Changing this one thing could lead to big improvements this year!

What if we told you that there was just one thing that could boost staff retention, satisfaction, health, productivity, and well-being? It might sound too good to be true. But, no, we're not talking about a “secret hack.” We're talking about working to create a positive work culture. 

In the following guide, we'll take a look at what exactly creates a company's work culture, examples of both a positive and a negative one, and how you might improve yours pronto. 

Work culture, explained 

First up, let's talk about what work culture means. While you may have heard this term thrown around, it's important to get a solid definition. Work culture is the umbrella term given to the beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviours of a workplace. When put together, these things make up the overall environment of a company. They affect how employees feel about their everyday work and can also have a direct impact on their health and wellbeing.

The first important thing to note about work culture is that it doesn't stem from just one thing. While businesses tend to have outlined values, there's a whole selection of factors that will influence a company's work culture. For example, having a toxic manager in place is a surefire way to create a negative atmosphere for everyone involved. The same may well be true if there's a general culture rife with employee gossiping or blame-shifting. 

Managers have a duty to their staff to provide them with a positive work culture that supports them. While this is not always easy, it's most certainly the goal. Only when staff members feel supported, comfortable, and satisfied in the workplace can they reach their potential. 

Benefits of a positive work culture 

Now that we've given a brief overview of what work culture means, let's talk about why it's important. When you're in a position of power, you have the chance to impact the lives of your team. To quote the popular adage from Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Yes, if you have the chance to affect employees' lives in a positive way, you should absolutely go to every length to do so. Here are some of the benefits of doing just that: 

  • Staff retention. The average employee turnover in the UK is now 35%, making for a rather expensive trend among workers. For that reason, managers must strive to keep their team members satisfied or risk losing them. Needless to say, promoting a healthy, positive work culture can contribute to this ongoing mission. 

  • Better environment. Work culture affects everyone in a business, from the bottom upwards. When you establish the right environment for everyone, it reverberates through the entire business. That means that everyone will benefit from this move. 
  • Fewer sick days. Staff sickness can cost a business greatly. When a company has a toxic work culture, it's no surprise that employees are likely to take more days off. This atmosphere can impact their mental and physical health. So, when businesses work to establish a positive work culture, it may lower this rate. In fact, research suggests that the more satisfied workers are, the less they are absent.

Cultivating a positive work culture is not simply about keeping staff happy, it impacts a variety of things within the workplace. When this aspect of the business starts to slip, those in charge have to ensure that they take action sooner rather than later. The first step in that mission is making sure that you can identify different types of work cultures with ease. 

Positive work culture examples 

Now that we've spoken about how important it is to have a positive work culture, shall we take a look at what that looks like? Here are four examples that you should look out for.

Clear and honest communication 

Communication matters when it comes to the workplace. Managers need to accurately communicate their needs to employees. And, in the same way, coworkers need to share ideas and information quickly and easily. In workplaces where there's a positive work culture, there's a clear and open line of communication that runs throughout each department. Professionals are free to share their thoughts and always have an input.

Respecting each colleague 

Next up, let's talk about respect. When people work in the same place for the majority of their waking lives, they must respect one another. There are no two ways about it. That means respecting someone else's opinion even if you don't always agree with it. Often enough, respect starts at the top of a company and feeds down through the ranks. 

Recognising people's achievements 

When someone excels in the workplace, they deserve to be recognised for their achievements. Research suggests that giving people the recognition that they deserve when they do a job well can lead to higher levels of morale. That could mean simply saying “well done,” giving them an award, or even giving them a shout-out in the next team meeting. 

Employees taking accountability 

Spoiler: We all mess up from time to time. When someone has done something wrong or simply dropped the ball, do they take accountability for their actions? In a place with a toxic work culture, this can be tricky. That's because there is an atmosphere of fear, making workers scared to hold themselves accountable. However, if the workplace is healthy, staff members should have no problem saying that they haven't fulfilled their objective. 

Toxic work culture examples

You've had the good - let's talk about the bad and the ugly. If you've ever worked in a company that has a toxic work culture, you'll know that it's far from easy going. These places can have a detrimental effect on workers' everyday lives. Here are some examples. 

Gossip and negative conversations 

Is the gossip mill running at full force? It may be time to stop it. Research suggests that negative gossip can lead to emotional exhaustion in workers. What may seem like harmless conversations can quickly turn into damaging problems that spread throughout the workforce. Once again, it's often those higher in the company who cultivate a culture of speaking negatively about others. Whatever the case, it needs to be nipped in the bud. 

Confusion and no real clarity 

Not sure what you're supposed to be doing? You may not be alone. When a workplace is toxic, you might find that no one is 100% sure what they should be dealing with on a daily basis. When the communication is unclear and there's room for confusion, that can make work much more stressful than it needs to be. Often enough, employees will try their best to work around and figure out what is needed from them. However, this can be exhausting.

Employees who are fearful 

Perhaps the number one sign of a toxic workplace is this: the employees are fearful. Workers may worry that they will lose their jobs, get in trouble, or face the wrath of their manager for an unexpected reason. When the staff members are scared - for whatever reason - when they come to work, that can have a negative impact on their lives. 

How to improve your work culture 

Whatever position you hold in a business, you may have the opportunity to improve your work culture. While there are many strategies you might use, here are a few to start with: 

  • Learn to communicate. As we've covered, clear communication is the key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Take the time to boost your speaking and, crucially, listening skills to improve your overall communication style.  
  • Solve problems fast. Problems will always arise in a workplace. It's how you handle them that matters. For example, should employees be gossiping, deal with this issue swiftly and confidently by speaking with a member of the HR team. 
  • Keep educating yourself. Education is at the forefront of a good work culture. The more you read about this issue and learn, the more likely you are to be able to implement real (and lasting!) change in your workplace. 

The takeaway 

Businesses with a good work culture will thrive where others may fail. Ensuring that you're doing your part to make the environment inclusive and healthy is a must. In this guide, we've covered the basics that you need to know. However, be sure to continue reading about this issue and looking into the various strategies you can use to improve your workplace. 

Searching for a job with a better work culture? We've got your back. Request a free CV review today. We can help you to land more interviews and get hired faster than ever!

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