Gallup recently said culture in the workplace is the biggest leadership issue of our time. In fact, they have a new book coming out in May called Culture Shock, offering a solution to the problem. Gallup’s information suggests that the workforce views themselves more as independent contractors and that “it may become nearly impossible to create a culture of committed team members and powerful relationships at work.”
That’s where I have to respectfully disagree with the institution who’s workplace research is some of which I view as gospel.
You probably know by now, I have my own book, Culture Secrets: Secrets Any Leader Can Use to Build a V.A.L.U.E. Culture, set to release in April. While I was researching and writing this book, I heard from numerous leaders and employees that they are excited about being back in the workplace. While many enjoyed their time at home, and some would love to maintain a hybrid type schedule now, almost everyone told me they missed the workplace. More specifically, they missed the people and relationships.
That’s why my book focuses on the importance of building a human-centered culture. When you do, you’re setting up both the business and the employee for success.
The Workplace Has Changed
There’s no denying that the pandemic has caused us to take a closer look at how we work. It’s also shown us the importance of relationships. Research has shows that contact with our peers is not only physically beneficial to us, but also a must for mental health. Loneliness and isolation wreak havoc on humans. Building a strong workplace culture allows employees to have a sense of camaraderie and belonging. The desire to connect is without a doubt, one of the strongest human drivers.
A key component of my V.A.L.U.E. Culture formula lies in creating an atmosphere where employees feel valued for their unique strengths, talents, and personalities. This sense of value deepens the level of trust your employees feel and the security they feel in their work community. This feeling of belonging and being part of a community is one of the most basic of human needs. Once you can establish this, your employees feel included, accepted, and valued. This enriches their work experience, and you develop a loyal, engaged, high-performing team because of it.
Benefits of Building Your Culture
Still need more convincing building your culture and increasing the sense of belonging your employees feel is a great business move? Consider this…
- The feeling of belonging increases and improves performance. When an employees feels they belong, they are more productive, engaged, and motivated. They have a sense they are contributing to something larger than themselves. Work becomes more than a place; it becomes a place where they can make a meaningful and valued contribution.
- It reduces stress and burnout. People feel less overwhelmed. They have more positive relationships. These connections help reduced their overall feelings of stress.
- Feelings of belonging reduces your level of turnover. It’s much harder to walk away from a place where you feel you belong. When an employee feels they are accepted for themselves and valued for their contribution, they are less likely to be influenced or tempted by outside offers. Belonging increases loyalty which reduces turnover.
- You’ll see a boost in morale. When people view themselves as a team, they become more driven to help make sure all members of the team succeed. Teamwork and collaboration will soar when you create a sense of belonging in the workplace.
The Challenge is Real
I do agree with Gallup on the face that culture is one of the biggest challenges, and opportunities, leaders are facing today. I don’t believe culture is hard to create. It does however take an intentional effort. Those efforts don’t have to take massive budgets or a huge investment of time. Small efforts can go a long way.
For example, find ways to encourage collaboration. The more time your teams spend together, the more opportunities they have to bond and build relationships. Be open with your communications. Make sure it’s a two-way street. Employees want to feel their ideas and questions are heard as well as those of leadership. Listening is an essential skill for leaders today. Don’t be afraid to share your story with your team. Mentorship is so important. Your journey can help someone see a path to success. It also makes you more real to your team. Don’t forget to share your failures along with the successes. Some of the biggest growth lessons we have as professionals come from the fails.
The other way to grow this sense of belonging is to help people feel purpose in their work. Some people show up and just tolerate their day-to-day work experience. They know they have to work. They need the paycheck. What a depressing way to go through every week. Helping them find the purpose in their work turn showing up into a positive. Purpose is the feeling you’re not wasting your time and that your work is adding value to something that matters. With the right culture and leaders, any job can be filled with purpose. Look at how you can tweak roles or job duties to better align with an employee’s skill or interest. Look for ways to connect people to the outcome of their job. Think about it – someone in accounts payable never see the smiling customer using the product. What if you shared an email with a thank you or a success story from a customer with everyone involved in the process? You can also connect an employee’s personal goals or values with those of the organizations. This might include community, environmental, education or other goals. It’s easy to loose site of the big picture when you get bogged down in the day to day tasks. Help them see the bigger picture.
The Silver Lining
So yes, the workplace has changed over the last couple of years, but I believe it has given us a chance to focus even more on the value of relationships at work. It’s given us a chance to see what really matters to our employees – and that’s not always money. Instead, they crave relationships, inclusion, respect, and trust. Your employees want to be seen for their unique contributions. They want to feel connected to their co-workers. They want to feel supported in their daily work and in their professional development. When we do these things, it results in the feeling they are a vital piece in the success formula of your company.
When you focus on building a strong people-centered workplace culture using the V.A.L.U.E. Culture formula, you are setting your employees up to experience that feeling of belonging and as a result, your business will see improvements as well.
You can also listen to more about how I believe Gallup got it wrong by checking out this episode of The Culture Secrets Podcast.
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