Workplace culture. What is it? It’s more than your company mission, the colour of your uniforms, or the design of your offices. It’s what you say, what you do (or don’t do), your relationships, your interactions, and the attitude and outlook you bring to work each day.
Workplace culture is intimately linked to your organization’s values, ethics, and mission. And it’s an integral factor to your employees’ happiness and the success of your business.
It’s the how and the why behind roughly 1,645 hours a year that you spend with your coworkers.
That’s the same amount of time it takes to run 329 marathons. But whether your work week feels like a marathon or not is determined by your workplace culture.
Working in call centers has earned a reputation for feeling a lot like a marathon — without the endorphins and runner’s high. We want to change that, and over the course of 60 years, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create and sustain strong culture:
Tell your story.
A good company story should evoke the same feeling as laying on a dock at a cottage on a clear night marvelling at the stars: that you’re part of something bigger than yourself.
Unlike humans, businesses are not usually happy accidents. Your company was born to address an unmet need or a gap in the market. That’s your founding story and your reason for being, which connects employees across your company.
Your company’s story should be true, memorable, and authentic. At AnswerPlus, we call this the Dolly Story and it has become an easy way to share our history, while also communicating what we do and why we do it.
The Dolly Story communicates our core purpose, our values, and our mission in a way that is far more engaging them simply telling ourselves and others that we work for an answering service.
Get clear on your purpose.
Like your story, your purpose unites your employees and your culture. Your purpose drives your business, and it’s what makes you more than a business.
Your purpose should be bigger than what you’ve done or what you’re doing — it’s your vision. By clearly and frequently articulating your purpose, you are communicating the potential of every single one of your employees.
For example, The Lego Group was ranked number one in the Top Ten Most Reputable Companies of 2021. They didn’t achieve this reputation because their purpose was to build fun colorful toy bricks for children (that are slightly less fun for adults that step on them!)
Lego’s reputation is driven by its strong, purpose-oriented culture. Through play, their employees are inspiring children and fostering their potential, helping build a better tomorrow.
We’ve all heard the old saying that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. That’s why the quality of our co-workers directly influences all of us.
5 to 1 is also the ‘magic ratio’ for a different reason. According to science, It takes 5 positive interactions to cancel out one negative one. And let’s be real, negative interactions are inevitable, whether it’s a disgruntled customer or an unexpected order delay.
The good news is your people have the ability to cancel out negativity during the workday. They also have the biggest influence on your culture.
Your values and culture should be built into all aspects of your employee experience. When hiring, instead of just focusing on cultural fit, we seek ‘cultural add’. That is, the value new people can bring to our company and purpose, while also aligning with our culture.
Appreciation is the best motivation.
Sincere and often ‘thank yous’ are a more sustainable motivator than money. Competitive wages, promotions, and bonuses are important, but we don’t tuck them away carefully as we do with thank you cards.
Leading with gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can do. Most people expect to be compensated for their work, but far fewer expect to be thanked for it.
In fact, one survey found, 70% of workers say that motivation and morale would improve if managers simply said thank you more and noticed good work.
Infusing your workplace culture with gratitude by celebrating the small wins and the big milestones gives your employees something to look forward to. It also helps you retain great people who care about others and your culture.
Kaizen is a Japanese term that refers to ‘continuous improvement’ or ‘change for the better’. It’s a part of our culture and it should be part of yours too.
History was never made by ‘doing things the way we’ve always done them’. Conversely, this mentality can cause you to lose sight of your purpose and stagnate your culture. Kaizen means creating a culture where employees at all levels can voice new ideas, inspire change, and engage with your purpose.
Compared to being just satisfied, when your team is engaged and inspired, they’re nearly 125% more productive! (Bain & Company Inc., 2017)
Let that number sink in, and then take a look with fresh eyes at the not-so-seamless areas of your business. The bottom line is there’s always room for improvement. You should embrace this fact if you want to establish a culture of growth where employees feel empowered to do their best work.
Make it personal.
At this point in the pandemic, even the CEO of Zoom has Zoom fatigue. That’s why your workplace culture should add to employees’ lives, not take away from it or overpower it.
Part of workplace culture is fun events and traditions that bring people together. But it’s also about investing time, money, and thought into resources that support a work-life balance. Respect boundaries, but also cross them meaningfully by providing tools that support personal development AND professional development.
Taking the time to check in on employees’ personal aspirations and challenges allows you to form more authentic connections with them. Getting to know your employees personally allows you to better tailor your leadership and skill development initiatives.
And investing in your employees’ growth means investing in your company’s growth. A major long-term study discovered that companies with a strong workplace culture that appreciated everyone and encouraged leadership development grew 682% in revenue.
Well, that’s a wrap! Our culture at AnswerPlus has evolved so much in 60 years, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 60(plus!)
Building a strong workplace culture has truly set us apart. It has allowed us to form meaningful long-lasting relationships with clients who care about their people as much as we do. And we think that’s pretty great.