When you think of work culture, you either fall into the glass half full or glass half-empty category. The glass half-full pictures perfect harmony between different values and personalities creating a job environment of growth and innovation. While the glass half-empty could be described as Meryl Streeps’ perfectly arched eyebrow from The Devil Wears Prada (terrifying, we know). But we’re here to remind you that work culture is always in flux because it requires work from all involved, and that means you too. Where do you start to add your contribution? Why is it important that you try to foster a positive work culture? With the epidemic shifting our everyday behaviours and expectations, the importance of having a good work culture is top of everyone’s mind as virtual working becomes the norm. Ensuring a healthy work environment, no matter the circumstances, starts with you and is worth the undertaking as the benefits play out in productivity, creativity, and stronger professional relationships.
The root of a positive work culture always starts with people and how to understand the different personality types that come together. Before you jump down the rabbit hole, Michael Annett, Managing Director at Pillars of Positivity, points out the first personality type to decode is yourself. No matter which role you find yourself in, you’re bound to interact with colleagues who have different ways of doing things than you’re used to. Getting to know your personality type instinctually well allows you to assess how to best work with others. What are some qualities of your personality that come out in your business etiquette? Is email your preferred method of communication? Do you find SCRUM meetings your jam to get the week started? How is that going to mesh with a co-worker?
There are many ways to figure this out and Michael Annett refers to the classic Myers-Briggs personality types which are useful in determining all aspects of your personality both in work and personal bubbles. There are other simpler methods of course. (Give us a piece of paper and pen any day.) Once you understand yourself better, both your strengths and weaknesses, then it’s time to take stock of your coworkers’ personality types.
Your method of figuring this out depends on your personality. Are you the observant type? Or are you someone who doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions? All these interactions, big and small, set up a rhythm between you and your colleagues. Invest time to get to know them and vice versa. There may be a few hiccups but by understanding yourself and how others work, you’ll find new ways to address things and solve any issues that may arise. It’s important to keep in mind that through these efforts, work efficiency transforms to work productivity. If everyone enjoys working together, then that shows in the work.
Your interactions with others on a quick everyday basis will be much better when you understand how others work. —Michael Annett
One perk of establishing a positive work culture is a merry-go-round of effective teamwork and employee loyalty. They go hand in hand. In a positive work culture, everyone working together relies on each other to get the job done. There’s a level of trust between not only colleagues but across teams. What are silos? You don’t need to know; they don’t exist in positive work culture. No one is left behind here. Everyone knows their part in the grand scheme of things and is willing to push forward to deliver the best results even when conditions change. That means creativity in solutions, new processes, or ideas. Everyone wins when you’re working together. These values are the framework of positive work culture. When you’re surrounded by that kind of enthusiasm and belief system, your mindset will follow suit.
Plus, you’ll achieve a level of job satisfaction that leads naturally to employee loyalty. Knowing you work in an environment that is supportive and allows you to do the best work possible will make you want to stay put to develop further. You’ll find yourself sharing with others what you’ve accomplished, what growing pains you’ve had and what you’re excited for in the future. All of that influences your work culture and it goes round and round, gaining momentum each time. After all, a company’s best advocate will always be a happy employee and it starts with a positive work culture.
When there’s a positive work culture in place, the stress level of employees is bound to go down. Work stress occurs in even the best of work environments, but a positive work culture will aim to keep this to a minimum. The measures might differ from company to company but it’s all about open communication so that employees feel safe expressing themselves in their work environment. Sure, sometimes stressful situations lead to great performance with some quick thinking but that’s not a state of mind that’s recommended for the long term. You run the risk of burning out, a term that describes overworked and stressed employee’s performance diminishing. That’s not fair to anyone involved.
That’s where “work-life balance” comes in; this term has been floating around for some years and is especially relevant today. The CCOHS defines work/life balance as either the pressure of “lacking time and scheduling conflicts” and/or “feeling overwhelmed, overloaded or stressed by the pressures of multiple roles.” With work and home boundaries blurred so closely together, many Canadian work cultures have had to adjust big time to ensure their employees’ wellbeing and stress levels. Like everything else with work culture, it’s a collective effort. Both sides need to be open in communicating expectations and possible solutions or they run the risk of facing a disconnect. So, if something isn’t working to reduce stress, it’s up to you to speak up to keep the positive work culture in check.
Whether you’ve been at a company for a while or are starting somewhere new, getting familiar with the established work culture means adding your own values to it, like that last pinch of salt to a recipe. You might even find some new values and methods that resonate with you to carry forward in the next stage of your career. Regardless, work cultures evolve, and so do you, so knowing how to establish a positive work culture speaks volumes of the kind of professional you are!