How to Save a Broken Work Culture

2017-11-21T16:10:53+00:00October 29th, 2015|Startup Culture|

Today’s headlines tell a story we can no longer ignore: America’s workers are withering on the vine of overwork and overwhelm. Despite the value our society places on work, (some say we’re working ourselves to death), workplace cultures—not personal choice—bear the brunt of our collective disapproval. We’ve whitewashed the office, hiked worker demands, whether stated or perceived, and inadvertently cultivated a harvest of disengaged, unhappy employees. With Gallup’s Global Workplace Study citing that 63% of the world’s working population are disengaged, it’s time to assess the kinds of cultures we’re cultivating.

Turnstone’s own research and observation of dozens of companies across the country has revealed four common themes consistently on display in happy, successful organizations. Regardless of the age or size of the company, places with “startup culture” exhibit relentless optimism, energy and dedication to a goal—characteristics that play a role in attracting, retaining and keeping people engaged at work.

While no one characteristic is a silver bullet, we think they have the potential, when taken collectively, to fix broken cultures and heal the relationships people have with their work.

Want to fix a broken work culture? Start here:

  1. Passion: Passion is the fuel that makes us want to get up in the morning and make a difference. It grounds us, reminding us that the hours spent at work are worth it because of the why. Passion is that why. Whether you’re spending your time propelling the non-profit world, technology, education, infrastructure or office furniture, be sure to understand why you’re doing it—and that you’re completely sold out for the cause.
  2. Authenticity: Office cultures of any age and size that mimic startup culture win big when they promote authenticity. Allowing people to work in ways, places and postures that promote active sitting causes increased focus and productivity without compromising comfort. Authentic cultures offer choice and control over where and how work happens rather than forcing desk work or limiting access to options like work cafés and office lounge settings. It also means celebrating the uniqueness of each individual and not asking people to morph, change or hide who they are when they punch in.
  3. Personality: Allowing people to express themselves with personalized work spaces brings a sense of customization to the office. Photos of family and friends, the integration of outside hobbies, team-led lunch ‘n learns, fabric and color selection and other details give workers a sense of longterm ownership and belonging. Taken a step further, color, materiality and design can put your brand on display and present a cohesive personality to all who visit your space.
  4. Agility: Motivated, achievement-oriented people love to get things done. Setting up your space with modular office furniture to increase agility clears the way for work to happen in a fast-paced environment. While high-level organizational bureaucracy certainly plays a role in the level of attainable agility, you can take steps to make sure your space supports the quick pivots necessary for innovation. Providing group work areas, spaces with lounge furniture combined with project tables and white boards, and standing height tables give people an easy place for impromptu meetings and quick brainstorming sessions without the hassle of searching for a conference room.

Positive work environments, deep workplace relationships and vibrant office cultures wield undeniable power when it comes to producing happy, loyal, engaged workers who truly feel as though they’re able to make an impact in their industry—and a difference in our world.