Unstoppable workplace cultures are all about people and their relationships with each other. This includes founders and owners, managers, individual workers, contractors and casuals. Good workplace cultures stop toxic behaviours in their track and encourage positive interactions as a team.
Creating a good workplace culture can seem difficult, but ultimately there are sporadic tactics and ways of working you can use to improve your current environment.
Staying connected at a distance
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces have decided to keep a hybrid workplace allowing staff to do their job from home, an office environment or a mix of both. This poses new challenges for managers and staff when improving morale and workplace culture.
However, it can mean a more successful work environment all around. Companies, especially tech and start up businesses, are increasingly proud to be focused on valuing the individual, encouraging them to bring their “whole self” to work and embracing the differences in peoples’ lives that can affect their schedule and work location.
Australian tech giant Atlassian has an approach it calls TEAM Anywhere. This policy includes remote working but focuses on internal culture including good communication, diversity and flexibility. “It recognizes that ideal communication frequency and style depend not just on professional, but personal, lives. People are whole, multi-faceted humans and not solely a reflection of their functional titles,” the policy says.
Clearly, valuing the work people produce and who they are as a person is a worthwhile starting point. Providing flexibility and trust, including allowing work-from-home arrangements where possible, is a great first step. These values should be documented in your human resources policies.
For instance, successful Australian tech company Canva avoids setting strict requirements on work location, saying workers only need to formally be in the office eight times a year. Facebook has expanded its work from home policy to cover employees who were previously office-based, though is adjusting salary depending on the location. Twitter also allows workers to be fully remote if they choose.
Workplace etiquette and experiences
In a digital-first world, much of our communication with colleagues takes place on email, messaging services, collaboration software or applications. It can be quick and it doesn’t always provide much space for friendly discussions. Tone can also be difficult to read. Companies are increasingly providing etiquette guides and expectations to staff, such as whether their camera should be on during virtual meetings, to improve engagement.
Some of the companies with the best workplace cultures, such as Microsoft (ranked number one by review website Comparably), review their staff regularly – not for performance but for their happiness. This gives them a clear sense of how their culture is performing. Undertaking surveys and discussions with staff members and working on practical solutions is a surefire way to identify issues as they arise.
It’s also worth considering the social, fun and play attributes of the office. Tech companies are renowned for offering benefits that go above and beyond the corporate environment, including a dog-friendly policy written into the Google employee code of conduct. Another option could be offering “wellness Fridays” whereby staff members are allowed to leave early on some days of the month or spend office hours focusing on their own development. This long-running idea was picked up by Hewlett Packard Enterprise during the pandemic as an opportunity for staff members to “recharge and re-energise”.
Team building and support
Very few things can replace face-to-face engagement with colleagues. For this reason, where possible, it’s important to consider options to bring teams together to spend time in the same space socially and formally. This can include formal and informal training to create team cohesion and to give people the chance to speak to one another in person.
This can be as simple as an all-hands meeting once a quarter, a formal training day bringing in external companies or going out for a celebration as a team at the completion of a project or for an award.
Finally, if you find your workplace struggling, consider bringing in some professional guidance. Whether it be a workplace culture and mental health business like Headspace, hiring an HR expert or a coaching service, there are professionals able to help take you to the next level.