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Good Workplace Culture Creates Fertile Soil

The workplace culture can be compared to the soil that forms the conditions for growth and harvest. Fertile soil can have a positive effect on staff and workplaces, but bad soil can affect their well-being and performance.

Much has been written about the effects and characteristics of culture over the years, and various theories have been put forward to increase understanding of the phenomenon to which we all belong. There is some consensus that it is part of human nature to perceive and respond to a culture, even to be attracted to it. Culture unites individuals and can have a lasting effect on the attitudes and behavior of those who belong to it, as it is long-lived and resilient in nature.

Groysberg, B., Jeremiah, l., Jesse, P., and Yo-Jud, C.

Workplace culture includes the values, norms and entrenched ideas that affect both the staff and the activities that take place there. It can be compared to the soil that forms the conditions for growth and harvest. Fertile ground can have a positive effect on staff and workplaces, but bad soil can affect their well-being and performance.

Good Workplace Culture Increases Satisfaction and Improves Performance

The workplace culture can be strong, weak, positive or negative, depending on the impact it has on employees and the workplace as a whole. It can influence how employees make decisions and acquire new knowledge, and can therefore increase the competitive advantage of workplaces and companies.

Chatterjee, A., Pereira, A. and Bates, R. (2018)

Impact of individual perception of organizational culture on the learning transfer environment. International Journal of Training and Development, 22, 15-33.

If employees feel comfortable in the culture that prevails in the workplace and it is in accordance with the workplace’s policy, it can result in happier employees and better overall performance. A good workplace culture is a prerequisite for maintaining and promoting safe and healthy communication in the workplace, as it sets certain standards for what is expected of employees and how it is appropriate to behave and communicate with others.

Negative Workplace Culture Creates Problems

Serious problems such as bullying, gender-based harassment, violence, sexual harassment, stress and burnout are still part of the reality we face in the work environment and can be the result of a negative workplace culture. In addition, constant change is part of the reality of many workplaces, which repeatedly tests the endurance of employee collaboration.  It can be difficult to understand the impact that workplace culture has on the work environment because it does not only include the characteristics that are on the surface and can be seen, for example, in behavior, demeanor and decision-making. Workplace culture also includes people’s experiences and the emotions that can simmer beneath the surface and are more difficult to identify. It sets out specific standards for the appropriate expression of emotions in the workplace and creates a channel for them.

Negative emotions and unspoken words that are left to fester beneath the surface can create problems that workplaces have to deal with again and again.  Because as nature itself shows us with the upwelling of magma that has lain beneath the earth’s crust for a long time, negative emotions can cause unrest or erupt in those places that cause harm to others.  Employees’ negative emotions can thus lead to a toxic workplace culture, while positive emotions contribute to the resilience of employees and build a positive workplace culture.

Hartmann, S, Weiss, M, Hoegl, M, Carmeli, A.

How does an emotional culture of joy cultivate team resilience? A sociocognitive perspective. J Organ Behav. 2021; 42: 313– 331.

Assessment of the Prevailing Culture

In order to assess the status of the prevailing culture and its impact on the work environment, workplaces can use both formal and informal surveys. Their results can provide clues about the values and norms that people are guided by in the workplace and also shed light on what the eyes and ears have difficulty sensing, such as the well-being and feelings of employees.  Some workplaces put a lot of effort into examining employees’ feelings and their impact on the work environment, and some have even gone so far as to measure employees’ well-being after each working day.

Barsade, s., & O´neill, A. O. (2016).

Manage Your Emotional Culture. Harvard Business Review, 55-66.

No matter which way workplaces choose to go when it comes to looking at workplace culture, they must always keep in mind what is being measured, for what purpose and in what way the results should be used so that they contribute to the development of a safe and healthy workplace culture in collaboration with employees.

Collaboration is Key

A good workplace culture must take into account the diversity that is reflected in the different backgrounds of employees, as well as framing the good and safe values that lead the way in the reality of constant change and new challenges.

Creating a good workplace culture requires perseverance and co-operation from everyone involved. It is not enough to go full steam ahead if no one follows, a policy change that goes against the existing culture in the workplace will not last long, except with the participation of employees.

Groysberg, B., Jeremiah, l., Jesse, P., and Yo-Jud, C.

Discussions about the prevailing workplace culture and the changes that it is desirable to establish are a prerequisite for creating a common understanding and promoting employee participation in the change process.  This is a time-consuming task and requires visible support from management, who must never lose sight of the policies that it has been agreed to change.

Although the responsibility is always the employer’s, it requires a joint effort by all employees to create a workplace where people feel comfortable and mutual respect and constructive communication are the guiding principles. The role of managers is very important in this context, as it often falls on their shoulders to bring this responsibility of employers into the workplace. Their knowledge and ability to set a good example and set clear standards that people can support can not be underestimated.

Hartmann, S, Weiss, M, Hoegl, M, Carmeli A.

How does an emotional culture of joy cultivate team resilience? A sociocognitive perspective. J Organ Behav. 2021; 42: 313– 331.

When all is said and done, the task that workplaces face is neither simple nor insurmountable, but it substantial and it is the only way forward.  The journey requires collaboration at all levels, from governments, regulators, employers and managers to the general public, so that it results in a holistic approach to the work environment that is guided by rights, responsibilities, roles and prevention.

International labour office. (2013)

BUILDING  A PREVENTATIVE  SAFETY AND HEALTH  CULTURE: A guide to the Occupational Safety and Health Convention,  1981 (No. 155), its 2002 Protocol and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187).

Ultimately, everyone needs to contribute to creating a workplace culture that strengthens the foundations of a good social work environment and paves the way for a prosperous future that keeps everyone safe.