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  • Happy at work

    The Importance of Healthy Work Culture

    Photo of Laura Sue Johnson

    by Laura Sue Johnson

    Happy at work

    When we set out to build a business, we are often focused on and passionate about a specific product, mission, or service. As business grows, so does our team. In the midst of that growth, the idea of culture can either get lost in the shuffle or ignored altogether because we tend to place a lot of focus and energy in productivity and efficiency.

    If, however, we do not take the time to intentionally curate the workplace culture of our businesses, circumstances will do it for us, and that will not always land in our favor. Let’s take a look at the importance of workplace culture and why this should be an ongoing and integral part of how we create and run our businesses.

    We spend so much time at work in our lives. People deserve to feel valued, supported, motivated, and respected when they come to work. We are responsible for creating spaces that foster a healthy environment. It starts with hiring people who will uphold the values we have identified for our businesses, and it continues as a healthy cycle when we check in with our people regularly to see how their experiences align with those values. We also need to encourage people to have healthy boundaries between work and their time outside of work hours. When an organization fails to recognize that the physical, emotional, and mental health of their employees directly impacts their performance and morale, the organization is setting themselves up for frustration and disappointment. Our society places a high value on production, but we need to remember that our people are not machines; they are people.

    How do we measure culture? This can be tricky, but we have to find a way to check in with our people to see if the culture we’re trying to uphold is truly aligned with the experience of our people. The fact of the matter is that for better or for worse, not everyone at work is experiencing the workplace the way you are, so we need to ask them! We need to try to close the gap between the aspirations we have for our culture and the actual experience people have when they come to work. Using various surveys and resources can help us gain clarity on what we’re doing well and and where we’re missing the mark. Ultimately, we need to allow and provide the space for people to be truly honest and provide feedback that will help us improve. If we’re not actively creating and upholding an environment that supports psychological safety, our team will not provide honest feedback and this will kill any growth potential moving forward.

    Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

    Peter Drucker

    While we hope people join our team because they care about the work we are doing, we’ve learned from Marcus Buckingham that people don’t actually care about where they work once they are there, but they do care about the team they are on and how working with that team impacts their day to day experience at work. If we’re looking to reduce turnover and retain institutional knowledge, we have to create a culture that fosters healthy teams and leaders. A healthy organization will prioritize placing the right leader at the helm for each team. If there is a lot of turnover on a specific team, it may be time to reconsider who is at the helm. It’s likely that this person will have more success in a different role. When you have a team that works really well together, it’s worth digging in to find out what it is that their leader does that enables them to work so well together.

    As we build this healthy culture and as we build our team, we need to keep in mind that top talent tends to seek out organizations with strong workplace cultures that prioritize employee well-being and growth opportunities. A diverse and inclusive workplace culture encourages creativity and innovation by fostering a safe environment for employees to share ideas, take risks, and challenge the status quo. When employees feel respected and valued for their contributions, they are more likely to contribute unique perspectives and solutions to complex problems. Again, we are responsible for creating psychological safety for everyone within the organization. By embracing diversity of thought and fostering a culture of experimentation, organizations can drive innovation and maintain a competitive edge in their industry.

    To explore this topic more, check out our conversations on healthy workplaces over on our YouTube channel. If you’re looking to dive into a book, check these out:

    Make Work Healthy

    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

    Dare to Lead

    Photo of Laura Sue Johnson

    Written by Laura Sue Johnson