Positive vs negative organisation culture

18 November 2022

The average person spends over a third of their waking hours either at work or thinking about work. That’s equivalent to 14 years over a 40-year career.  

Our work becomes our second home, and the people we work with form an important part of our relationships outside of our immediate family.  

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the environment in which people spend so much of their time is crucial to their well-being, performance, loyalty, and attitude to work.  

When we talk of culture in an organisation, we are actually referring to the method of communication or the norms of interaction.  How we interact and collaborate with each other at work defines our overall work culture.  We often talk of a toxic culture in organisations without defining it or actually appreciating the root cause of this toxicity.

An organisation that has open channels of communication and that encourages collaboration and inclusivity will have a positive culture and will, in turn, have positive, focused, and loyal members of staff. Conversely, an organisation that has strict and controlled lines of communication with rigid and siloed teams will have an adversarial culture where information is controlled and traded in order to gain or maintain power within the organisation (usually through gossip and rumour), this is what we mean by toxic culture.  

The good news is that a culture or toxicity can be changed if the leaders within the organisation have the will and determination to do so.  By breaking down the siloes, encouraging open lines of communication, making information open for all to access and participate in, and involving people in the decision-making process there will be an immediate impact on the culture of the organisation and this will lead to more positive, engaged and happier staff.  

Why is this important?

The global pandemic gave everyone time to reflect on their jobs and careers and to think about what is important for them, their families, and their mental health.  As a result, people have been setting new priorities for what they look for in a job and a company.  

At the top of their list of priorities, ahead of pay or promotion, is a positive work culture.  In a recent survey of 1,000 employees in the UK more than 90% stated that they would be willing to leave their existing position if the company culture wasn’t what they expected and 80% of male respondents said that company culture was one of the top priorities when looking for work.  

Given how much it costs to hire and train each employee, it is crucial that, as a leader, you do everything you can to retain your talent and if they are now prioritising work culture over everything else, it is crucial that you focus your attention on this aspect of your organisation, otherwise they will look elsewhere to fulfil that priority, if they aren’t already! 

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