3 Components of Work Culture

Employees are moving on from companies because the employer’s work culture no longer fits their needs. I’m surprised when I ask small business owners about their work culture by how different their perspective is from that of their employees.

As we see daily in the news, the evolution of culture of a workplace is changing rapidly with executives being called to defend habits and behaviors from years ago. In other words, work cultures will be a hot topic in the coming year and business owners can suffer greatly if they are not in tune with what real work culture exists in their organization.

I advise all business executives to take the time to truly understand how their culture functions in the workplace. Truly explore each of the following three segments:

The stated components

Most companies have a stated list of core values, mission and documented beliefs that they say rules the functions within the organization. Frequently, these are left over ideas from a previous era of work and should be regularly revisited to see if they are still in line with the needs of the workplace and the customers. As workplace issues evolve, customer expectations shift, and employee beliefs change, companies are responsible for adjusting their work culture expectations and policies accordingly.

The unstated components

The stated components are supposed to guide the workplace culture, but the unstated components are the actual, day-to-day functioning of a work culture. Underlying assumptions, rituals, acceptable office humor, and leadership behaviors are truly shaping the work culture of your business, regardless of stated guidelines. Ask yourself, do the actions of leadership match the intent of the stated expectations of your work culture? The disconnect here will become a much bigger deal as employee lawsuits and big stories such as NBC and the Weinstein Company bring this issue to a greater light. Get to know the unstated norms within your work culture.

The atmosphere

The Old Boys Club attitude hasn’t fit the workplace for decades, yet it still thrives in many organizations. What is the attitude and feel within your business?  Do people feel comfortable working together and with their managers, or is there a palpable toxicity in those relationships? If people struggle to work together or feel intimidated by management, these are indications your culture is broken. An exodus of quality employees, low morale, and high stress are not going to improve any business. Take the time to truly explore your real work culture before you are facing leaked reports, employee lawsuits or a damaged reputation where no one wants to work within your organization.