HR What, an Inspired Visions brand, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and others. This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. This is what keeps my blog in motion!
The world has changed as we know it. When we go back to what appears will be a new normal, perhaps there are things we will have learned, realized, or just have a new appreciation for. We are hoping for that, right? The hope is when it comes to friends, family, money, nature, etc., we will have a new and refreshed perspective. I believe the same can be said for companies and businesses alike. Perhaps this is exactly what the corporate world needed to reset, redefine, and renew the character and personality of their organizations. Think about it! Workplace culture change should be front and center.
So what are some examples that can change a workplace culture? Think about the companies that once shunned the concept of working from home. They have certainly found ways to do so during this pandemic. So, when it’s time to get back into the office, perhaps it will be the best, most opportune time to work on changing or fine tuning the workplace culture as well. Will company culture change?
I have been through corporate attempts at workplace culture change. In my experience, companies want to change, but efforts generally are not sustained. The idea and concept on how to do so appears to be easy but they always fall back to old ways or abandon the process when there are unforeseen issues that take clear precedence. Many times, the process gets way too complex. Workshops, tons of meetings, and an abundance of classroom-like training takes too much time away from actual work. During this crisis, in a matter of weeks and sometimes days for some, everything changed just like that. If those decisions and changes could happen so fast, there has got to be a way to simplify the concept of workplace culture change when the world goes back to the new normal. Here me out.
Just Keep Workplace Culture Change Simple
Simple concepts-that is what is needed. It could be as easy as defining words, giving examples and exhibiting something as part of a daily or weekly routine. And most importantly, document it. During my HR career, I have been part of various safety programs. A simple yet effective one that I will never forget is calling out an opportunity OR a success and writing it down. The focus was not on finding fault in people, but generalities in order to improve the safety culture. Monthly, there would be a newsletter of sorts that showed how many positives and how many opportunities for improvement there were. When I left that company, I found my self exhibiting the same concepts at other companies showing the hazards as well as the positive aspects of safety – can it be that simple? I think so.
Defining Simple Words
In order to understand how the list of definitions below can help your business, it important to understand how workplace culture is defined. This blurb from Forbes sums it up quite nicely:
Culture is the environment that surrounds us all the time. A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share. This is shaped by individual upbringing, social and cultural context. In a workplace, however, the leadership and the strategic organizational directions and management influence the workplace culture to a huge extent. A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.Dr. Pragya Agarwal, Contributor to Forbes.com
Inclusivity Consultant, Behavioural Scientist, TEDx Speaker, Author of SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias
The only thing missing, in my opinion, is how important it is for c-level leaders, management, and human resources to embrace this and lead by example. After all, workplace culture starts at the top. In these ever-changing times, words and their definitions can be the simplest way to get others to think about positive workplace culture change. Let me outline a few words that may help define how change looks.
…to restore strength and animation to : REVIVE
…to freshen up : RENOVATE
…to restore or maintain by renewing supply : REPLENISH
…to update or renew–Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Are you a human resources professional that had to furlough employees? I have heard of businesses laying off their employees and told them to reapply to get their jobs back. Why? Could it be that the business needs to refresh their culture and by doing so they are able to redefine the talent? I am not saying this is the best approach, but it could be one approach to changing the workplace culture. This may be the best time to revive the business, renovate the policies and replenish the workforce.
…to set again or anew
…to change the reading of often to zero–Merriam-Webster Dictionary
For closed businesses, this may be an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of their business. What was working well? What wasn’t? Is it time to hit the reset button and do it all over again? Or is now the time to go back to the drawing board and propose new initiative and ideas? This isn’t just for closed businesses either. While many in the workforce are working from home, should companies reset their priorities when it comes to flexibility?
…to define (something, such as a concept) again: REFORMULATE
…to reexamine or reevaluate especially with a view to change–Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Now is as good as time as any to redefine workplace culture. This is where human resources can help change concepts that lead to a positive culture shift. Policies are a great please to start, especially when it comes to a creating and maintaining a positive, flexible work environment. Maybe a change in benefits that become a win-win for the company by saving money while at the same time getting the most out of their employees? Redefining values, competencies and what is really important to the business – the time is now.
…to make like new: restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection
…to make new spiritually : REGENERATE
…to restore to existence: REVIVE
…to make extensive changes in: REBUILD
…to do again: REPEAT
…to begin again: RESUME
…REPLACE, REPLENISH–Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Maybe your workplace culture is just fine. This crisis has reiterated the fact that the business can keep on during these uncertain times, Perhaps employees have maintained a positive attitude and carried out all responsibilities as if they were in the office. If this is the case, my hats are off to you – can you give others insight as to how you do it? For others, it may be a time to rebuild and renew a culture that may have shifted in the wrong direction.
An Example of Building Positive Workplace Culture
These definitions and examples can be used to open the minds of leaders and employees alike. It can be a simple business weekly or monthly affirmation of sorts. Each week a leader can send out a word that helps build a positive workplace culture, relate it to a business value and of course have an example to go with it. Encourage employees to give their own example, constructive or positive on how this affects them, their team, or department – it can be done anonymously on a chat board or company intranet. It could be written down and put into a mailbox.
Communication is Key
While making things ‘mandatory’ does not bode well for some people, gently make subtle references to it during meetings, one on ones and praise those who partake can be of tremendous value! Send out a newsletter, email or communicate during weekly meetings outlining all the positive and constructive reactions on that one ‘word of the week.’ Subtly and in time it will all come together and changing up the concept will prevent it from becoming boring or weekly rhetoric (here we go again). Communication is key and maybe having an employee-driven culture group to help manage it will make it more exciting.
It may be the simplest things that result in effective positive workplace culture change. As long as c-level management and human resources teams work together and tow the positive culture line with excitement and communication, the following concepts (with definitions of course) will happen when employees participate in the process.
Why do we want employees to feel empowered? Empowerment helps create and accept change. It also adds value to the work that is being done. Success begins with engaged employees who are empowered to become part of the change where they add value.
Teamwork adds value. Everyone is in this change concept together. If the company does not work as a team, it will continue to be company says-employees do. If it appears that the company is seeking all employees feedback and working together to create change, it will happen and a positive culture will ensue.
Accountability is knowing that we are all responsible for our actions and outcomes as a result of the choices we make. We want to make good choices that result in great outcomes. We accept responsibility when outcomes are not desired, but we use that as a learning opportunity to help make positive change. This is not punishment but rather opportunities for awareness and improvement and it should be communicated as such by all.
Every day is a learning experience. Embrace it and realize that it helps everyone to learn from constructive feedback and what works for others as well.
To facilitate change, employees should feel empowered to think outside the box to affect change. All company employees need to take responsibility and learn from their actions, projects, etc. In addition, give feedback that is both positive and constructive about situations, voicing concerns, and suggestions for improvements. Companies don’t have to make things difficult or complicated. Sometimes the simplest communication tactics and conversation pieces have the greatest impact, especially when it is being done from top to bottom. The c-level leadership, strategic organizational direction, and management have a huge influence on workplace culture. And during these times, why not work to change it for the better.
Last But Not Least
While the world has changed during this crisis in the most critical and complicated ways, why don’t companies work on changing or creating positive workplace culture for the better and in the simplest ways? Only time will tell. What do you think?
all the best, judean
Subscribe and stay plugged in! You will only hear from me when I publish a new post!