During the week, we spend most of our waking hours working, or travelling to and from offices or meetings (although perhaps not as much as we once did!) or thinking about work. (Sure, sometimes we are also thinking about that lunchtime sandwich, or Masterchef, but work is up there…) Work is a huge feature in our lives, and as such, a positive workplace culture is important.
How important? Business communication platform Workplace argues: “Culture is the very air you breathe. If it’s toxic, your organisation dies.”
That may sound melodramatic, but it’s far from inaccurate. Research by Deloitte has shown that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. As Forbes magazine puts it: “A positive culture in the workplace is essential for fostering a sense of pride and ownership amongst the employees. When people take pride, they invest their future in the organisation and work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the organisation.”
The article continues: “A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.”
Events of the last couple of years have wrought many changes – as the now almost universal loathing of Zoom quizzes eloquently illustrates. The way we work has changed too. Hybrid and home-working have become the norm. This represents a challenge for organisations to foster a distinctive workplace culture.
But with 57% of companies saying they anticipate significant changes to their culture it also represents something of an opportunity to tailor your workplace culture to the needs of employees. Organisations have a blank canvas upon which to work – and its up to them how competently and compassionately they decorate it.
But where to start? After all, we’ve moved on from the days when popping down a couple of beanbags and sticking a pool table in the break room constitutes a working culture policy.
Start with Wellbeing
Front and centre of any positive workplace culture needs to be employee wellbeing. One of the benefits of the pandemic and its fallout has been the increasing normalisation of open discussion and greater understanding of mental and physical health.
Speaking on the podcast That Wellbeing @ Work Show, psychologist and employee experience and wellbeing expert Gethin Nadin says: “I think we have enough vast and compelling evidence that those organisations that commit to employee wellbeing perform better. In the UK, if we look at the FTSE 100, there’s a direct, statistical, significant difference between those organisations who commit more to wellbeing and how they perform in terms of profits and shareholder returns.”
Employers are waking up to the fact that looking after their staff should be their number one priority. According to Workplace: “Wellbeing was the top-ranked trend of importance in the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, with 80% of leaders identifying it as important or very important to their organisation’s success.” Little surprise, when you consider that, according to research done by Oxford University, happy workers are 13% more productive than unhappy ones.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Another key pillar of a positive working environment is fostering collaboration and communication within the workplace. Forbes makes the point: “Leadership and management style that encourages teamwork, open and honest communication is vital to creating a positive feeling in the workplace. Open and honest communication also means that regular audits are taken to evaluate how people are interacting with each other, feedback is welcomed and taken on board, and opportunities for social interaction are enabled.”
On the podcast, Gethin Nadin puts it even more simply: “If I’ve got a friend at work, I’m more likely to be engaged, I’m more likely to stay loyal to that business, I’m less likely to feel lonely outside of work.”
The key, says Workplace, is collaboration. “A thriving collaborative culture can break down boundaries between teams. On the flip side, a toxic environment can make employees selfish and cultivate a blame culture… It’s about connecting people to a common purpose. It’s about connecting them with each other when working remotely or together in the physical workspace.”
Do the right thing
In a competitive job market, where attracting new talent and holding on to existing talent are increasingly challenging, organisations are discovering that looking after their workforce, and doing things right, is key.
“Businesses with a strong social conscience who follow ethical working practices and support staff wellbeing tend to attract more business and the best talent,” says Workplace. “Research by the CBI shows that 69% of the UK public believe that treating staff well is the most effective way to improve business reputation.” It states that “Companies with healthy cultures are 16 times more likely to retain their Generation Z employees.”
Gethin Nadin runs hundreds of workshops with large organisations every year to discuss wellbeing and the workplace culture. He always starts with the same question. “If I stopped one of your employees in the street and I asked them if their employer cared about them, what would they say?”
Now more than ever, employees need to feel nurtured and looked after. An employer that shows an interest in the wellbeing of their workforce will foster a greater sense of goodwill and contentment among their workforce which, by definition, will improve the workplace culture.
Finding the right tool
But all the good intentions in the world are for nothing if employers don’t find the right wellbeing tool. Nadin estimates that there are some 400,000 wellbeing apps available for download but warns that the majority of them are scientifically unproven despite some of the technology being recommended by healthcare organisations such as the NHS in the UK.
This is where a proven wellbeing tool like BuddyBoost has a role to play. BuddyBoost has a growing range of programmes where participants commit to doing something that’s good for them for at least 26 days in a month. For example, in BuddyBoost Active, people commit to doing 26 minutes of physical activity each day. Participants rate their mood after doing their minutes, and the data from around 250,000 activities logged on the app shows that, on average, people get a 25% mood boost from the programme.
But crucially, BuddyBoost also has embedded in its programme a sense of community and mutual support. Participants form into groups of buddies in the BuddyBoost app to help and motivate one another to complete the challenge. A key aspect of the BuddyBoost experience is that it strengthens camaraderie and fosters a strong team spirit among colleagues.
Everyone taking part in a BuddyBoost challenge stays in touch on their company’s private community feed, posting messages and photos, boosting engagement and sense of unity. This fosters a spirit of open engagement in a company that improves camaraderie, and helps to promote a healthy and positive workplace culture.
According to BuddyBoost co-founder Robert Tansey, witnessing the interactions between participants on the app is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. “Whether they’re posting pictures of their activities, encouraging each other to get out there and do their 26 minutes, or having open and healthy discussions about their physical and mental health, it’s an incredibly collaborative and supportive forum, where bonds are forged and friendships born. BuddyBoost might improve people’s wellbeing thanks to the focus on doing something that’s good for you each day, but it is also going some way to forming something more fundamental and long-lasting.”
As Gethin Nadin concludes, the best way to stay healthy and productive is through relationships. “The most effective way that people can deal with burnout is to have more people in their life that they can trust and speak to… That doesn’t just mean friends and family, that means people we work with.”
A wellbeing tool that can improve overall wellbeing, boost mood, and get people talking – that’s something worth talking about.