Business thrives on productivity and employee interaction with customers. The more productive a company is and the better its customers service, the more income that it generates. Productivity is measured by the output of employees. No other factor influences productivity and customer interaction more than how the employees feel about their job. Those emotions are heavily mired on the culture in the workplace. This culture is generally cultivated by the management team.
What is Culture in the Workplace?
Working environments are not the same across the board. Blaine Donais, in his book "Workplaces that Work," defines culture as "a system of shared beliefs, values and norms that shape behavior." This system of shared beliefs creates the atmosphere in which the employees work and determine their worth in the company, their opportunities within the company and their opinion of their managers. This culture can also be defined by dress code, conflict resolution policies, industry and language.
Examining Workplace Culture
A review of the culture of the workplace helps the management team to create models that inspire a more productive and employee-friendly culture. Bonnie Barnard, director of the Center for Business Education at Edmonds Community College, writes in a report, "models are helpful for determining options within work environments." Understanding the workplace culture gives management insight as to what hinders production, what can be changed and what policies can be added.
Negative cultures discourage employees from having opinions. This is generally a result of a management team that only sees employees for their production values. Debbie Schachter, writes in "Information Outlook," "Cultures that can be a liability to an organization include those that create barriers to change, create barriers to diversity or barriers to mergers and acquisitions." Employees who don't feel valued move on to companies that encourage their input. High turn over results in less qualified employees.
Positive workplace cultures retain more employees. Employees who remain in positions for extended periods of time develop relationships with preferred customers and can often be the reason a customer does business with a company. Motivated employees value the company's assets more, and their decisions reflect this value. They are more vocal in a positive way that keeps the company's ideas fresh and relevant.
Joan Hodgins. a management psychologist, contends that "Research shows that organisations that are committed to developing and maintaining a culture of 'dignity at work', reap the benefits in terms of financial results." Blaine Donais advises that large workplaces have to be aware of subcultures that can develop in different regions in the world. Large companies may need outside help to create national or global platforms to encourage a unified culture among all their locations.
- Literacy Works; The Importance of Culture: Four Models for Workplace Basic Skills; Bonnie Barnard and Susan Bannan
- Bnet; The Importance of Understanding Organizational Culture; Information Outlook, June, 2005; Debbie Schachter
- The Post.IE; Don't Underestimate the Importance of Workplace Culture; Joan Hodgins
- corporate game image by Steve Johnson from Fotolia.com