In modern times, most people spend more time at their workplace than at their home. People not only earn their living from the organisations where they are employed, but they also make friends and develop deeper relationships with their colleagues. Offices have thus become a second home for most employees and it impacts the personal life of the employees to a great extent.
Just as every society has a culture and tradition that evolves over a long time, the work culture of a company or of a government department also evolves over time.
We all know the importance of good culture in making great societies and great nations. The same is true with respect to the work culture of a company. Brian Kristofek, president and CEO of Upshot, had said this aptly, ‘Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.’
The work cultures of government organisations, public sector undertakings and private organisations are quite different. Even the work culture of the different government departments vary drastically. We find a different work culture in the army, police, tax department and government schools. Similarly, the work culture in start-ups, large Indian private sector companies or large Multi-national Corporations (MNCs) varies a lot from each other. It is the work culture that makes the office environment congenial, impacts its profitability and attracts the best employees towards the job.
All organisations are formed to achieve certain objectives. While the private companies are often driven by the motive of profit, the government organisations are driven by motives like public welfare, collection of tax, or maintenance of law and order. The objectives of the public sector companies are often the combination of the both these motives.
Work culture is a concept which deals in the study of beliefs, thought processes and attitudes of the employees. Work culture of an organisation decides how the employees interact with each other, how much they trust each other and how much they follow the rules and procedures of the organisation.
Work culture determines the ambiance of the company and the attitude of the employee towards each other and with other stakeholders like customers, vendors, society, citizens, etc. When the work culture is good, employees give their best and organisations achieve their goals and improve their profits. Moreover, employees enjoy working in their offices and develop loyalty towards the organisation they work for. The attrition rates reduce as the employees stick to their job and a positive environment is created in the office.
Salient Features of a Healthy Work Culture
1. Voluntary compliance of rules and procedures
When the work culture of an organisation is good, everyone follows the rules and procedures without any pressure or fear. There is no need for the top management to create fear or threaten the employees with punishment to fall in line. The organisation trusts its people and makes simple and easy rules and procedures. However, when the trust is missing, the rules are made more complex and become difficult to follow. Hence, the organisation has to resort to punishment to implement them.
2. Mutual respect
When the work culture is good, employees respect each other and consider themselves to be colleagues rather than superior or inferior to others. They are cordial and deal with each other in a friendly manner unlike as a boss or subordinates. There is no politics in the office to play one against other and create rift in the organisation. The employees and the management are happy and satisfied with each other.
3. Increased productivity
When an organisation has a cordial environment, its productivity increases automatically because the goal of the organisation becomes the goal of every employee. There is no conflict within and hence there is no wastage of resources of energy within the organisation. Everyone works as a team and produces the best results.
4. Objectivity in performance assessment
When the work culture of an organisation is bad, performance either has no value in the organisation or it is assessed on extraneous reasons. The sycophants, corrupt and inefficient workers often move ahead while the honest and hard-working people suffer. This demotivates sincere employees and harms the organisation. If the work culture is good, the performance appraisal is purely on merit and the personal relationship with superiors plays little or no role. Everyone, therefore, focuses on the job and gives his best.
5. Reward and punishment
Good work culture does not mean treating everyone the same. In order to motivate people, it is important to reward the performing employees with the fastest promotions, best pay and loads of appreciation formally and informally. In the same way, the employees who are not performing must be counselled, trained and motivated to give their best. They must be given opportunity to improve. However, if they fail to heed the concern of the organisation and don’t mend their ways, they must be removed from the organisation so that other people don’t follow their ways and become a liability on the company.
6. Participation and discussion
When the work culture of an organisation is good, people have respect for each other’s views and opinions. Hence, everyone feels free to express their true and honest opinion. Such an organisation is not a vertical organisation where all commands flow from the top and the people at the lower rung are there only to obey the directions of the bosses. Instead, these organisations are horizontal in nature and the communication is always two-way. They discuss the matters at all levels before implementing them. Hence, they are able to identify the pitfalls of each decision and take care of it in advance. This reduces the chances of failure of the decisions taken by the management.
Good work culture promotes transparency while bad work culture survives on opaqueness. There is no manipulation of data or tempering of documents to suit the organisation. Even rewards and punishments are accorded in a transparent manner according to the well down policy so that no one feels aggrieved or discriminated.
In good organisations, the employees are treated with dignity, like fellow human beings who have emotions and feelings, rather than as a resource that should be exploited to maximise the benefit of the organisation. The employees are treated more like family members and given personal attention. They are given opportunities according to their aptitude and needs. They celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and support their employees when they are in trouble. Even the lowest employee can access the top-level officer and he feels free to express his grievances like a family member.
There are often cultural events and outings organised by the company where people get to know each other at personal levels and develop deeper bonding. There are regular training programmes, workshops, seminars and presentations too for the skill development and upgradation of the employees. Every employee feels valued and special in such organisations.