February 6, 2019

Workplace Culture

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” We’ve all heard this famous quote, thanks to Peter Drucker. He said it in a time when culture (people) was overlooked by organizational strategy (vision & goals). You can imagine the adverse reactions he probably received in his time with that statement. Fast forward to today where culture IS a strategy that companies are paying big money for. Today, organizations are leading with culture to better inform their strategy and operations. When companies focus on culture, it boosts morale, people are more productive, and the workplace is more enjoyable, so people tend to stick longer with the company. This focus, in turn, produces higher employee retention, productivity, and revenue growth. Wanting to know how others are addressing culture, we asked for your feedback. Here’s what you had to say.

How would you describe your culture at work?

The top categories used to describe workplace culture were friendly and personal, fun, easy-going, and disciplined. There was also a strong emphasis around cultures that enable personal and professional growth.

What is your company doing to build culture at work?

Companies are planning group travel and city exploration outings, happy hours, and group lunches as fun activities to do together. Organizations are also building non-hierarchical cultures by investing in democratic office layouts and furniture (e.g., no enclosed offices, benching stations, etc.) and allowing employees of any level to participate in company decisions. Another way companies are building culture is through leadership actively being friendly and personable with everyone.

What challenges has your company encountered as it relates to building culture?

Nearly half of respondents indicated maintaining culture through rapid business growth as their number one challenge. Other key challenges were building culture while being extremely busy, effectively onboarding new hires, and bridging generational gaps within an office.

In what ways are you personally contributing to your culture at work?

People are personally contributing to culture by attending company culture events and actively bonding with coworkers. Individuals are also paying attention to their behavior by being honest, open, and inclusive, and aligning their behavior with company values. Other key habits people practice are celebrating team and individual efforts and initiating dialogue to openly discuss culture.

In what ways is leadership contributing to your culture at work?

According to respondents, leadership is encouraging teamwork and open communication, they practice what they preach, initiate flex work hours, give autonomy to those under them, and are creating leadership programs to instill the right values in their future leaders of the company.

In what ways are your peers contributing to your culture at work?

Coworkers are contributing to workplace culture by attending company culture events, offering feedback on ways to build culture, and by sharing personal stories and interests to bond with each other.

As you can see, workplace culture is everything you experience at work. It’s the people — who they are and their habits. It’s the environment — your work space and its impact on behavior. It’s the way people communicate and collaborate with one another. And it’s those fun initiatives to help deepen connections with coworkers. If you think you’re stuck with a certain culture at your company because “that’s just how things are here,” remember that culture is something you can create or change given the right support and tactics.

Chelsea Connolly | SKG Workplace Strategist | IIDA Associate, IIDA Austin City Center Sustainability Chair, WELL AP

SKG is a Knoll furniture dealer in Austin, Texas and San Antonio. We specialize in workplace design and furniture. Chelsea Connolly, our Workplace Strategist, sends out monthly surveys to our clients, design firms, followers, and the community to gauge current perspectives on workplace design. Each month has a different theme. After gathering data, we summarize our findings and share it out on social media. Please enjoy our first article in our 2018 ‘Survey & Summary’ series. If you’d like to be a part of these monthly surveys, please email Chelsea at cconnolly@skgtexas.com. All graphics provided by Danielle Zayas.

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