A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have.
5 min read
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Whether you’re running an early-stage startup or a fast-growing company, every organization has a culture. And it can determine whether your business succeeds or fails.
Your company’s culture comprises the actual work environment for your team and the standards everyone is held to. It also dictates how colleagues interact and communicate and the values and beliefs of your team. In fact, one survey shows that 86 percent of employees believe their company’s culture influences how productive they are.
No wonder Arianna Huffington has described corporate culture as "a company's immune system."
"Ultimately," she says, "your health depends on your immune system." Here are four ways a healthy company culture boosts morale and productivity.
It makes employees happy.
A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. As the research team states, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
If you have employees who dread coming into work and are spending more time looking at the clock than working, how productive do you really think they are? What’s more, happier employees tend to work better with others, solve problems instead of complain about them and make fewer mistakes. They also have more energy and motivation, which helps them learn faster and make better decisions.
It promotes collaboration and stronger relationships.
A healthy and positive company culture encourages your teammates to get to know one another. That friendly chatter eventually leads people to feel comfortable enough to share advice, opinions and ideas.
When there’s a large project looming, your team members will be able to work together faster and more efficiently because they know how to communicate. More importantly, this leads to your team building friendships — which has been found to increase productivity and engagement.
“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organization,” says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who co-authored "The Progress Principle."
It inspires creativity.
Let’s say that an employee or colleague comes to you with a suggestion. If you immediately dismiss her idea, do you think she’ll come to you the next time she has an "aha" moment?
Healthy company cultures encourage people to be creative through brainstorming sessions and new responsibilities. This not only gives them a chance to be heard, but it also helps them look for unique ways to solve problems.
It influences individual mindsets.
Company culture also affects how each team member views his or her individual performance. It shouldn’t comes as a surprise, then, that healthy cultures foster more high-performing team members. Aaron Schmookler, leadership coach and co-founder of TheYesWorks, a training and team-building organization, calls this positive peer pressure.
“Why do aspiring Olympians train with other aspiring Olympians?” he asks. “In part, they want the high-performance drive to rub off on them if they don’t have as much of it as they wish.” According to Schmookler, even when someone already has a high-performance mindset, she'll want to keep it and deepen it so she can keep pushing forward. Being surrounded by others pushing for greatness makes the hard work feel easy.
Schmookler also says the opposite is true.
“We’ve all heard of workplaces where a new person comes into a low-performance culture and people tell them, ‘slow down.’ ‘You’re making us look bad.’ High-performance cultures have people who instead say, ‘Pick it up. You can do it.’”
How to avoid toxicity.
There’s a strong correlation between morale and productivity. If you want your team to be more productive, you’re going to have to foster a healthy and positive work culture. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., and Kim Cameron, Ph.D., suggest in Harvard Business Review that you can achieve this by fostering social connections. Encourage your teammates to get to know each other by hosting social events or having them eat lunch together. You must also get away from your desk and have face-to-face interactions with your team.
Go out of your way to help as well. Leaders who are fair and self-sacrificing inspire employees to become more loyal and committed. If your team is swamped, step in to help. Encourage people to talk to you — don’t brush someone off when he has a problem. It gets the problem off his mind, which means he can focus on work.
A healthy culture isn't a nice-to-have but a must-have. Culture exists, whether we actively cultivate it or let it develop on its own. To get the most productivity you can, make sure to build an environment where people feel respected and inspired. It will not only make your employees happier, but it will also fuel high-quality work.