In 2019’s entrepreneurial landscape, workplace culture is among the latest of focus—for good reason. From dealing with unreasonable management to experiencing the dreaded burnout, the workforce’s mental health is under siege.
And it’s costing companies a lot of money.
According to Forbes, that number translates to roughly 34% of an employee’s annual salary. To make matters worse, they also discovered that sabotages worker retention by increasing employee turnover anywhere between 20% to 50%, depending on the organization (Forbes).
Case in point: Burnout and Employee Retention.
Since disengaged, stressed employees cause corporations to lose money, it’s safe to say that happy, productive employees increase profit. Just like a toxic company culture can bring an organization down, the reverse can be a powerful tool in a business’ revenue strategy.
What causes a toxic workplace culture?
If you’ve ever had significant experience in corporate America or even other settings, you have probably had a demanding manager. The Wall Street Journal calls them “tornado bosses”—these are the managers and executives whose tyrannical attitudes overshadow every employee in the room, overlooking that many cannot match their seemingly superhuman zeal, output, or unrealistic expectations.
In a new era of what FastCompany deems as hustle porn, American white-collar employees are suffering from dangerous levels of workaholism. And who is to blame? For the most part, the job pressures that are induced by their superiors.
Some blame the rapid technological lifestyle changes, which is part of the equation. But in reality, shiny new tools to improve communication and productivity have been around for awhile (QuickFMS). If anything, our workforce is accustomed to adopting new technology to suit its companies’ ever-changing needs. What employees are notaccustomed to is negative psychological effects of being micromanaged in the workplace.
Tools that were designed to improve transparency, accountability, and productivity across the enterprise is coming under increasing scrutiny among employees across the nation. Even companies like Slack whose capabilities are cherished and show tremendous improvement in communication across enterprises comes at a high cost. Is there really such thing as a “work-life balance” as people on social media like to portray?
Speaking of social media, these corporations are threatened the most due to their history of creating, sharing, and capitalizing user data. If Cambridge Analytica wasn’t controversial enough, businesses taking extreme measures to dampen privacy scandals furthers the need for digital ethics. The federal government is in agreement too, holding companies tight under their magnifying glass right now. The greatest targets? The Famous Four of Big Tech: Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
It’s not quite 1984, but it’s pretty close with the Big Brother resemblance.
Between the unrealistic bosses, tools blurring boundaries between work and home, social media use and its growing involvement in monitoring our lives, it’s no wonder employees are stressed more than ever. Huffpost Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington famously wrote Thrive outlining her personal experience with the increasing demands to perform, in addition to the added negative effects of digital transformation occurring in the workplace.
Cultivating a healthy work culture requires a shift in values.
To solve these work toxicity issues, the shift must come from the C-suite. When executives prioritize their employees, the company culture changes entirely. It’s a transformation in values of the company, as one case study shows about analyzing Apple’s culture.
When companies put their employees first, employees tend to perform better. The World Economic Forumgathered CEOs and other executives to discuss “strategic frameworks for sustainable value creation,” citing employee happiness as one of the long-term strategies aligned with corporate performance and economic growth. In short, short-termism is not a viable tactic for profitability nor sustainable worker performance.
It’s not enough to just work at a prestigious, robust, or innovative company anymore. The way employers treat their employees is a high requirement for many Americans today, meaning Americans are demanding more ethical workspaces. Entrepreneur indicates that “nearly eight out of 10 Americans would be willing to take lower pay if they perceived their company to be “just,” according to a survey by Just Capital.
Morals. It’s about morals.
But morals alone won’t spur change from the C-suite. American financial executive Larry Fink details his roadmap and advice for corporate America in his widely-circulated, “Letter to CEOs.”
“Purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them… profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose—in fact, profits and purpose are inextricably linked,” FInk writes.
According to Fink, the world needs better leadership. That leadership is only possible when a company is aligned with its deeper purpose. Total alignment gives way to clarity, which then enables a CEO to lead from the front. Keeping employees as a top priority—as they are imperative to creating profit for the company—is a key piece of the puzzle.
Employee happiness accelerates company growth.
Making the case for positive work culture and happy employees requires proof that investment actually drives profit. After all, a business has to survive. Luckily, several studies have proven the value of investing in a positive work culture, with everything from operating margins, revenue per employee, and return on company assets.
In 2015, Glassdoor conducted research that found companies named to Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list substantially outperformed the overall S&P 500 from 2009 to 2014. These companies experienced as much as a 7.9% percent average jump in market value, a number that translates to millions.
In addition, the Journal of Corporate Finance published a study that explored the link between employee satisfaction, family firms, and corporate performance. The author cites that “results suggest that corporate culture, as assessed by employees, helps predict subsequent firm performance.”
Bottom line: Numbers don’t lie. A positive work culture is revenue positive.
How to foster positive work culture
Now that we’ve determined the causes of toxic workplaces and the validity of investing in employee happiness, it’s time to arm your company with the practical tools needed to build a positive culture. Below, here are five ways you can cultivate a healthy culture in your company:
1. Respect everyone’s time.
The remote workforce is easy to take advantage of with multiple time zones and communication tools like Slack helping workers stay “plugged in.” Respecting the boundaries in which your team works, along with operating with a sense of urgency, can foster an enormous amount of respect among coworkers. Great time management contributes to productivity, which reduces cost too. After all, time is our most valuable currency.
2. Start, and leave, with gratitude.
It’s easy to be negative. It requires less energy to be positive, plus being positive contributes to the healthy energy of your workspace. Always give credit where credit is due, and do your best to remain humble. If you are a manager, saying “Thank You” should be a regular phrase in your vocabulary, according to The Muse. Giving your employees a way to express their thanks is also important. This boosts morale across your entire organization.
3. Prioritize employee wellness.
Benefits are great, but many employees expect competitive healthcare packages. By going to extra mile to include other wellness benefits your compensation package, employees are immediately alerted at your priority for their health.
4. Be consistent.
Making up rules isn’t enough to cultivate a healthy workspace culture. You have to enforce the rules every day. Culture is a culmination of habits, which comes from behaviors. Repeated behaviors are an indicator of underlying values. Don’t let bad habits communicate the wrong message to your employees by not staying on top of good culture initiatives.
5. Create a safe working environment.
Diversity isn’t just “in” right now—having a wide range of perspectives attracts top talent and produces innovative ways of thinking, as found by Inc. It’s not just limited to difference races or genders either. The Harvard Business Review took time to explore how hiring people with extraordinary abilities that may operate on the spectrum or with other needs can present a hidden competitive advantage. As far as leadership, Veronique James of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization suggests that the best way to incorporate different views, cultures, lifestyles, and learning styles is by leading “with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.”
Case closed: Investing in work culture keeps your company competitive and healthy.
With impeding pressure to perform in the workplace, it’s hard for employees to maintain their mental health. Organizational health is more than just processes and workflows. It’s about making sure the employees participating in those workflows are taken care of and happy. Happy employees produce great work and feel a part of something larger than themselves, effectively contributing to a company’s long-term growth strategy.
Take the next step in maximizing your company’s positive work culture with ProcessMaker, the workflow solution designed to accelerate organizational health on the operational level.