Workplace Culture: How To Create And Sustain It

by Srikant Chellappa Apr 25,2021

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Workplace culture can either be the jewel in the crown for an organization or an unsightly blemish that mars their otherwise spotless visage.

Now, more than ever, organizations are beginning to focus on creating a workplace culture that appeals to everyone, especially the incoming workforce. ‘Good’ workplace culture is touted as a perk that employees receive in order to make an organization seem attractive. But this begs the question, what is good workplace culture? Should it be one that focuses on attractive employee perks and privileges or is it one that creates a holistic work environment?

The answer is a healthy mix of the two. No employee is going to say no to perks. They are nice to have and employees will appreciate them. However, the perks will only be attractive when the rest of the organization’s culture matches up as well.

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Another reason why workplace culture is so important is that it also directly impacts certain other factors such as employee engagement, employee morale, and even performance. Consistently good work which contributes massively to an organization’s success can only happen when the workplace culture is one that fosters a healthy work environment.

It is important that organizations focus on the right things to fix when creating an attractive workplace culture. Culture is unique to every organization and it could be considered a visible offshoot of the organization’s core mission and values. If your culture and values are discordant or oppose each other, then you are setting yourself up for an uphill task.

It is also worth remembering that culture can make or break an organization. Culture just does not constitute behavior in the workplace. It also includes business practices and motivations.

Here’s what else you need to consider when deciding upon creating or even fixing workplace culture at your organization.

Everyone Is Responsible For Building Workplace Culture

As per research by Deloitte, only 19% of executives believe their company has the ‘right culture.

Culture cannot be the ambit of the HR department alone. Often, to effect cultural change is to effect a seismic shift in the way of thinking. This can only be accomplished by someone who wields considerable influence within an organization, like leaders or senior executives. Leaders are capable of inspiring a large number of employees. Should they affect a cultural change or even show signs of doing so, this permeates down through the organization. HR leaders by themselves will not be able to do much. Instead, they need to work in tandem with senior leaders to effect change. 

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Do Not Compare Existing Culture With Other Organizations

Do not look to other organizations for inspiration, when it comes to culture. Culture is highly variable according to industry and one industry’s culture might not be the right fit for another. For example, it is impossible for an investment bank and a tech firm to adopt each other’s work cultures. Banking is a highly regulated field and subject to certain rules and regulations. On the other hand, the tech industry is subject to completely different rules. What works for one might not work for the other. Instead of forcing culture upon an organization, akin to fitting a square peg into a round hole, it should be the other way around. Organizations should create a culture that works for them. 

As mentioned above, culture tends to be the offshoot of an organization’s mission and values. Take inspiration from here instead of elsewhere.

Evaluate Existing Work Culture

It is important to evaluate your organization’s existing culture before making any sweeping changes. This can be accomplished through a well-crafted survey.  The reason why it is important to do a cultural inventory is that these surveys can reveal a lot of useful insights. It can teach leaders that instead of overhauling an organization’s entire culture, they might simply need to make strategic changes to existing processes. Through the survey, they might flag culture-defeating behaviors or bring to light examples of great culture. But unless you make the effort to know, it is not possible to see all of this. 

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Give Time To See The Effect

Cultural change is very slow to take place. It’s not an overnight process and neither can it be something that happens in a flash. It can feel demoralizing to start a change process and not see visible results. It is important to remember that culture is often a belief system that has been reinforced over a period of time. Since it is a part of a belief system that employees often share, it can often be hard for employees to let go of long-held beliefs. Changing workplace culture requires patience and effort. It’s a long-term process that will show tangible results only a few years down the line.

Do you want to know how Engagedly can help you build a better work culture? Then request for a live demo.

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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