December 11, 2018
Company Culture 19 June 2018
How to Create a Company Culture That Will Improve Workplace Happiness
Helo Tamme
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Workplace Happiness comes down to people and culture, meaning who are the people whom we are hiring for our organizations and what kind of experience are we creating for them so that they would be engaged and motivated to contribute? Organizations must carefully think about what kind of workplace culture to create. 

According to Deloitte

Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organizational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and will likely beat their competition in attracting top talent.

Another research shows that the qualities of a positive workplace culture boil down to six essential characteristics: 

(1) Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.  

(2) Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling. 

(3) Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes. 

(4) Inspiring one another at work. 

(5) Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work. 

(6) Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

Totaljobs surveyed more than 100 employers in UK and found that five most important things for organizations to improve their culture include: 

  • encouraging a positive team atmosphere (76%), 
  • recognizing and rewarding great work (57%), 
  • encouraging strong relationships (54%), 
  • improving communication (51%) 
  • acting as a role model to employees (50%).

It can, therefore, be concluded that a culture of appreciation is something that is getting more and more important when talking about creating a positive workplace culture. It is something that organizations must focus on in case they want to attract and retain their talents. 


Giving Organizational and Peer-to-Peer Feedback

Can you imagine that you have an employee working for your company doing a great job, but they don't get any praise or any feedback on the job whatsoever? All employees are waiting for the feedback, especially Millennials, who are one of the most attractive generations to the majority of employers.

A culture of appreciation is not an easy thing to create and do because not all people are good at giving feedback. Organizations must strategize on how to support and educate their people to do so correctly. Though I believe that top managers should act as role models in here, the topic of feedback and praise is actually something that should be everybody’s task and responsibility. A lot of organizations have realized that by now and have therefore initiated different approached how they conduct appraisals and people reviews as well what kind of programs they have available for praise and recognition. 

It has been found that organizations that have peer to peer recognition programs report this that peers have the biggest influence on Employee Engagement level. Moreover, a study conducted by SHRM/Globoforce found that these companies have 35% more likely to report a lower employee turnover.

Four steps, how to start with the peer recognition program, are:

  • To define and communicate the goals of the program. First of all, one needs to have an understanding of why the program is created. Is it meant to motivate and engage employees, or is the reason to create a fun and collaborative workplace culture? Once the program’s goals are defined it should be communicated to employees so they know what aspects of their peers’ performances they can recognize.

  • To make peer recognition easy. It is recommended to create a program that is fun and easy, just like a game. Therefor leaderboards, badges, gifts and similar are some of the components that encourage employees to get involved.

  • To give peer recognition weight. People need to understand that giving and receiving recognition actually matters. For many companies, raises and promotions are given based on an employee’s merit.

  • To strive for top-down participation. Starting from the very top, managers are the one that needs to set an example. In case they give recognition then their people will do that as well (and vise verse). Having employees from all levels participate in the program means company-wide motivation and accountability. Involving all employees can also create a more united team, where each member feels his or her opinion is important and valued by the organization and their peers.


Hiring for Cultural Fit

Coworkers matter a lot when we are talking about employee satisfaction, engagement, and happiness with work. Therefore employers must carefully think who are the people whom they are hiring and bringing in to their organizations. How these people fit the teams and to company culture. Employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and their supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance. 

Luckily, employers know this is true! According to a survey conducted by totaljobs: two-thirds (67%) of employers say a candidate’s cultural fit is ‘very important’ when looking for new staff (only 1% said the cultural fit was not important in the hiring process).

But how do you hire for culture fit? Well, first of all, one needs to know the organization culture, meaning values, principles, practices, etc. of the particular organization and then assess candidate fit against these. So for instance, if honesty is one of the organization’s values, then questions related to honesty are the ones that should be asked during the interview or tested through different exercises. When teamwork is at the heart of the organization, then it makes sense to implement group project work during the hiring process. You could also do a tour of the company and introduce colleagues to the candidate to see how they fit with each other.


Workplace Friendships

“Do you have a friend at work?” – is a question that a lot of companies are asking their employees during their employee surveys. For instance, Gallup has found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work. Here are some thoughts that organizations could do to build workplace friendships.

  • To use gamification methods when recruiting or training people. Games, fun, challenges – all are things that unite people.

  • To organize after-hours team events for the people, starting from playing golf or basketball together.

  • To create internal social media groups (in Facebook or Yammer, for instance) where people can share both private and work-related information.

  • To create and sponsor traditions that help to unite people. Traditions could be related to birthday celebrations, casual Fridays or national holidays.

  • To encourage peer to peer recognition, which would mean that employees recognizing each other for their great work or for helping each other.


Coworker Influence 

There are also other reasons why employers should focus on hiring the right people. American happiness researcher Shawn Achor has found that the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. At those times, individuals tend to be more creative and better at solving problems. 

"We found that optimism is the greatest predictor of entrepreneurial success because it allows your brain to perceive more possibilities. Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people and manages stress."

Studies actually confirm that our coworkers influence us more than we think. For instance, when you put a fast worker next to a slow worker, it tends to speed up the slow worker instead of slowing down the fast worker. However, toxic workers negatively influenced their neighbors’ performance. If a toxic worker sat next to a nontoxic worker, the toxic worker’s influence often won out and increased the chances of the nontoxic worker becoming toxic. 


As Workplace Happiness and Organization performance comes down to People and Culture companies must carefully think what kind of culture they are creating and what kind of people they are hiring. Are you already focusing on your organization culture and hiring people for culture fit? Learn more about improving your culture and how to hire the right people by scheduling a time to talk with one of our specialists.

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Helo Tamme is a People & Culture Director at ISS for Russia and Baltics.

In addition to this, she is also a speaker, an HR Lecturer, and a blogger with two different blogs – one is Estonian blog about recruitment, the other one about Workplace Happiness.