Culture, like the wind, is invisible, but its effect can be most felt. When it is in your favor, it offers smooth sailing. But when it is against you, it turns things difficult.
When organizations try to become innovative and adaptive, cultural change is one of the most important elements in the transformation. Innovation demands new behavioral patterns from leaders and employees that are different from the established corporate cultures as they focus on operational efficiency.
Change in work culture is a collective phenomenon of habits and hearts.
Impact of Covid 19 on Work Culture:
Covid-19, the global pandemic, has created a great impact on all industries across the world. Ecological economics is subjected to disquietude due to its presence. The business world has shaken up from the roots due to the downfalls of national economies.
To counterbalance the scenario, the organizations are coming up with new policies to retain the employees and reduce their impact on wage policies. At this point, the employees also have to be productive and supportive in welcoming the new policies. To normalize things, there is a huge need for change in work culture.
Post-Covid, it is evident that we will be entering into a new world where small offices will emerge in your houses. The residentials will have future spaces known as work from home cabins/ min offices. All the organizations shall prepare themselves for such work culture by establishing innovative policies to motivate employees to work from home.
In cases even when the offices are re-opened, the culture shall be welcoming for the employees to get rid of their habituation of comfort.
How does an average human react to workplace culture?
Changing the work culture is the most laborious task to do, as it involves change. Human nature instinctively is known for rejecting/repelling all sorts of changes, even when they are positive. Change creates fear and anxiety in people.
When they hear of change - they automatically think of things like 'Will I have the same comfort/power under the new rules?", "Is this change secure?", and "Will the new way leads to frustration in my life?". To appease the workers, an organization has to be cunning about their approach to creating a new work culture.
For organizations to become innovative in the competitive world, culture change is important. Innovation is known for demanding new and untapped behaviors from the team members even when they go against the corporate cultures while contributing towards efficiency and excellence.
Cultural change cannot be achieved through decree. It shall be indulged in the hearts of each team member and their shared habits of how things are done. Even as an authority, someone can only demand concurrence, but they can't force optimism.
Transformation is a many-day process:
Any work culture can't be changed over the night. Abolishing the already established behaviors that are deeply rooted in people will take time. In order to make the employees understand your vision, it requires a lot of time to know what motivates them to change.
Organizational culture is a set of different individual cultures, and therefore it is fundamentally wrong to completely change it. Instead of opting to completely make it something else, one shall enhance the best characteristics while retaining the values and the purpose of the company.
The problem is a lot of people don't even understand how they fit into the company's mission, which is why they shall be given time to contemplate the transformation. It is only after each individual attains a sense of identity in the new culture; the transformation is entirely done.
Approaching at the root level:
When your goal is to change the work culture of a business, you should narrow down the focus to a granular level. It is important to start the change with individuals in the organization. If the people in the company don't change, the company doesn't change as well.
You will realize that the change is not difficult for people, but sustaining the change is. The greatest challenge is the fact that anyone who tries to eliminate unwanted behavior is aware of the truth. Knowing that change occurs at the individual level and sustaining the change will allow a long term success in the work culture implementation.
Brand, reputation, and preposition:
Employee value proposition affects the employer's brand and reputation, which is why it is important to keep it positive. The proposition shall be captured through unbiased research and not through internal surveys or feedback.
When you create a proposition that your employees appreciate, they will be willing to become your ambassadors. Your brand is what you have been known for, which is in the control of your employees.
To create a brand that attracts quality, you need a work culture that inspires and impresses people. When you can interpret the motivational drivers of your employees, you can connect them with your mission to arrive at workplace excellence.
Creating a sustainable organizational culture is not a small feat. It is no lesser than an astronomical challenge or robot science. To make things easier, here are 10 different ideas that you can incorporate in changing the contemporary work culture of your company:
10 Different Ideas to Incorporate While Changing Workplace Culture:
#1 Use motivation theory at human level:
Human beings are different from one another. A one-for-all motivation theory can’t be used to motivation everyone. It is important to not treat every employee as a rat in the race, when you want to make a considerable change in the work culture.
Incentives for achieving tasks have worked in the industrial age but people are not falling for them anymore. Finding the right set of motivators can only prompt the employees to invest themselves in the complicated business. If you have successfully observed the individual behavioral patterns and have come up with motivators, you can create a good work landscape.
By using motivation theory, one has to blend both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to maximize the efficiency of the employees. By learning how people are motivated, you can make an appeal to the employees knowing what motivates them the most.
#2 Create connectedness and loyalty:
Increasing trust and loyalty among the employees can change the work culture. A manager shall analyze and offer long term investments to the employees in the form of health benefits, education, training, professional development, and career paths.
In case if you want to create a long-lasting impact, you shall also invest both time and effort in the personal growth and well being of the employees. By showing goodwill and recognizing their contribution, the employees will be highly engaged in the organization, resulting in enhanced connectedness.
#3 Communication is the key:
Employees work well when they know how they align with the goals and objectives of the organization. In order to make it happen, it is important to communicate effectively. Whenever you are hiring a new employee, make sure that you’re clear about the company’s mission and vision to them.
Conduct annual meetings and communicate what you’re expecting from the employees, in detail. Develop campaigns where the employees reinforce the expectations through constant messaging by helping them understand the roles and responsibilities of each person.
#4 Hire and Fire the right people:
The biggest key of changing the work environment is getting rid of the toxic people and boarding the right talent. This seems like a simple thing, but is quite difficult to implement. The first step of this procedure is to sit down and list all the existing employees to understand who shall be fired.
If an employee is lazy, unwilling to change, fails to own his mistakes and can’t accept constructive criticism; he/she is a red flag to your organization. While letting such employees go, make sure that you have their replacements before you fire them.
The newcomers shall align with the organizational values, focus on the big picture of the organization, and not dwell on the insignificant little things.
#5 Assign short term goals:
A lot us commit them the mistake of patiently waiting for the long term goal to be accomplished, without acting on it from time to time. Any purpose can only be implemented if it is broken down into short term goals.
If you are looking for a steady change, gather the team, and develop a list of tangible changes that you want to see in this culture. By developing timetables for these goals, you can prompt the employees to perform better. Examples of short-term goals include nurturing creativity, assigning responsibilities, and attaching accountability.
With short term goals, you can also practice changes, one at a time instead of being consumed between them. Focusing on lower lever employees and encouraging them to be innovative can help them push their limits towards maintaining the sustainability of the organization.
#6 Provide personal inspiration:
When offered with individual inspiration, the human behaviors shape up differently as you get into their heart. Motivation is often driven by establishing a connection to the organization where the employee must be felt that he/she is involved in challenging and meaningful work.
However, not all work can keep the employee happy. Some just create a sense of purpose and value in them. In such cases, the employees need something else than just being involved in things that are bigger than them.
By offering them personal inducement, you can make them think beyond themselves, their social circles, and their organizational responsibilities.
#7 Make good use of incentives:
Organizational motivation is a vast subject to deal with. It is a complex set of human behavior, external factors, co-existence, and teamwork. Not every individual responds the same way to generic motivators.
For example, when a team is given incentives, including money, vouchers, pizza, and compliments, the group that is offered cash performed the worst. The team that is given the compliments resulted in the highest performance.
Through this experiment, it became evident that people are not always motivated by money and it alone. In order to shape their behavior, various incentives shall be provided based on how long they would last. It is always advised to use a blend of different incentives to raise engagement levels.
The more the company offers, the harder the employees will work to endure their loyalty.
#8 Reward desirable behaviors:
Rewards are known for promoting good behaviors. When you promote the star performers with benefits, others are emulated as well. Consider people who are taking multiple steps to fulfill the objective of the organization within their roles.
These people are to be recognized for their jobs while giving them a sense of accomplishment and ownership. After being recognized, people tend to work double folded times by contributing to the values of the organization.
#9 Listen to your employees:
Regardless of how well you know your employees, there’s always something that you need to learn about them. It is important to ask how they’re feeling, from time to time. There is a huge gap between the employees and the executive team in the organizations, as it is unrealistic to assume that everyone is on the same page.
Give your employees a chance to talk and discuss the work culture with them. Ask them what they want to change within the existing paradigm. Ask them what they like, what is holding them back, and what would make them accomplish more.
After listening to them, juxtapose all the preferences and make the necessary changes out of their valuable insights by working on the ground level.
#10 Follow through the promises:
To maintain the sustainability in work culture, one has to set boundaries and execute the promises. For example, if the tardiness of a employee has become a problem, you can threaten to dock pay whenever the employees are late.
If you have said it out, it is important that you follow it through. If you have promised to reward the employees with extra day off once in a month of being on time, you should implement it as well. Whether it’s a positive or negative reinforcement, it is important to follow through them.
7 Ways to change the work life after Covid 19:
When it comes to balancing work life, talking, and implementing them are two different things. In the process of balancing working life, personal life almost becomes an empty promise. During the work from home culture during Covid-19, things have started to change.
The time at home has allowed people to design their lives. People are now able to start early, take longer lunches, take 15 mins breaks, and finish early. After being habituated to such a lifestyle for months, going back to the office might seem extremely difficult.
To make things easier for the employees; these are 10 things that one must consider for building perfect work-life balance:
#1 Balancing productivity and engagement:
Your employees shall be schooled on the work-life balance if you want to change the work culture. Employees are more productive in office when they are given adequate time out of the office. By giving them and their ideas breathing space, you can increase their individual productivity. Make sure that there are no longer work hours.
When worked for long, employees tend to feel irritable and anxious. To reduce those feelings and to foster positive relationships, teams shall be given leisure periods. When people are happier and fulfilled, your people will stay longer with you.
Make them feel that they are achieving things instead of being burned out. Encouraging the work-life balance will help people feel positive as it is the key to better performance and better retention.
By genuinely promoting the work-life balance, you are integrally promoting your employer brand as well. By making your brand competitive, you will attract talented people, easier and faster.
Work-life balance in an organization will create an accessible environment for people whom you might have alienated. As the best people are the ones that don’t like 9-5 work hours, push back the employees who are stressed and you will have a good arsenal at your hands.
#2 Preach and Practice:
What HR does behind the scenes to increase the organization's productivity is often invisible and under-appreciated. But what you practice after you enter the office and before you leave the office does get noticed.
Even when you tell the employees to leave at 5:30 PM with a full day allowance, they will not leave the office if you are staying till 8 PM. Your behavior is known for setting an expectation even when you do not intend it to be.
So, you cannot build a work culture with balance without living it yourself. Make sure that you practice everything that you have been preaching.
#3 Reinforce preferable behaviors:
If an employee has exhibited an individual behavior that benefitted the organization, try adapting it. For example, most of the organizations offer to auto-delete the employees' emails when they are on vacation so that they do not have to get back to tons of work.
The empty box will relieve them. In emergencies, you can limit the vacation days that the employees can rollover. You can also lock the office on the weekends unless there's a proper justification for the employees to turn up.
When such nuances of work-life balance matter to you, your work culture will be thousands folded times, attractive.
#4 Prioritize Work-life balance:
To improve work culture, make work-life balance a strategic priority, and not just a bullet point lost somewhere on the HR agenda. For most businesses, it can create a major cultural change. If it requires buying support from the executive team, do that to drive the change from the top.
A C-suite can power the initiative to cement the change in work culture while you stand against it and not just agree with it.
#5 Train the managers to spot and act:
Promoting the work culture is not enough since its new. You must be sure that the employees are willing to take up the change. If they are not, it would just be like bringing new muffins to the office on a day when no one turned up.
You have not only wasted time baking the muffins, but people are somewhere still hungry. To avoid that, train the managers on spotting the burnouts and the disadvantages of the work culture. Let them take meaningful actions to eliminate these burnouts.
For example, if someone isn’t performing well because of the lock down, you can send him/her on a mental health day off. As HR can’t be doing all of these, you have to outsource managers who interact with their respective teams, every day.
#6 Set realistic expectations:
You won’t be able to create a new work culture if you don’t define what kind of behaviors it requires. For some organizations, work culture is all about encouraging vacations. By vacations, we mean actual vacations where you don’t have to worry about the calls or the emails at the end of the day.
For other organizations, it can be work from home initiatives, job sharing hours, and flexible times. Despite what type it is, your aim is to change the ‘we want better culture’ to ‘ we have a better culture if we do x’ so that employees know what x is, and why they should do x.
#7 Create space for individuality:
With rigid rules, comes uninterested behavior. At times, we think that restricting after-work emails and forcing strict office hours are the best routes to improved work culture. They are not. The ideas of enforcement can create odds with the premise of work-life balance.
Work culture is not always about encouraging the employees to take time off. It is complex than that. It is about giving the employees the space for their own individuality so that they can bring more to the desk whenever they come.
At its heart, work culture shall be about individualism and flexibility. If an employee loves taking 10 minutes to clear the inbox at night, another employee might like to get to the office early. The best work culture is the one that recognizes their preferences and creates space for all of them while promoting balanced behavior.
That being said, employees shall be given some time to adapt to the new work environment. They will need help to overcome their old habits and think differently about the new workplace culture. As much as work culture sounds like a buzzword, it is not.
It is an important part of the organization, and it manifests at every level of the business from the head to the new employees. By addressing all the touch points through the employee life cycle to set, establish, and grow, the suitable workplace culture can help in the tremendous progress of the organization.