Company culture is critical to the success and sustainability of any organisation as it directs employees via engagement initiatives for driving satisfaction and effective interpersonal relationships. Employees who are more satisfied and engaged in their workspaces, positively impact their roles and the work culture through their daily actions — as they have a well-rounded work ethic and commitment to the organisation’s goals.

While perks and benefits are important factors in driving engagement, they are not the only ones. The organisational environment should be encouraging of every member to achieve excellence across pursuits.

Collaboration vs competition

While competition is not inherently wrong, it may hold back from achieving an employee's potential because it is ultimately disruptive and short-term in nature (the idea of ‘there can be only one winner’). A consciously competitive culture builds resentment between ‘losers’ and ‘winners’ as it promotes separation into competitive units. Such an environment creates a feeling of fear, leading to justify an individual’s loss or lack of performance. It does not foster long-term engagement and affects job performance, communication between employees, and customer engagement as individual goals overpower collective goals.

On the other hand, collaboration is all about progressing and pushing towards the finish line together, leading to a nurturing environment ensuring everyone contributes to the organisation’s success. A collaborative culture boosts productivity as it encourages individuals to work together to get things done. An open communication among employees from different departments, diverse backgrounds, and different interests and learning styles also fosters exchange of ideas, leading to innovation.

Importance of Transparency

A key component of a collaborative work culture is ‘Transparency’. It helps employees feel connected to the workplace and get a sense of job security, keeping them focused on performance, and less stressed about their survival. Sharing the organisation’s approach to ensuring fair play and benefits is another transparency element that helps keep employees focused on work and their colleagues in going the extra mile for the organisation. Top-Down or Bottom-Up is complemented with lateral communication structures so that information is democratic and truly all-reaching.

Transparency in a company is a collective effort, involving everyone in the organisation to maintain and foster a transparent culture. It is crucial to set boundaries and expectations; one should not use the excuse of ‘Workplace Transparency’ for their wrong behaviour. It is important to communicate with Transparency in the organisation, even if it is negative, so that company culture does not get affected. Layoffs, mergers, salary reductions are topics that create panic if not communicated correctly. Such situations in an organisation should never come as a surprise. The key to making such processes go smoothly is communication. A transparent communication, empathetic approach, and solid support help both employees and employers move forward in a good position.

Understand what makes employees happy

Besides having a transparent communication platform, it is essential for an organisation to build a healthy work culture. ‘Empathy’ in the organisation makes life easy for everyone. It helps understand how others feel and react to their feelings without hurting any sentiments. Adopting a compassionate tone in the workplace needs a conscious effort.

People want to feel that they are part of the organisation and involved in activities; empathy helps in building that relationship. Not just this but empathy also allows teams to collaborate and work effectively.

In a remote working culture without the benefit of face-to-face interactions, there is much need to rely on empathy to be more productive. Sharing the organisation’s purpose and letting them take ownership of their actions and outcomes make them empowered, thus saving them from routine burnout. This only results in a happier workforce.

Leading by example

Leading by example is a robust behaviour and critical for organisational culture and success. Treating everyone with respect regardless of their designation builds a healthy workplace environment and gives confidence to employees. Influential leaders are those who spend time championing the culture and values of the organisation.

Everybody looks at the managers with a team-feeling to celebrate success and failure; even being part of a small activity makes managers an inspiring figurehead. A happy team is one where managers encourage, inspire, engage, and nurture their teams by fostering a culture of personal and public recognition. Establishing employee advocacy and creating a unique blend of cultural values led by example from the top encourages a crucial feedback chain to keep improving and evolving.

Outside implications

A strong engagement programme has positive implications outside the organisation. It ensures a powerful brand reputation for potential employees and clients, whether via informal word-of-mouth or a formal alumni cell. Ultimately, any innovative and effective engagement plan's success depends on the people culture to encourage initiative and provide them the freedom to express themselves. And a positive culture is every organisation’s intangible and ever-present asset.

The writer is Co-Founder, and Managing Director, TresVista