How to bring company culture into the age of the digital workplace

Written by Mike Hicks on 13 February 2018 in Features
Features

Mike Hicks looks at how culture meets the digital world.

It’s no secret that the digital workplace bolsters productivity. But beyond driving simpler and more efficient processes, it can also amplify workplace culture. And in our increasingly diverse and geographically scattered organisations, that’s a key benefit.

Good workplace culture isn’t simply regarded as a perk these days – it’s a business imperative with a demonstrable impact on the bottom line. As Gallup’s most recent 'State of the American Workplace' report revealed, workplaces with lower employee engagement scores suffered 18% lower productivity and 16% lower profitability.

For employees, a positive culture is so important that they prioritise it above material benefits such as a salary raise, according to a UK survey. And, in a survey of senior executives, 94% of them say culture is the most important element in driving innovation.

As the digital workplace continues to evolve, here are three ways to make sure your workplace’s culture keeps pace:

Involve HR, but put ownership on the CEO and leadership

Somewhere along the way, HR became responsible for all things people and culture. Yet this responsibility should not be relegated to one department – especially since organisational leadership has more power to make lasting changes.

Cultural improvement efforts require leadership buy-in – especially from the CEO. Getting CEO buy-in establishes a top-down precedent that will lead to broad adoption. If your CEO doesn’t already embrace culture as best as he or she could, illustrating the effect good culture has on the bottom line is sure to open his or her eyes.

Good workplace culture isn’t simply regarded as a perk these days – it’s a business imperative with a demonstrable impact on the bottom line.

After all, CEOs are tasked with running a profitable business above all other goals, so it helps to speak their language when introducing a new initiative.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is a great example of a leader who does all he can to champion organisational culture. I think he puts it well in his book, 'Delivering Happiness': “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organisations, culture is destiny.”

Align culture goals with what employees want from their workplace

With millennials establishing a larger presence at work, they’re bringing their own work styles to the office. For example, millennials are more apt to blend their personal and professional lives. They might keep in touch with friends and family throughout the day, but they’re also willing to answer work-related emails in their time away from the office.

Leadership should be open to adapting to these work style shifts rather than resisting them. Therefore, it’s up to workplace leaders to find out what their employees prioritise out of their experience at work so they too can prioritise it. If millennials feel supported in their varying work styles, they’ll be more likely to cite a positive culture, engage further with their work and stay loyal to the organisation.

Incorporate fun and creativity within the digital workplace where appropriate

The digital workplace came about for functional reasons, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a vehicle for the lighthearted and quirky parts of an organisation’s culture.

For example, many of our customers use a social wall in their digital workplace for employees to share fun and timely updates throughout the day. A kudos corner or shout-out zone is also a great way to highlight the efforts of employees who are going above and beyond.

These simple acts of recognition allow all employees, regardless of location or time zone, to share in celebrating the big and small successes. Commenting and sharing provides a social media-like experience and is a great way to remind your employees that they work in a community of other interesting, smart and funny humans.

Getting creative with how you can allow your employees to take a break from their daily routine says a lot about an organisation’s culture, and employees will take note of that. Basing all your processes in a digital space doesn't mean that your workplace culture has to suffer. In fact, the opposite is true. 

The age of the digital workplace makes the flourishing of workplace culture more possible than ever before and provides an avenue to extend some of the great aspects of your physical workplace culture into the digital workplace, if leadership is mindful about how to implement it.

 

About the author

Mike Hicks is vice president of strategy, Igloo Software.

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