Why Should a Company Nurture a Supportive People Culture?


When it comes to hiring top talent, you cannot ignore the importance of company culture. As the baby boomers are slowly entering the retirement age, Gen Y is entering the workforce. The most interesting fact with this savvy generation is that they prioritize company culture above anything else, and they can spot a good or a bad company culture from miles away with just a few clicks. Even before you approach or hire a candidate, they have already made up their mind about you. So, be sure to start talking about your company culture across various channels and, even before that, work towards building an awesome company culture. 

But what exactly is company culture? 

Company culture is the attitude and the behaviour of the employees in general. A company work culture can be determined by how employees interact with each other, the values they share, and their views about the company in general. 

As mentioned in Harvard Business Review:

“Culture guides discretionary behaviour, and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is, of course, most of the time.”

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The most interesting fact with this savvy generation is that they prioritize company culture above anything else, and they can spot a good or a bad company culture from miles away with just a few clicks.

You want your employees to be happy because happiness can be translated as productivity in the workplace. But how do you make your employees feel happy if they dread coming to work every morning? That’s where culture comes in. A culture should create a positive environment for the employees, make them happy at work, and not add more stress to their lives even if the nature of the job is stressful. This is why culture matters because it sustains employee happiness and enthusiasm.

At the deepest level, the culture of an organisation is derived from the nature of the employees and management. How are the managers and the leadership team? Are they good or bad? How do they look up to their employees? How employees interact with their peers and customers? The next important factor is the organisation’s relationship with its environment. How is the culture supported by the business strategy, which emotions people are encouraged to express, and which ones are suppressed? All these play an effective role in sharing the organisation’s culture. 

Benefits of having an organisational culture

The core of having an organisational culture is when employees resonate with the organisation’s culture. They feel more attracted to it. Employees who fit in the organisation’s culture tend not only to be happier but are more productive too. 

Company culture is beneficial not only for employees but for employers too. Employees who fit in the right company culture tend to stay longer, ensuring better employee retention. Further, organisations that offer positive culture tend to foster a better relationship between co-workers, employees, and managers. When they share a common goal that aligns with the organisational goal, everyone collaborates and works towards achieving it. 

What is a supportive people culture?

Company culture is unique to its organisation. Among different company cultures, a supportive people culture is the most desired company culture that a company should have. A supportive organisational culture creates a positive social and psychological environment that optimizes overall employee health, safety, and well-being. It helps to foster positive relationships between employees, management, and their work. It is important because a supportive people culture engages everyone in the organisation, which can be interpreted as an increase in productivity. 

Why it is important to have a supportive culture

In our previous article, we have seen how a hiring bias can lead to wrong hiring. A wrong hire can have several detrimental effects on the company culture. It can lead to employee turnover, a bad reputation for the company, and finally, a toxic work culture. On the other hand, a supportive culture means a place of joy, having a sense of purpose, and feeling connected to the people and your work. That’s the kind of workplace everyone wants to work in. This kind of workplace makes every employee happy. As an employer, you will want to build a supportive people culture. But how do you build and nurture it?

How to build and nurture a supportive people culture

To build a supportive work culture, you need to define your core values that have mutual trust, respect, and empathy for each other. As an employer, you may set restrictions and goals, but know that your employees will succeed only when the limits are controlled and nurtured in a supportive culture. We will now take a more in-depth look at different ways to promote a supportive people culture.

Instill teamwork

A supportive culture involves a strong team, and to build one, leaders should go beyond their roles to support their people. For example, managers and supervisors should be willing to pitch in and extend help to their subordinates, even if it means going beyond their job roles. When each person in the team contributes towards a shared goal and extends help to each other, the team emerges as a strong team. 

Hiring practices

Start with hiring the right people. Hiring bias can lead to wrong hires, which can affect the bottom line of the company’s revenue. Instead, devise a hiring strategy, that is skill and aptitude base. Offer fair opportunities to all the candidates without bias taking over your judgment. For example, include at least three people in the hiring process so that there is no scope of discrimination. Each interviewer will have a different perspective and hence will make it a fair evaluation. Encourage the candidate to speak candidly during the interview. Hear them out before you talk about your organisational culture and your expectations. 

Integrity, honesty, and empathy are traits that you should look for in your desired candidates. Design scenario-based interview questions and test how they would react. Are they dealing with a lot of empathy? Can you identify integrity as a trait? 

Retention strategies

Employee retention should be a part of the active strategy towards building a supportive culture. For example, employees must have access to enough leaves to take care of their personal life. Managers and supervisors should make conscious efforts not to disturb employees when they are on leaves. In short, a culture should be built where employees are respected. And when the whole organisation works towards this, top talents are retained, and new talents are attracted. After all, everyone wishes to work in such an organisation where they are respected and heard.

Onboarding programs

How you onboard your employees leave a lasting impression on the mind of your employees. Design an onboarding program that helps the employee to settle down in the new environment well. Imbibe your company culture and values from the first day. Right from the employee handbook to onboarding process, leave an impression that you care. Be genuine in your efforts, and you will just turn an employee into a happy and engaged employee. 

Performance management

Performance management can significantly affect company culture and vice versa. Employees who receive constructive and timely feedback, share a clear goal and have a clear outline of what is expected from them tend to outperform their peers who work in environments that lack cohesiveness or shared common goals. HR leaders must draft a well-planned performance management system to nurture a supportive people culture.

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How you onboard your employees leave a lasting impression on the mind of your employees. Design an onboarding program that helps the employee to settle down in the new environment well.

Communication

Communication is not just a useful tool to keep your employees engaged. But it is also a very powerful way to build a collaborative and supportive people culture. Organisations that practice open and transparent communication, encourage two-way communication, reinforce their trust in their employees, and succeed in building a positive people-oriented culture. Thus, organisations must invest significant time and money in nurturing a strong communication framework within the organisation.

Be open to feedback

One of the important ways to build a supportive culture is welcoming feedback and concerns of your people. Organisation leaders must not restrict themselves to open door policy and reach out to their people to gather thoughts. This also circles back to the open communication framework. The purpose remains the same to gain the employees’ trust so that they feel safe to share their concerns, ideas, feedback, and praise.

Investing in the well-being of the employees

Organisations that invest in workplace culture find it a lot more comfortable to earn their people’s trust. Employees feel supported when they see that their organisations are concerned and continuously invest in their well-being. Jennifer Encinger, counsellor and manager with Fairview’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), says, “I think the biggest thing people need to feel supported at work is, knowing that their company is invested in them as people. If an employee feels their company cares about them and is loyal to them, he or she is more likely to be loyal to the company.”

Consider national culture

Managers and decision-makers should also take into account the national culture in which the company operates while framing the company culture. Managers must be well-versed with communication styles and national cultures when communicating with their team members.

Traits of a supportive people culture 

Do you have a supportive culture? How do you know you have a supportive culture? Know the different traits of a supportive people culture.

           You have a positive work environment: Conduct a survey and find how your employees feel about their work environment. Are your managers capable of resolving conflicts among team members and building a holistic and productive work culture?

          Invest in the personal development of the employees: Are you investing enough in the personal development of your people? Are they satisfied with these initiates or there is a scope to do more? Asking your people and conducting surveys can help you to gauge your current standing.

         Do you work actively towards investing in the personal developments of the employees? Do your EAP counsellors work closely with employees to assist them in bringing in any behavioural changes? If so, you are doing it just right!

Measure, tweak and move on.

Assessing the organisational culture is a crucial step to help you maintain the culture that you’re building. Whatever changes you bring in the workplace or introduce new programs to support people’s culture, it is important to measure the outcome. That’s the only proven way to understand if you are on the right path. But how do you measure culture? One way to do it is to identify key metrics like the values, degree of hierarchy, people and task orientations, etc., and conduct surveys or focus group discussions around these matrices. Try to gauge how your people feel about these pointers.

An ideal culture survey should cover the following:

Cultural assessment: employees should be able to rate the organisation’s culture and raise their concerns and praise. Involve and encourage everyone in the organisation to take part in the survey.

Analyse the result: HR leaders and key management stakeholders should sit together and analyse the survey results. Find out what is going well and what are the areas of improvement. Ensure you communicate the findings and the next step to your people.

When an organisation has a supportive work culture, it is likely to thrive and grow because employees who believe in the culture will stick around and grow together with the organisation’s growth. What culture is your organisation following? Time for a reality check.

Suresh Chouksey
Suresh Chouksey
Suresh was former staff at Dutch Uncles, he writes on entrepreneurship, start-ups, business life cycle and small businesses.

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