Benchmark Business Group

5 Dynamics of Workplace Culture

February 14, 2017

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Last week we opened the concept of workplace culture. We also challenged you to connect to the current workplace culture in your business. Did you like what you discovered? Were you surprised or enlightened in some areas? 

This week we will look at the five dynamics of workplace culture, and examine what influences workplace culture the most: 

1. Values and Beliefs
2. Leadership
3. Business Systems
4. Employees
5. Business Environment
Values and Beliefs
How a business does business influences the workplace culture. The values and beliefs of a business is the part of workplace culture that mostly shows a new person "how it works around here." Usually values and beliefs of a business are stated in the mission, core values, and vision. However, values and beliefs may not be in writing and that may lead to "unwritten" rules that are followed. For example, an employee may not know for sure if they can work flexible hours, but the unwritten rule is that employees work whenever they want as long as they work 40 hours each week. It may not be a problem at first, but then an employee may show up at 10:00 or 11:00 each morning and another employee may leave each day at 2:00. This scenario would give a narrow window for meetings that include both employees. To eliminate this kind of ambiguity in a business, it is necessary to define the workplace culture. 
Every employee in a business, either new or experienced, takes cues from the leaders and managers. How a leader "is" in a business, influences how their employees "are" in the business. If a leader is not threatened by their team, employees tend to be collaborative and open with their ideas. If a leader communicates clearly and often, employees also tend to communicate often. 
If a leader is indecisive, employees may also delay necessary decisions. If a leader is not responsive with communication, employees tend to respond without urgency. 
Note: When you look at leadership and workplace culture, it is worth pointing out that leadership is the number one reason why employees join or leave a business. 
Part of workplace culture is setting your employees up for success by providing them with systems to engage in and repeat with consistency. When there are well-defined systems, the workplace culture can be described as streamlined and efficient. Therefore, when a business has systems in place the workplace culture is valued higher than businesses without them. Systems and workplace culture can be summed up from a Will Durant quote, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." If the workplace culture is established and modeled, then it becomes a habit of excellence for your business. For instance, if your workplace culture is to have continual contact with your customers, but you don't have a system in place for how that will be done; then, in actuality your workplace culture is not to be in continual contact with your customers.
There are several ways employees influence workplace culture, especially how they interact with clients and each other. Employees who are happy and enjoy their work build a fulfilling and healthy workplace culture. Employees who understand the purpose of their role and how it contributes to the bottom line of the business add to a productive workplace culture. On the other hand, employees who gossip create a workplace culture that lacks trust and has poor communication. You may be able to name a few employees who bring a lot of positive energy to the business. Or, name an employee that is the one bad apple that brings the other employees down when they work together. 
Business Environment
The environment of a business is made up of the tangibles and intangibles of how a business looks and feels. This includes décor, work space, and location. It could also include smell, temperature, and co-worker interactions. For instance, an office which is bright and full of color indicates a workplace culture of high energy. On the other hand, a business that infuses the scent of lavender and has soft spoken employees implies a workplace culture of calm and relaxed. There may even be a combination of environments for different parts of the business.
With a better understanding of these five key areas that influence the culture of a business, we challenge you to take note of your current workplace culture and document changes you want to make.

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