Office Culture Need Help? 10 Things to Watch for — and Fix
Office culture is a big deal, and getting it right is an even bigger deal. Forbes contributor Josh Bersin suggests that culture is the hottest topic in the business world, and Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Trends research reports that employee retention is hitting a crisis point, largely dependent on the fickle but all-important intersection of engagement and a diverse, compelling culture.
With culture dominating headlines and igniting a talent war at covetable places like Zappos, REI and Southwest Airlines, it’s time for companies everywhere to take note — and take steps to enhance their own culture.
- 1 — diagnose areas where culture is lacking. Tools like TinyPulse can help you survey and monitor weak spots and get honest, anonymous feedback from your team.
- 2 — assemble a culture squad to take action on the results of those surveys. Give your team ownership in next steps.
- 3 — celebrate small successes together as you move the needle.
Find what’s wrong and fix it. Start with these 10 Things:
If you aren’t ready to use a formal tool to assess your culture, never fear. Use these signs of withering culture and disengagement as a place to start turning the tide:
- No support from leaders: Nearly all world-changing and history-making moments have begun with a great leader who knows how to rally and support his or her team. Showing support is an action that includes being present, (really) listening, encouraging action and opening doors so that progress can be made.
- Lack of empowerment: While it’s possible for leaders to support the team without empowering them, it can feel like keeping your dog on a leash while training it to hunt. Untether your team and free creativity by delegating daily decisions to managers, getting involved only when it’s most critical, and cheering for your team as they pursue the strategies and tactics you’ve laid out.
- No trust: Nothing crushes culture quite like lack of trust at work and the messages of doubt and incompetency it communicates. Professionals don’t want to be held under a microscope. So unless you have cause for concern (in which case, let HR handle it), extend trust to your people whenever possible. When trust is theirs to lose rather than theirs to earn, they’ll feel supported (see #1) and empowered (see #2) to do their best work for you and the company.
- Fear of failure: Nobody wants to fail, but let’s be honest — failure is crucial to growth and innovation. Great things don’t happen overnight or without a few wrinkles, so make sure your culture is one that embraces failure as being one step closer to success.
- Few meaningful workplace relationships: Having friends at work is critical to employee retention, engagement and workplace satisfaction. In fact, Gallup classifies these relationships as “emotional compensation” for workers, stating that employees with meaningful friendships are 30% more engaged than those without. Take steps to socialize to create a more thriving cultural environment in the office.
- Insufficient human resources: Overloading an already-spread-thin team with extra work and high-pressure deadlines is a sure-fire way to kill your culture. While everyone is trying to do more with less, be mindful of your team’s work life balance and hire an intern, redistribute talent or prioritize projects to keep morale afloat.
- Skimpy financial resources: Even when budgets are tight, do your best to say yes to as much as you can. Repeatedly being told “no” can be demoralizing, leading to disengaged workers who think it’s not worth trying anymore. Vote with your wallet whenever possible, and send the message that you’re doing what you can to see their ideas succeed.
- Uninspired surroundings: Think your space doesn’t matter? Think again. A turnstone Omnibus survey revealed that 80% of managers believe that the physical environment directly impacts culture. So make your space inviting and inspiring. Include a variety of postures like standing height tables and lounge settings to give people options throughout the day.
- Fun has left the building: Having fun together helps build friendships (see #5) and form bonds that will extend into the work day. Group collaboration and brainstorming will be more authentic and spontaneous, and creativity will flourish in workplaces that embrace fun.
- Celebrations exist on paper only: One of the easiest ways to boost culture, employee morale and engagement is to celebrate wins, personal accomplishments and team successes together. Instead of just sending a memo, though certainly better than nothing, opt to recognize great efforts and special moments at weekly team meetings. Not only does it shine a deserved spotlight, it gives others the opportunity to applaud coworkers, ask questions and give high fives.