Culture. It is a word we are continuously told is an integral part of a healthy company – evoking a sense of belonging and meaning. We hear the buzzwords of successful workplace cultures – strong, innovative, talented, driven, engaging, fun, results oriented. Executives are not only expected to demonstrate strong leadership and performance, but also, they are now encouraged to serve as an inspiration to management and employees. If this sounds familiar, you have likely considered how your organization can benefit from a strong workplace culture; and for good reason. Investing in the well-being of your team is perhaps the most valuable choice you can make. Only an estimated 35% of the global workforce is highly engaged. As a leader, you are well aware that employee engagement is important to business performance1,, resulting in better financial outcomes.
Research continues to validate that healthy employees are engaged, productive, and energized assets1,2,; exactly what any leader would want in helping with their bottom line. While shifting an organization’s culture is challenging, it can be done incrementally. By building a strong workplace culture, employees and leadership teams experience a win-win. Take for example change agent leaders from Apple, Google, and Facebook who have a strong workplace culture and set unprecedented standards in employee engagement, retention, and attractiveness in an employer.
How can executive teams work together to build this culture and how can it be achieved? Leadership must formulate a strong workplace culture by investing in healthy employees and harnessing a culture of team engagement across the board to produce better results.
Strengthening Workplace Culture
Every business, whether a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, has a culture, sometimes unbeknownst to leadership. These cultures are a product of how employees interact with one another, company values, and expectations from the top. Moreover, culture is a learned behavior; how leaders behave and interact with their employees speaks volumes. In order to build a strong workplace culture, change must begin from the top; executive’s behavior sets the tone and precedence for the entire company. For this reason, it can be why culture change can be challenging in some organizations. It forces the leadership team to change how they behave, emulating the desired habits and behaviors theyre asking of their employees. While challenging to do, cultural change at the top is possible to accomplish. Case in point, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new CEO. In his first couple of months taking reign as CEO of the multibillion dollar company, and following a cascading series of scandals, Khosrowshahi was well aware of a need for a workplace culture shift. In a LinkedInRather than ditching everything, I’m focused on preserving what works while quickly changing what doesn’t.” His ability to have honest discussions with employees, integrate their feedback, and recognize where change must begin has certainly garnered respect and investment from employees.
Investing in Wellness
Discussions around culture change cannot be fulfilled without the inclusion of your employee’s health and well-being. Wellness programs have become an integral part of any savvy employer’s culture. It should come as no surprise that leaders have recognized the importance of integrating a wellness initiative into their company. Moving from a time in which working longer and harder hours was the telltale sign of a dedicated employee, with little to no focus on workplace well-being, we are now in a time in which burnout of top performers has become a widespread phenomenon. Whether it be from chronic exhaustion or a negative culture in the workplace, it is clear that employee burnout leads to a host of consequences, including disengagement. When employees are disengaged and experiencing burnout, the ramifications can be disastrous to any company. It is far easier to prevent burnout than trying to fix the damage. With work and home life so intertwined in our digital age, it is imperative that leaders invest in the well-being of employees through wellness programs. By creating an environment that helps your employees thrive, you are also instilling a culture that will increase productivity and ensure retention of these valuable assets. Wellness programs are an investment in human capital that improves engagement and performance. This drives successful outcomes for your people and for your business.
As an illustration of the connection between employee health programs and corporate performance, let’s examine the 2015 study by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Companies that incorporate workplace wellness efforts have the ability to apply for various awards and recognition, such as the C. Everett Koop National Health Award. These Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) winners, which entailed companies that have been recognized for their admirable integrated health and safety programs, outperformed the S&P 500 average. Companies that scored high in wellness efforts positively correlated with ‘superior market performance’.
“The results provide evidence that the stock appreciation of companies that are recognized for excellence in health and wellness, safety, or both, out-performs that of other companies that have not been so recognized,” the authors of the study wrote. Additionally noting that the results are “consistent with — and augment — the growing body of work that is associating excellence in health, wellness and safety with superior financial performance in the marketplace.” Instead, leaders should take the time to discover what employees need, defer to experts to customize a program, and participate in the wellness program themselves. When you lead by example, employees are likely to follow suit.
Developing Team Engagement
Take after my former boss the late Steve Jobs and encourage employees and leadership to take walking meetings – send calendar invites and simply move together. In emulating the desired habits and behaviors that you want from your employees, join them on those walking meetings. Engage with them about their day to day – learn about projects and innovations beginning from the ground up. Taking interest and genuinely caring about your employees can go a long way. When your team know that you are invested in them and their job, they have a feeling of accountability and commitment; again, helping to increase your bottom line. Choose to help build staff camaraderie yourself—encourage cross collaboration in your organization, break silos, and help people get to know one another.
Strong Workplace Culture + Healthy Employees + Team Engagement = Better Results
When business leaders are the catalyst behind investing in a strategic, purposeful, and comprehensive approach to culture change in their organization, they are creating an environment in which employees will thrive. When employees feel valued, inspired, and equipped to maintain their well-being, they will be engaged, productive, and happy; all contributing to corporate performance. Investing in the well-being of your team is perhaps the most valuable choice you can make.