
2. Take accountability for any problems you see in your current situation, realizing that problems are opportunities in disguise.
3. Detach yourself from the need to defend your point of view.
Put simply, these steps can take the emotion out of your workday and help you focus on your tasks without reacting to the “noise” around you. Be accountable; concentrate on getting the task done and not on who will get the credit. This helps employees work smarter and faster. They also avoid the counter-productive and time-consuming toxic trap of office politics.
Myth #2: Money is a top employee motivator.
Money as a motivator within office culture is complex. Humans are unique, each with a particular set of motivators. Employees have over the years been enticed with salary increases, bonuses and other financial incentives as a way to raise productivity, reduce turnover, improve customer service and even reduce absenteeism rates. Why, then, are so many companies still experiencing low productivity, high turnover, declining quality, poor customer service and high absenteeism despite the monetary carrots they have dangled before their employees?
In fact, research has found that money does not buy engagement. A recent study on the Great Resignation found a disconnect around this issue between employers and employees. When employees were asked why they were quitting, they often cited relational factors like not feeling valued by their organizations or not feeling a sense of belonging. On the other hand, when employers were asked why their employees were quitting, they tended to cite compensation and other transactional factors. Employees want to feel valued, appreciated and recognized. Managers who realize this, and who invest in acknowledging their employees’ efforts, see higher productivity levels and less turnover. Employees want autonomy, they want to be challenged, they want to feel a sense of belonging. Investing in building your workforce will inevitably yield better results when it comes to productivity than simply offering another bonus.
Myth #3: A fun office means performance suffers.
The age-old notion that fun in the workplace detracts from productivity is now out the window. When defining office culture, managers should remember that it is your team that drives your ultimate success. Taking the time to get to know them, to invest in them as people and to build bonds with them heightens their desire to perform. They feel valued, appreciated and driven to achieve. Building relationships with your team encourages connections with colleagues and creates a climate in which collaboration, communication and creativity flourish. Scheduling regular team-building activities fosters a team mentality—which leads to greater productivity.
Myth #4: A great workplace has no conflict.
Contrary to what many people believe, conflict is good. When defining your office culture, constructive conflict should be encouraged. Managed effectively, this will stimulate discussion and drive conversations around innovative ideas, as well as drive up standards. Handled with compassion and empathy, conflict can open the doors to positive discussions and can be channeled into growth. Managers should stop trying to navigate conflict on behalf of their employees. They should, instead, provide them with a safe environment to resolve issues among themselves.
Why Office Culture Is So Important
Having a positive work environment attracts talent, drives engagement, leads to higher employee satisfaction and improves productivity. Defining your office culture around these guidelines enables you to ensure a structured environment where your employees can thrive. It puts the right boundaries in place and provides the ideal platform for growth within your organization. Office culture can and will change over time. Invest as much in your company culture as you do in your business strategy. As leaders and HR professionals, you have a powerful opportunity to shape it, and that is among your top responsibilities.