Happiness at work extends far beyond successfully completing tasks. It encompasses fitting in with the organisation and sharing its purpose, values, vision, and work style – ultimately driving business success through culture. When an organisation deliberately defines and actively nurtures its workplace culture, it thrives. However, if the culture is left unattended, it can lead to disharmony – and if it festers, toxicity.
Toxic cultures are often the reason for high-turnover rates, low productivity, and a decreased level of team engagement. But how do we measure good culture? There are three primary indicators that you have a good culture within your organisation. These are:
- Your team reports feeling satisfied within their roles and in turn, feel fulfilled.
- Your team is productive, both individually and collectively, and feel that they are trusted to perform their responsibilities.
- Your team is creative and innovative with their ideas, which indicates high levels of psychological safety.
Team satisfaction, improved productivity and enhanced creativity all play important roles in creating a positive organisational culture. So, how do you harness them to remove potential areas of concern?
A positive company culture fosters a positive work environment that promotes happiness and fulfillment, creating a sense of purpose in team members. As a result, team members are more satisfied with their jobs, leading to higher retention rates. According to a study by Glassdoor, organisations with a positive culture and work environment have a 13.9% higher retention rate compared to organisations with a negative culture. (1. Hohman, J. (2016). Why Company Culture is More Important Than Ever. Glassdoor.)
Leaders can elevate the levels of team satisfaction by addressing toxic behaviours as they arise. It is important that swift and effective action is taken to address any issues, and that support is provided to team members who may be directly affected. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, addressing toxic behaviours in the workplace can lead to a 30% increase in overall satisfaction. (2. Porath, C., & Pearson, C. M. (2013). The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line. Harvard Business Review.)
The most effective way to understand and address the experience of your culture is to ask those who are in it and live it every day – your team members:
- What are some specific examples of behaviour that you have observed in our workplace?
- How can I as a leader better ensure that team members behaviours align with our values?
- What steps can I, as a leader, take to hold team members accountable for their behaviour and ensure that it aligns with our values?
- How can I/we better support team members who are affected by poor behaviour?
Team members who feel valued, trusted, and respected are more likely to be productive, which further reduces a toxic workplace culture. Positive cultures promote teamwork, communication, and collaboration, creating a sense of belonging and teamwork that improves efficiency and productivity. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 71% of respondents agreed that a positive workplace culture increases their engagement and productivity. Furthermore, 64% of respondents believed that a positive workplace culture positively impacts the overall financial performance of an organisation. (3. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. (2017). The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance.)
Leaders can increase the productivity of their teams by providing and creating space for team recognition. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate individuals who exhibit behaviours that align with the desired culture, as this additionally reinforces clear expectations for the team to measure themselves against. This can include recognition platforms, connecting promotions to behaviour or just letting people know how much you appreciate them.
It is important to understand the blockages that may be preventing productivity, and the knock-on effect of this being limited levels of trust and respect.
- What are your long-term career goals, and how can I support you in achieving them?
- What are some of the strengths and talents that you bring to the team that we may not be leveraging?
- What are some things that I am doing well as a leader, and what are some areas where I could improve?
When team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, they are more likely to be creative and innovative. Positive cultures foster open communication and encourage team members to think outside the box, leading to new and unique solutions to problems.
Leaders can enhance the levels of creativity within their teams by fostering open communication. This creates an environment where team members feel comfortable to share their opinions, innovative ideas, and honest feedback. A study conducted by Google found that psychological safety, which is defined as feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of others, was the most important factor in creating high-performing teams. (4. Re:Work Google)
In teams where psychological safety is present, team members are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and engaging in open communication, which leads to increased creativity and innovation. Here are some questions you can ask your team members to enhance their levels of psychological safety, and further minimise the potential risk of a toxic workplace culture:
- What are some ways we can measure and track the success of our creative ideas and initiatives?
- How can we create more opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and brainstorming?
- How can we celebrate and recognise the unique talents and strengths that each team member brings to the table?
A positive company culture is critical to the success of any organisation. It promotes team satisfaction, productivity, and creativity. By following the tips outlined above, leaders can prevent their culture from becoming toxic and create an environment that fosters growth and success for all members within the organisation.