How workplace culture will be even more important in 2022

Recently I wrote about a phenomenon that’s currently being experienced by workplaces in the US – The Great Resignation – is it real?  The Great Resignation

In essence, the great resignation refers to a trend in which employees, from a range of industries, have decided to leave their jobs.

The reason for this basically comes down to dissatisfaction with their jobs, workplace, and employer.

A recent study by Microsoft showed that more than 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their current employers this year.

Having to live through extended periods of lockdown, employees feel; micromanaged, having to deal with a higher workload, having to work extended hours (to show they are working) and of course, seemingly endless virtual meetings, that don’t have any benefit or outcomes other than to check up on employees.

All of these (and many other feelings) have led to employee burnout, which in turn is driving the great resignation trend.

Already, we are seeing the signs of the ‘great resignation’ phenomenon starting to happen in Australia and which is likely to gain momentum in 2022.

There are countless articles written about workplace trends in 2022 and many of them centre around safety & health concerns and employee well-being.

Employee mental well-being will likely continue to be a priority.

Many employees – and their managers – are struggling to find a healthy balance between work and life – regardless of the pandemic and lockdowns.

What does a healthy workplace culture look like?

To slow down or get past the great resignation phenomenon, many businesses have resorted to offering their employees monetary benefits, such as an increase in pay or sign-on bonuses.

However, any monetary benefit is very short lived – once it’s given, it’s forgotten.

To address the issue of employee dissatisfaction, burnout, and disengagement, we must go back to basics, or the root cause of the issue(s) – and in this case, it’s all about workplace culture.

The importance of workplace culture has been spoken and written about many times before, however, the difference now is that a positive and encouraging workplace culture is a must and not an afterthought.

A study by Harvard Business Review showed how a positive workplace culture directly impacted on employee productivity, engagement and importantly, retention (holding onto your best people).]

So, what does a positive workplace culture look like?

Simply put, it’s an environment that even a visitor to your workplace can sense and feel – it’s where your employees are more than willing to go that extra mile and an environment where your employees feel valued, respected, and know they are making a positive contribution.

How you can improve your workplace culture

There are many non-monetary actions you can put in place to improve your workplace culture; I’ve come down to what I believe are the 3 most important elements of a positive workplace culture.

  1. Your employees are clear on how they make a difference (for your business)

One of the biggest de-motivators for any employee (or as human beings in general), is feeling like you don’t count or that what whatever you do, won’t make any difference.

Being able to clearly show how each of your employees can make a positive difference to your business is one of the greatest motivators.

This is when your employee thinks to themselves – I can make a difference here and that what I do is valued.

To start with, any business, not matter how small, needs to have a clear Vision in place for their business – a Vision is WHAT your business stands for and wants to achieve.

Followed by a clear Mission – the Mission is HOW your business will achieve the Mission.

And once you’ve clearly explained and communicated both Vision & Mission to your employees, this will set the foundations of aligned engagement.

For example, if you have a disgruntled or disengaged front line employee who is the first point of contact for any prospective client/visitor/contractor – any negative sentiment from this person will set the tone for the rest of the business, regardless of how ‘perfect’ it may be behind the scenes.

And imagine if your warehouse crew are careless with order picking, packing, and shipping – the result will be a stream of endless returns from dissatisfied customers.

You cannot not underestimate the damage that will be caused to your business through disengaged and dissatisfied employees.

  1. It’s the employers/managers job to promote teamwork

Building a collaborative environment will be critical in the years to come.

A collaborative environment is one in which everyone works together, shares their knowledge, can lean on each other and most importantly, can learn from one another.

When people hoard information or try to compete with others to get ahead, it’s a sure sign of a toxic culture where self-serving behaviour is rewarded – again, the mantra of working together has to be part of your company culture, then people know what is expected of them.

  1. Recognition

Employee recognition is probably the most overlooked element in any business environment.

In fact, in many cases, it’s only when the employee makes a mistake is when the attention is focused on them.

And recognition need not involve throwing money around – rather, a simple acknowledgment of the employee’s efforts and/or accomplishments will go so much further than simply throwing money around.

Even better, when an employee’s achievements are mentioned and acknowledged in public AND when aligned with the company Vision, Mission & Values, then others will understand what they also need to do to receive the same acknowledgement.

Building, growing, and maintaining a positive work culture is not an overnight process, however, there are also simple steps you can take to start the process.

And in the face of a candidate driven market where talent acquisition & retention will become harder, a positive workplace culture could just be the trick that helps your hold onto your best people.

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