Building a Positive Company Culture – 3 Essentials that REALLY move the needle

Wellness programs, in-house massages, unlimited free food or even a complete office refurbishment … today, we find more and more companies coming up with all kinds of new trend-chasing initiatives, all of them having to meet but one requirement: the fancier, the better! These investments tend to be made with a view to attract and retain unique talent and skilled workers. And, indeed, building a positive workplace culture is absolutely key if that is the purpose of the exercise.

Yet, behind the scenes, I find myself wondering: what about the long term effect of these investments? At this rate, soon every organisation will be offering these kinds of fancy benefits. And then what? Because once that is the case, the question arises as to whether these initiatives will still truly make a difference and, in effect, move the needle when it comes to creating a motivating workplace where people continue to thrive?

I reckon we can already get a glimpse of the answer to this question if we carefully scan our contemporary compensation and benefits landscape. In the course of the last 5 years, a lot of companies went out of their way to optimise and enlarge their employees’ wage packages, much in the same way as the investments that are nowadays made in those fancy initiatives.

What we see in this compensation and benefits landscape, however, is not in the slightest what we initially expected to see!

What we expected to see was a league of engaged employees, who were motivated to push their limits. What we – in all reality – see is that we have created a league of cautious employees who have started to behave in an almost prisoner-like way: they conform and don’t dare to stick their neck out, because they are afraid of losing all their beloved benefits.

Where are we going wrong?
Where is our blind spot?

If you ask me, the answer here lies in the common misconception of what it supposedly takes to build a strong and positive company culture.

There seems to be a trend of relying on a predominantly materialistic approach to creating supposedly happy employees. Yet 25 years of experience in the field of recognition have taught me that improving your company culture is – above all – a matter of sheer trust. Indeed, a strong workplace culture is first and foremost built on a fundament of open dialogue, transparency and connection.

That is why, as an employer, it is so crucial to provide a safe environment for your employees – one in which solid standards are set and everyone walks their talk. Because if employers and managers practice what they preach, their people are bound to follow suit!

Based on Arteel’s expertise, I summarised here below 3 essentials which, when applied correctly, WILL move the needle very quickly and skyrocket any company culture!

1. The importance of alignment

It all starts with creating a clear vision on where you want your company to be headed and how you want it to help make the world a better place. People – and especially our millennial generation – need to feel a deep connection with the organisation they work for. They need to feel aligned with the organisation’s reason for being and its core values. They need to feel a strong sense of belonging. They need to feel they are contributing to the company’s purpose in a meaningful way. In other words, you have to make sure your employees feel unquestionably aligned with your company purpose and values! That being said, I can not tell you how often I encounter leaders and managers who, when I ask them to articulate their company mission or values, simply fall silent. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the number one thing so many companies struggle with, is getting their purpose and values imprinted in their employees’ DNA. That is why – to initiate and accelerate this vital proces – I recommend empowering every employee in the company to take part in it. Provide for a platform upon which every employee is given the opportunity to recognise his or her peers when noticing positive behaviour that is in line with the company purpose and/or values. By introducing this new approach, you will be surprised to find how quickly and efficiently the process of ‘living the company values’ is enhanced.

Find out more about this speciality of ours on RecognizePeers.com

2. The importance of social connection

In this digital day and age, we often forget that human beings are inherently social creatures – people thrive on feeling connected! A sense of social connectivity activates the production of the “happiness hormone” oxytocin and we are wired to experience it as deeply rewarding. That is why, when a person feels truly connected and has a sense of belonging, he or she will be twice as likely to enjoy good health. Good health entails more energy, and the more energy we experience, the higher the mountains we can move. The opposite, however, is equally true. As a matter of fact, a lack of social relationships at work constitutes a main contributing factor to why people fall ill or slip into a depression. Research has even shown that experiencing social connection and a sense of belonging is more important to our health than the diet we eat and – inversely – a lack thereof creates a greater overall risk to our health than smoking or drinking does. So connecting people socially on the work floor is bound to create a much bigger bang for the company than all of those earlier-mentioned trend-chasing initiatives ever could!

Curious to put this to the test? Simply contact us by phone on +32 16 499 960 to ask for our top 5 tips to increase social connectivity in the workplace.

3. The importance of the human touch factor

One of the greatest gifts we can give our employees is the gift of appreciation, compassion and encouragement.

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody – I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat” – Mother Theresa

Up to 75% of people report that the most stressful part of their job is their interaction with their immediate supervisor. What a shocking eye opener! This entails that tremendous amounts of stress stem from people going through their days with a feeling of not being appreciated for who they are and what they do. So how about if we simply made the effort to truly care about the people whose lives we are privileged to lead, and send them home in the evening feeling respected and valued? Imagine what a difference that would make! Not only would it improve our employees’ quality of life, it would equally positively impact the company’s financial results by reducing the health costs that arise from absenteeism. Not to mention the far more positive impression left on customers and all the benefits that would flow from that! Unfortunately, what I have noticed time after time in the course of my career, is that more often than not people struggle to give recognition. Somehow, the act of recognising and expressing their appreciation makes them feel very uncomfortable.  And they cope by doing nothing, rather than running the risk of losing face. That is a problem, however, because if employees feel they are mere meaningless numbers instead of valued individuals, their work is unlikely to matter to them much. As a result, chances are that it won’t take long before they start looking for a job that feels more fulfilling and interesting to them. And the company is left looking for yet another employee to fill the gap… Luckily, experience has taught me that there is an easy and accessible way to start turning this tide!  Simply begin by adhering importance to the more ‘formal’  occasions upon which employees can be recognised. I hereby think of years of service, on-boarding, safety milestones, other special achievements or family moments such as a wedding or a baby shower. Letting people know they are important and cared-for, as well as increasing the number of moments of connection, are two of the most important components of a thriving company culture. On top of that, honouring wins and milestones improves the in-house morale in a significant way, something which is always a bonus!

Discover how companies such as Deloitte and Nike increased their human touch factor simply by restructuring their recognition approach via an email on info@arteel.co.uk.

Conclusion

A positive workplace culture makes for a world of difference when it comes to attracting and retaining skilled and talented workers, increased levels of productivity and an improved in-house morale. And we guarantee you that if you put the above 3 simple rules to the test in your very own workplace in a consistent way, you are bound to be surprised by how quickly you will able to move the needle – without spending too much money or time.

Good luck!

Nathalie Arteel
Recognition & Motiviation Expert
Leading Angel Arteel Group