Creating a positive work culture



Imagine if the popular Pharrell Williams’ song reflected your workplace culture. Then ask yourself hand–on–heart, what song your team are actually humming?

Keeping your employees motivated and productive is quite the challenge in our post pandemic, hybrid and unstable world.

A recent WHO–led study* estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. 

Closer to home, according to The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), presenteeism – where depressed workers are at work but not performing due to mental stress – costs South Africa roughly R200 billion a year. 

Mental stress points to watch

  • Inadequate health and safety policies
  • Poor communication and management practices
  • Low control over one’s area of work
  • Low levels of support for employees
  • Inflexible working hours
  • Unclear tasks or objectives
  • Tasks not suited to competence
  • A high and unrelenting workload

A further survey by the Top Employers Institute** showed that 95% of respondents saw wellbeing as a key business imperative. Workplace wellbeing is derived from a positive culture. 

Benefits of a positive work culture

  • Builds trust and cooperation 
  • Improved understanding of processes and goals
  • Better decision making
  • Boosts individual and team confidence
  • Improves communication
  • Happier employees, happier customers

How to create a positive and healthy culture for your team

  • Show empathy. As the boss, you have a larger–than–life impact on how your employees feel. Empathy is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes – seeking to understand their feelings.
  • Go out of your way to help. Try saying yes to reasonable requests and take personal circumstances into account. Kindness builds loyal relationships.
  • Listen! Encourage employees to talk to you and ask for their input. (Watch the first few episodes of the popular ‘New Amsterdam’ series to see leadership-by-listening in action.)
  • Show people that they are valued. Ask for ideas; allow people to try new things; give meaningful work; explain the why, not just the what; back your team, even if they made a mistake.
  • Say thank you. Everyone likes to be recognised for a job well done.
  • Offer choice, flexibility and control where practical. In a world of uncertainty, having a degree of
    control in how we work builds a
    sense of purpose

Perhaps the answer lies in not seeing your staff as an expense, but as an investment!

* Source: Mental health in the workplace

** Source: World of Work Trends Report 2020

By Janet Askew

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