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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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How to Create a Workplace Culture Where People Love to Work

What does a good corporate culture mean for your organization?

This is difficult because different personalities thrive in different environments.

While interviewing a senior leader in a large CPA firm, I asked, “What do you want in your workplace culture? What causes you to stay motivated, dedicated, and committed to excellence in accounting?” 

He was honestly a little confused. He looked around his office and said that being able to come to work where he has a desk, a computer, and a door he can close when he needs quiet is perfect for him.

I asked if his co-workers affected how happy he was when he worked, and he thought about it before he answered, “Yes.” 
He said, “I really do not think about the intangibles, such as how much I like my co-workers, but I guess it does matter. I do like talking with them and I enjoy seeing them at meetings.”

Then I asked, “what do you think your people need from you for them to work at 100%?” and he struggled to answer. Now, this is a good leader who wants to be better for his people, and he wants to improve his corporate culture. He recognized that not everyone is as intrinsically motivated as he is.

Many people assume that people like to work the way they themselves like to work. If we want to be left alone, we assume that is what others want as well. That is not always the truth. In this CPA firm, not surprisingly, people needed more from their leadership and direct supervisors to be happy, inspired, and content.

 There are benefits to improving the workplace culture.

1. Less stress. A positive environment that is both safe and supportive results in less stressed employees. When people enjoy their work environment, they are more eager to get to work and do an excellent job once they are there.

2. Less absenteeism. A pleasant and enjoyable workplace results in fewer people calling in sick. How many times have people called in sick because they just do not want to go to work? When leadership is poor, employee engagement goes down and absenteeism goes up. Sick days are an expensive cost for poor leadership.

3. Greater productivity. Lower absenteeism and a happy, inspired workforce means people are getting more work accomplished. The more productive your employees are, the fewer of them you need. Greater productivity leads to lower costs and greater profits.

4. Employee satisfaction. When employees like and respect their workplace culture, their overall satisfaction increases.

5. Creativity. It is hard to be creative when your direct supervisor makes you nervous, or when you do not trust senior leadership. Creativity is the key to the success of any business. Creativity is your competitive advantage in an uncertain environment.  Whether it is developing exciting and innovative products and services, or finding new ways to decrease costs, creativity is vital.

6. Better teamwork. When everyone internalizes the company culture, it is easier to work together. Teams can accomplish more than individual employees, so teamwork is essential to the long-term success of a company. Companies with inspiring workplace cultures have great teams and great teamwork.

7. Employee retention. Companies with highly rated cultures have significantly fewer employees jumping ship. During the Great Resignation, many people left their jobs in the hopes of finding something better. Many of those people had only worked at one organization, so they did not have anything to compare it to, and many of those people, after several months of being at another organization, decided that the grass was not greener, and they wanted their original jobs back. It is easy to think that the grass is greener somewhere else when you have never been anywhere else. People with experience at a few jobs know the value of an enjoyable workplace experience.

8. Better customer service. An engaged, happy employee provides better customer service, particularly if the culture emphasizes the importance of customer relationships. My friend, Ruby Newell-Legner reminds people, “Your people will treat your customers the way you treat your people.”

Your company requires a definitive corporate environment. Leaders must proactively work to create a positive and welcoming workplace, or they risk losing talent and productivity.

If leaders are not leading their corporate culture, it becomes haphazard. The workplace culture may become driven by a few strong personalities, and not by their leadership.

 It is worth asking, “What do you want in your workplace culture?” and “How can I lead the workplace culture that I want?”


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