In the past three years, we have had to prepare for the unexpected. We could not have predicted how the pandemic would affect our workplaces. But we adjusted. Uncertainty at work increases anxiety among employees and leaders. How can we create the optimal conditions for psychological security, a shared belief that team members are free to share ideas, voice concerns, and take risks? The first step is to nail the workplace culture.
It is our responsibility as leaders to set an example that will create a workplace that everyone wants to work in. The first step is to explore the essential elements of the workplace culture and how they can best be optimized in order to create an inclusive, positive work environment that promotes the psychological security necessary for great work. The essential elements of workplace cultures will vary depending on the organization. However, they usually include diversity, equity and inclusion, communication, collaboration, trust, accountability, respect, and innovation.
Our shared values affect how people interact while aligning themselves with the mission and goals of an organization. If the workplace culture comes first, organizations can achieve more. When employees feel safe in the workplace, they believe that they will not be humiliated or punished for being themselves. This encourages open and honest discussions about ideas, concerns and mistakes.
When we cultivate a workplace culture that fosters psychological safety, success in the organization follows. Here are some ways that success can manifest itself:
Ability to retain and attract talent: A positive, inclusive work environment helps retain and attract top talent. Productivity and performance are enhanced: A positive work environment creates a workplace where employees feel empowered and motivated to do their best. Trust and reputation. A positive, inclusive work environment helps to build trust between employees, stakeholders, and the community. Alignment of values and mission: A positive work environment helps employees align with the organization’s mission and values, fostering a shared sense of purpose and commitment towards achieving goals. This leads to greater success.
It's never too late to make changes in workplace culture. Leaders are key to changing workplace culture.
Here's my list of the best practices to create a positive, inclusive work environment:
Encourage open communication and feedback to promote a culture that values respect, inclusion and accountability. Support employee growth and development by modeling positive behaviors and values. Encourage an open and honest dialogue to foster a feeling of belonging. Establish clear goals and metrics to improve DEI. Transparency and accountability are key: Be open and honest about your organization's decisions and actions. Set clear expectations and goals for your employees and provide regular feedback. Encourage flexible scheduling and work-life balance. Offer opportunities for growth and professional development. Encourage a culture that values respect and empathy. Recognize the contributions and achievements of employees. Mental and physical health resources should be provided.
Both psychological safety and authenticity play a crucial role in defining workplace culture. It starts with kindness and a safe environment in which everyone can be themselves. Your team's progress may be hindered if they are not comfortable being themselves in the workplace. This is also out of alignment with your values. We can only do our best when we feel heard and seen.