With many variables at play when it comes to our wellbeing at work, many businesses oversee the importance of company culture. Yet as the largest aspect in an organisation well within our control, we look at its importance on the welfare of your workforce.
Creating the foundation of your organisation, the culture you build encompasses shared values beliefs, attitudes and standards that characterise a business and its employees.
Often, company culture influences a business goals, strategies, structure, behaviours and its approaches to the external world, while along with it connecting its employees which is where pitfalls occur. We will discuss this later. Most importantly, it defines how employees feel in their work environment which can impact their mental health and overall wellbeing.
What Are the Benefits of a Company Culture?
Workplace culture is important because it promotes a happy environment. A happy culture is just as important as your business needs because employees who feel comfortable and respected are more likely to perform better.
Workplace culture is a two-way street. It strengthens or undermines a business’s beliefs and ethos far more than a lot of company’s realise. Surveys present 88% of employees believe a solid workplace culture is imperative to the success of an organisation.
By creating a culture where employees feel valued, an organisation can often see improvements in productivity, innovation, financial performance, and reductions in absenteeism and turnover. Furthermore you’re reducing anxiety, whilst improving the lifestyle, and self belief of individuals both in and out of work.
In contrast, in organisations with a culture where employees feel disrespected, ignored and undervalued, they are more likely to be demotivated, dissatisfied and potentially leave their jobs altogether. Poor company culture can sabotage even the most well-designed employee wellbeing strategies.
What Does Positive Company Culture Need?
A wellbeing strategy in itself, with all of the standard features such as EAPs, occupational health services, good nutritional options and fitness programs, will only be truly effective if it is aligned with the culture of the organisation.
The problem is that many businesses overlook the cultural dimension when they introduce wellbeing programmes and their organisational environment does not support its success. In businesses implementing wellbeing strategies most effectively, the various components of organisational culture, the policies and procedures, the line manager behaviours, leadership priorities and even company values, all in their different ways support and reinforce their wellbeing strategy.
Here are some common signs of a positive company culture that promotes wellbeing:
- High tenure
- Clear mission and values
- Leaders are visible and accessible
- A diverse workforce
- Employees are not just colleagues, but friends
- There is high workplace involvement
- Transparency across the business
- No office politics
- Continuous learning and development opportunities
- Employees are celebrated and recognised for their achievements
- Working environment is comfortable
How to Create a Company Culture That Prioritises Employee Health and Wellbeing
Observe The Current Culture
First understand the existing workplace culture. Once immersed in it, does it relate to employee wellbeing?
To determine how the current culture supports or discourages optimal employee wellbeing you need to consider things like; 24/7/365 availability, manager support, taking breaks, and paying below living wages.
Capturing data is useful for leaders so they can draw a link between data based facts, either departmental or demographical, with higher levels of absenteeism. You could conduct surveys to determine the data or create focus groups and in-depth discussions throughout the organisation to hear, first-hand, from employees what they need and want.
Make the data speak for itself, once leaders see the benefits in having a defined focus on wellbeing you won’t need to be subjective.
Evaluate Managers On How They Support Their Teams
Previously we mentioned that employee wellbeing must become the core value that infuses all organisational procedures, policies, leadership traits and even how managers and leaders are evaluated.
Begin by making changes that showing the business is taking action to improve employee wellbeing. This will be both recognised and rewarded.
As the saying goes, people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. Supportive cultures exist with emotionally intelligent managers who can lead by example to elevate a stigmatised notion surrounding mental health. So make sure your managers understand their role to support their people and that they are provided with the resources and training to do this effectively. Your leaders must set an example for the rest of the organisation.
Create An Open and Supportive Work Environment
Working in an environment where we feel supported and free to be ourselves often leads us to having higher motivation and productivity.
It’s easy to create this kind of environment by acknowledging each individual as a whole person (not just their work self), celebrating their successes, and recognising their achievements. Meetings, bulletins and newsletters are all great ways to deliver positive messages across the business and these can easily be personalised and tailored for your business values and mission.
Once employees are comfortable in their working environment they will feel that they can openly speak about mental health and wellbeing; enabling you to better support them at work as well as creating an enjoyable and supportive atmosphere for your employees. Moreover, by encouraging open communication you are helping employees see that you take their concerns seriously and will do your best to action solutions. The more you listen to your employees, the more understanding and support you can provide.
Focus On The Value Of Employees
Getting to know employees and understanding their attitudes, behaviours and needs is essential to creating a strategy that works. Employers who understand their employees’ health risks are more likely to succeed in creating a positive wellbeing culture that works both on an individual basis, and is aligned with business objectives.
Where views and opinions may be anecdotal, consider running a short online survey to obtain accurate data or use your available data to support this.
For example, a detailed absence record can help to identify any trends making it easier to tackle underlying issues. These may reveal that sickness absence is more prevalent in some areas of the business than others, or deliver a picture showing that peak work periods coincide with heightened absence levels, which could be related to increased stress.
Whereas an increase in anxiety, heightened low mood or low self belief can all indicate an issue in the overall wellbeing of your employees. Look to the areas that lack and align benefits to suit; gym passes, yoga at lunch, and cycle to work schemes might play a significant part in attracting new talent however if they don’t support your staff’s wellbeing they aren’t cost-effective.
Give Your Employees a Voice
Enabling employees to share their views and feedback can cultivate a positive culture of inclusion, empowerment and a strong sense of being valued. By involving workers and allowing them to have a say in their work environment enhances feelings of goodwill and trust towards the employer. This could range from talking about creative ideas, professional development or getting involved in local volunteering initiatives.
Moreover, providing multi-faceted channels for idea generation and feedback forums can enrich the work environment and enhance creativity and wellbeing.
Employees’ sense of personal responsibility, accountability and loyalty can grow within cultures where consistent two-way communication is encouraged and promoted. Not to mention this breaks down the barriers between the employer and their employees.