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Is workplace culture still relevant?

There have been many significant world events over the last few years which have affected organisations in various ways. Some companies have embraced the changes and managed to adapt whilst others have struggled through difficult times, but there is no doubt these events have had a major impact on how businesses now operate. One of the things that has been affected in nearly every workplace is the culture and this is something we talk about regularly with our clients. It is so much more challenging for businesses to maintain or develop their culture when they have had to face increased staff turnover and challenges with recruiting alongside getting the balance of hybrid working right.

But what does this word culture really mean and is culture still relevant when plenty of businesses have survived online for months and now years?



It can be difficult to define culture, but essentially it is the environment an organisation creates through their traditions, interactions, attitudes, values and behaviours. Culture in a workplace is not just what your website says or what your introduction in the employee handbook says. Culture is fundamental to the business if we want to succeed and grow. It is the way we empower and develop our people. It is why our clients want to do business with us again and again. It is how it makes us feel when an employee leaves and how an employee feels about telling their boss they are struggling. It is trusting employees to work from home but instilling the company values in them that make them want to work hard. Culture can be the difference between Sunday blues and Monday motivation and the reason our employees don’t look for another job.

But why does it matter? Many businesses make money without a good workplace culture so why go to all the effort? Good culture cannot solve every problem and it isn’t the only reason someone wants to stay and a poor culture certainly isn’t the only reason an employee doesn’t engage with our business. Nearly every company we speak to at the moment reports they are struggling to recruit the right people with the right skills and retention is difficult with so many jobs available from competitors offering more money.

Having a strong workplace culture helps to engage employees and can make employees want the business to succeed so they can succeed alongside it. A good culture helps with motivation, commitment and trust in the company which, in a difficult labour market, helps with retention. Recruiting employees is a costly and time consuming process to go through so retention couldn’t be more important than in today’s challenging climate. When we do recruit, the first few days and weeks of someone’s employment is again time consuming so if we don’t have a good culture, what is encouraging these employees to stay and to work hard?

So, what can we do to create, harness or improve our own workplace culture?

The first step is to look at what our employees and also possibly our clients and suppliers really think about our workplace culture. Whether this is by employee engagement surveys, appraisal systems or client feedback, it is really important to know what people truly think about the business and the culture. When we get the feedback, we need to be honest with ourselves, we need to shy away from excuses and really understand how and where in the business we can improve.

When I say improve, this starts with the leaders. Leaders lead by example. Whatever they do, their workforce can reasonably be expected to copy – good or bad. Once the survey results are in and analysed, the first step on the road to culture development is for the leaders to agree their own action plan and to follow it through. The impact will be significant.

We work with so many companies with great workplace cultures but as with everything, we can all improve and in many cases a small increase in positive culture can have a significant impact on the business as a whole.

By Rachel Storey Dip CII | Sales & Marketing Manager | HR  Consultant

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