All too often, businesses fail to acknowledge and recognize the significant impact of workplace culture on employee performance. This is a risky stance to take and can cause untold damage to morale and productivity, employee retention and, ultimately, organizational profitability. An ineffective workforce is simply counterproductive to success. If you want to build and sustain a strong, supportive workplace culture, it needs to happen from the top and it needs to happen fast - no dilly-dallying around. It will require commitment from all managers and leaders within the organization, each of whom must make a concerted effort to introduce new initiatives and encourage positive behavior through example and recognition.
Five effective techniques
Despite what you may think, you don't need to spend an inordinate amount of time or money to establish and maintain a positive workplace culture in your organization. It simply requires a little bit of forethought and the commitment of those in leadership positions to implement and inspire change from within. Here are five effective techniques you can use to motivate your employees and create a united and positive culture:
1. Establish trust
To be effective, relationships must be built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect. Without trust, you’re unlikely to achieve any semblance of a positive workplace culture. If your employees have little faith in your values, commitment, and ability, it will be incredibly challenging to establish effective working relationships in which you can connect, motivate, and inspire them to excel.
It’s also important to slacken the reigns of autonomy - don’t micro-manage to the extent that you’re causing undue stress. If there’s a lack of trust in an employee’s abilities, address the issue, explain your expectations and empower him or her to excel in the role. Make sure your employees have all of the necessary skills and tools to carry out their tasks effectively, without the need to scrutinize their every move.
2. Effective communication
Communication is such a basic concept, yet it’s one of the biggest downfalls of many otherwise successful businesses. Poor communication causes confusion, damages relations, and employee performance, and essentially leads to a weak and ineffective workplace culture. It’s also incredibly harmful to your bottom line.
If your employees do not know what you’re trying to achieve, if they do not understand the messages you are attempting to convey or what you want them to do, you’ll have a very stressed and unproductive workforce on your hands. Be clear about your aim and intentions, make sure they fully understand what is expected of them, and always choose the most appropriate means of communication to avoid misinterpretation.
During times of organizational change or economic uncertainty that may cause concern to your workforce, it’s even more important to keep the lines of communication open. Employees need to feel informed and reassured - make sure they are kept up to date with any changes that may affect their day-to-day activities or future in the organization.
3. Encourage feedback
Inviting and encouraging employee feedback is an extremely effective way to determine and understand how your workers feel and whether their needs are being met. You can’t just guess, lest you make inaccurate assumptions and come to the wrong conclusion about the current state of affairs. Whether it’s anonymous or open, your employees need to feel that they’re being heard, that their opinions matter and that they’re valued members of your organization.
4. Build rapport
Get to know your employees on an individual level - they’re more than just cogs in a machine. Open up the lines of communication by letting your guard down. This will enable you to find out about their passions and life outside of work, build a rapport and establish mutual trust and respect. By removing the barrier of intimidation, employees will feel more relaxed and happy in the workplace, they will feel valued as individuals, they will be more inclined to raise issues that negatively affect their jobs, and they will be encouraged to work harder for you in a bid to maintain harmonious relations.
5. Employee recognition
Avoid taking people for granted. Acknowledge hard work and dedication by showing sincere appreciation to your workforce. Job satisfaction requires more than a pay cheque and a Christmas night out - people need to feel that their contributions are important, no matter how insignificant their duties may seem in the grand scheme of your organization.
One way or another, every employee plays a vital role in the success of your business. Be sure to make this clear by demonstrating employee recognition as often as possible - you’ll stand a much better chance of maintaining positive relations and retaining valuable talent. A culture of ingratitude is not conducive to morale and will simply result in resentment and job dissatisfaction, not to mention recurring recruitment costs for your organization.