Jane Hopkinson - MA (Hons), MSc H Psych
Culture, or ‘the way we do things around here’ is often considered the ‘soft’ side of business. However, there’s a wealth of research that shows culture is critical for influencing how an organisation operates day-to-day. It drives business performance, attraction, retention and, most critically, shapes the experience an organisation provides its people.
The post-pandemic world has forever changed that experience. It’s altered our values, our expectations and our ways of working. Combined with a multitude of other hurdles, including rapid technological change plus economic and climate crises, means that now more than ever, we are grappling with mental health and wellbeing issues.
‘Wellbeing’ can be defined as the combination of feeling good and functioning well; the experience of positive emotions such as happiness and contentment, as well as developing our potential, having some control over our life, a sense of purpose, and experiencing positive relationships.
Organisations are faced with the challenge of creating a culture that supports the wellbeing of their people. But all too often this challenge is met in a superficial way.
Does this sound familiar?
Increased absence, staff turnover and poor performance issues lead the Board and HR to conclude we need to “do wellbeing”.
A Board away day leads to a suite of interventions for HR to implement. There may be a new policy on hybrid working, the launch of an employee assistance programme, subsidised gym membership and a weekly walking club.
With ‘wellbeing’ ticked off their list, the Board and HR turn their focus back to more pressing priorities such as budgets, production, and performance management. Unfortunately for many organisations this scenario will sound familiar, but this tick box approach will never work. We need multilevel approaches where communication and engagement are key.
We cannot consider organisational culture and wellbeing as the sole responsibility of HR and the Board. There needs to be shared responsibility for creating a culture that supports wellbeing – this should involve people and functions across an organisation taking on the role of developing and maintaining that culture.
Wellbeing is not a siloed initiative. It needs to be integral to what an organisation does, embedded within their everyday processes, systems and actions.
The challenge is how to create a positive culture and meaningful experience for people – one that supports their wellbeing, enabling them and the organisation to thrive and flourish.
A healthy organisation
Essentially, organisations should strive to be a ‘healthy organisation’. One which has a healthy business environment, relationships, and ways of working which in turn promote and sustain physically and mentally healthy employees.
When aligned with the organisation’s mission, vision, values, drives, and needs, a ‘healthy’ culture can unleash tremendous amounts of potential. This leads to successful performance and provides a great employee experience.
The evidence is certainly available to support these claims. For example, a Global Culture Report (O.C Tanner, 2022) found a seven times increased likelihood of improving the employee experience when employees in an organisation believe they have autonomy, connection, and mastery. Organisations with a thriving culture and overall positive employee experience are thirteen times more likely to have highly engaged employees, and three times less likely to have employees who experience burnout (O.C Tanner, 2020).
You’ll see a variety of characteristics in a healthy organisational culture, including:
- Strong leadership with a well-defined sense of direction and purpose
- Effective and tailored communication with all employees
- Active employee involvement
- Policy, process, systems, structures, and resources that support and enable people to succeed
- Acceptance and appreciation for diversity
- Fair treatment and respect for all
- Employee pride and enthusiasm for the organisation and the work performed
- Creativity and innovation
- Investment in learning, training, and employee knowledge.
At SMRS we recognise and champion the concept of a healthy organisation. We believe that financial and business performance are not your only markers of success. What is critical is a clear mission and purpose, encouraging ideas, and being resilient and adaptable to change. This approach keeps your people at the centre – their connections, wellbeing, involvement, and belonging. It touches employee experience across the talent lifecycle; setting up the organisation for success, driven by people who are empowered to make the right decisions.
If any of the themes explored here have sparked interest, get in touch. We’d love to help your organisation adopt a truly healthy culture in 2023.
By Jane Hopkinson – MA (Hons), MSc H Psych