Corporate Culture through the Lens of Time
In our hyper-competitive business world, organisations are struggling to stand out from the crowd and build their own unique brand: corporates are focusing on developing a distinct and significant company culture as a trademark of their company.
Every organisation is looking to attract the best talent in the market. It is evident that top-notch employees provide a sustainable competitive edge for companies. To be successful in attracting great talent, organisations need to dive into how to create an outstanding workplace culture. The Generation Z is not just concerned about getting their basic needs met (financial perks), but they are also looking for personal growth - they are working not just for remuneration but also for advancement and personal development. While this mindset leads to growth opportunities for employees, it forces companies to reinvent their organizational culture to keep up with the changing times.
There have been various iterations in the understanding of workplace culture since the Industrial Revolution, till date. Let us have a look at what a workplace culture is and the developments occurred in this domain.
“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” - Simon Sinek
The evolution of Work Culture
In simple terms, workplace culture is termed as a combination of the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that employees demonstrate at the workplace. A good and healthy workplace culture is the building block of any successful organisation.
During the Industrial Revolution, in the early 1800s, the dominant characteristics of the workplace culture included Control, Micro management and Authoritarian Leadership. The formal study of workplace culture was conducted by Eliott Jacques in 1951. Edgar Schein came up with his model of organizational culture in 1980. In 1999 Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron introduced their Competing Values Framework of organizational culture.
The birth of Happiness in the Workplace
In the 2000s various research papers were published regarding the workplace culture - the link between increasing productivity and good workplace culture was explored. During the same time, Zappos company (online retailer) came into the spotlight by gaining popularity for their healthy workplace culture while doing well in terms of profits.
The CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh had a vision for his company to have a workplace with the purpose of delivering happiness. What better way to determine workplace culture than by asking the employees themselves? In a survey, he and the team asked employees about what values Zappos should develop. After narrowing down these values, they came up with ten core values for Zappos.
One glance at their values and one understands that they are a perfect representation for people-centric workplace culture. In his book Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh says “...to make sure I never lost sight of the value of a tribe where people truly felt connected and cared about the well-being of one another.”
The importance of Human-Centric Workplaces
Following the trend of creating a happy workplace culture, different companies like Google, Amazon, Apple worked on developing their workplace cultures. During this time various consulting firms emerged who prioritized developing healthy workplace cultures.
Highlighting the importance of a good workplace culture, in 2006, the renowned management consultant Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
These days, company culture has shifted its focus from being authoritarian and controlling to responsive to employees needs and growth.
Research emphasizes the importance of how happy teams and a healthy workplace environment leads to increase in productivity and lower absenteeism and reduced turnover rates. Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM also acknowledged the importance of workplace culture saying that - “Culture isn't just one aspect of the game; it is the game. In the end, an organisation is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”
According to a survey by Gallup nearly 85% of the employees worldwide are feeling actively disengaged at the workplace. This is an alarming fact. In the near future, the workplace needs to become a place where employees could be at their best.
The future workplace cultures need to be people-centric, responsive and sensitive to employees’ needs. The office needs to be a place where employees find their work to be meaningful, where they could exercise their strengths and have fulfilling relationships with colleagues. A place where their supervisors would be a helpful mentor and contribute to their personal growth and development.
The secret to attract the best talent will always lie on the capacity of organizations to make workplaces that employees can call home. Work cultures are constantly in evolution and each iteration will make more from human-centric.