Welcome back to the 2nd part series in posts about cultivating a positive work culture in Pakistan. Previously, we talked about the reasons how stress in the workplace occurs and why too much of it is bad.
Today we’ll be detailing the steps that can turn Pakistani workplaces into a much welcoming stop should the management and the organization’s HR introduce a good working environment for all stakeholders.
Positive Work Culture
What do we mean by a ‘positive’ work culture? Simply put, it is a place with a set of values, norms, features and perks that make you look forward to it every working day. It’s a place where your skills, talent and your focus is used to its maximum, a place that appreciates you for what you bring to the table. A place where employees’ rights are enforced and there are avenues available for professional growth.
Most of all, it’s a workplace that treats you as a human being.
Generally, Pakistani companies like to think that giving some perks (like a gym or pool) to employees is all there is to make a workplace ‘cool.’ They may even give benefits such as flexible timings or work-at-home to employees. But here’s the issue.
A positive work culture is only possible if engagement with employees is there. It’s the one thing that makes well being of employees happen. No amount of material or workplace benefits can replace that.
The onus on ushering in a great change at the workplace rests with supervisors, team leaders and pretty much the managers. Here are a few principles that they need to apply in order to bring about a positive work culture:
- Providing support for your team, especially those who are struggling. There is a place for kindness in the workplace too.
- Caring for, and taking responsibility for having colleagues as friends. Abusing your senior position doesn’t make you or your company better.
- Avoid the blame game and forgiving mistakes.
- Letting your team know how meaningful their work is to you and for themselves as well.
- Gratitude. Integrity. Respect.
- Inspiring and helping each other as a team.
Sounds daunting? Let’s distill these principles into 4 simple steps:
1. Build Social Connections
Extroverts know this, but this one goes out to the social introverts at work. The more people you’re at ease with at work and enjoy a positive working relationship with, the more desirable your workplace becomes. As a boss, it’s your prerogative to go out of your way and make introverts feel at home. Help them become familiar with the place, the people, the whole works. People actually want to turn up at work because it doesn’t feel like a grind. People learn faster, are more mentally alert, deliver better job performance. Excessive absenteeism is… absent.
According to a study by the University of California, it was found that people were more likely to die early by obesity (20%), smoking (50%), and poor social relationships (70%). That last aspect, in particular, highlights how toxic workplaces with stress affect social relationships and in essence, life expectancy. It is said that an average person spends one-third of their lives in the workplace, which puts everything in stark focus.
For ego-filled and insecure bosses who think they’re immune to this, think again. When members of your team keep leaving, the company can ill-afford to have someone like you at the helm. What goes around does definitely come around.
2. Empathy is Key
How your employees feel about you is, frankly, entirely up to you. A scientific study on brain-imaging found that employees who recall a petty and jealous team leader saw their brain areas associated with negative emotion and avoidance light up. When the same employees were asked about a kinder boss, the opposite was witnessed in the brain scans.
In fact, when the company is undergoing challenging times, it was found that leaders with compassionate qualities were more likely to be supported than those with zero empathy, according to a study at CompassionLab.
3. Help Out and Help More
As managers, most of us think to ourselves, ‘hey we worked our @#%^& off for this!’ and think that the universe finally owes them a break. If they feel that their time is spent better off giving out orders and checking out OLX listings for the rest of the day, then, unfortunately, they’re mistaken. Employees don’t feel appreciated or loyal with such a person at the helm.
On the other hand, employees have a soft corner for a self-sacrificing boss, where they are actually inspired to help out each other. The whole team reinforces a ‘we’ve got each other’s backs’ cycle, which makes for collaborative and cooperative team.
4. Listen to Employees and Be Easy to Talk To
A leader that is trusted and has your best interests at heart will be pleasantly surprised to find that their employees perform well. This is because they feel safe, secure and not fearful of being blamed. Only a leader that is humble, open-minded and encouraging can get their team to open up about their triumphs and challenges.
As Pakistanis, we’re often dismissive of our penchant for lethargy and kicking work aside. But if we dig a little deeper, we’ll be sure to find how a negative workplace is to blame for this. Empathy, relatability, offering a helping hand and building social connections make positive work culture an achievable outcome.