The workplace is a microcosm - a tiny world within the world, with its own culture and social norms. Sometimes, further microcosms exist within different departments of the same workplace. This isn’t always negative, because you want your customer-facing staff to be empathetic and your compliance department to be aligned with Australian employment law.
If you’re lucky, your workplace culture was developed from the top-down with expectations to be healthy and collaborative. If you’re even luckier, your workplace actively connects with the outside world where knowledge, skills and information are shared inside and outside of the workplace.
Change is hard
However, once a workplace culture is established, it’s hard to change. Especially if departmental cultures are siloed (or the entire workplace mentality becomes siloed from the outside world). That’s where your skills come in: good HR management is essential to create a more connected and sustainable place where employees perform well.
Before planning for change, go back to basics and remind yourself of the fundamental building blocks of a positive workplace culture. The four points below could also be used to educate the stakeholders you’ll need on your side to successfully develop and implement an improved workplace culture.
1. Humans are (sustainable) resources
For HR professionals, the term ‘human resources’ is ubiquitous, but you may need to remind your business what it means. ‘Human resources’ refers to the wealth of people’s skills - the things they use to create anything, including a successful business environment. The term encompasses a workplace’s technical and soft skills, as well as individual ambitions: what your workers want to do in the future and how they see themselves will have a massive bearing on how they influence your workplace culture.
Importantly, employees need to know that they’re not going to be ‘mined’ until they’re empty, but that within your workplace culture they will be nurtured and made more productive.
2. Businessperson or businessperson?
Businesses need people with different skills and ambitions to function. Looking at your current culture, how many of these things are driven by personality and how many by the nature of your business?
The right mix of people with the right set of ideas can have a considerable impact on the productivity, culture and achievements of a business.
3. What does job satisfaction look like?
Individuals and departments all have their own goals. When they feel connected to the workplace and united in their goals, they’re stronger. It’s easier to meet a deadline or quota when each person in a team does its job.
What’s job satisfaction? Every employee will give you a different answer, but they all want to know they're an essential cog in your business machine.
4. Machines can move mountains
When a team feels strong and happy, it’ll perform in the workplace. That strength can be used to make a difference in the outside world. Recycling, community fundraising and respecting people’s personal lives are all ways to keep a business culture healthy and connected with the outside world.
This energy will feed itself: engaged and fulfilled workers are likely to do more than the bare minimum and to think about how to help others (both in the workplace and in society). And teams that work together to help the outside world will be more likely to help each other in the workplace.
Be the change
The online Master of HR Management at RMIT is designed to help you build your skills and consolidate your knowledge in the ever-changing world of HR.