Is it time to fundamentally rethink workplace culture?

For many years, a heady mix of long hours, hypermasculinity and alcohol have ruled many a UK workplace. Finally, there could be signs that this dated culture is being left behind. Bullying bosses are being outed, gender pay gaps are slowly being closed and the rights of workers have been promoted; however, there’s still a long way to go.

All the signs suggest that younger workers, particularly the emerging Generation Z, are simply not prepared to make the same level of sacrifice as previous generations. While employees used to stay in the same positions for their entire careers, now younger workers regard their health and well-being, rather than job security, as the ultimate bottom line.

Why does workplace culture need to change?

As it stands, the vast majority of employees worldwide report having an overall negative experience at work. A global study by Gallop canvassed the opinions of 73,752 respondents in 142 countries around the world. It found that only 13 percent of employees admitted to being engaged at work. In other words, just one-in-eight are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making a positive contribution to their workplace.

Such low levels of engagement have a dramatic impact on the productivity of employees. In fact, workers who did admit to being engaged at work were 17 percent more productive and 21 percent more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. Clearly then, the low proportion of engaged employees is a barrier to high-performing businesses and a clear sign that things need to change.

Moving towards a more employee-centred world

The common workplace mentality in many industries puts processes ahead of people, and it’s exactly this type of thinking that does not meet the unique expectations of younger workers. Businesses that create performance management systems around the psychological needs of their employees get the most out of their teams.

Strategies to create more employee-centred cultures include promoting positive workplace relationships, frequently recognising the contributions of workers, having ongoing performance conversations and putting in opportunities for personal development in place.

Giving employees roles that play towards their natural strengths

Another key part of fundamentally changing workplace culture is to allow employees to gravitate towards roles and responsibilities that play to their natural strengths. Currently, in many workplaces, a command-and-control style of leadership restricts the ability of businesses to identify and develop their employees’ innate talents. Employees who are able to use their natural abilities are more likely to be motivated by and productive in their roles, simply because they find the work more enjoyable.

In many organisations, employees will have to be given more autonomy and greater input to use those strengths. Adopting such an approach requires a fundamental switch not only in the culture of the business but also in the management style. Traditional manager-employee power dynamics will have to be replaced by more personalised relationships so workers can be positioned according to their individual strengths.

Clearing the path to transformed company cultures

It is down to business leaders to recognise when the pervading workplace culture is becoming a roadblock to engagement and productivity. Disrupting the status quo and putting the needs of people first will not only improve the health and wellbeing of the workforce but also bring greater prosperity to the business.

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