Running a successful business is no doubt a challenging endeavor in itself. Simultaneously ensuring a sustainable work environment for everyone – that might prove even more difficult. However, what if you instead consider this as a non-zero-sum game, in which both elements positively affect the other? This might seem like an indisputable statement, but as research shows time and again – this is most certainly easier said than done. A lot of businesses fail in being an attractive workplace, exactly because there is a lack of internal harmony in the company. Thus, truly engaging with the people and culture of your business, might just be what you need to get ahead of your competition.


People and Culture

People and culture are often associated with the work of the Human Resources (HR) department of a business. For a lot of employees it might seem like a rather abstract term; one in which they do not have to engage. Be that as it may, both the people and the culture surrounding the people are a fundamental part of any workplace. At its core, it is the human workforce that drives the business forward and ultimately is responsible for its success or failure. Having a workforce that is dissatisfied and distant, can take its toll on both productivity and innovation. In fact, having a team That is to a great extent is engaged with their work, can spike profitability by as much as 21 %, whereas unengaged workers are believed to cost corporations $550 billion each year, in the US alone (Forbes, 2019). This illustrates well, just how important it is to strive for a thriving work environment. A good work culture should be characterized by elements such as teamwork, encouragement, understanding, empathy and emotional support. This requires everyone to be more aware of the people they are surrounded by, and how to interact with each person. The overall goal of this is to improve the way people perform in their job.


How to Improve People Performance

People performance is a two-fold concept, with both an individual and a collective layer. At the individual stage, the idea is to make sure that every employee reaches their own, personal potential. However, as many businesses to a great extent rely on the work of teams, making sure that people work well together, is also of utmost importance. To quote Henry Ford’s well-known saying; “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”, the goal should be to ensure that each individual is equipped with the necessary tools to perform their jobs well so that the team – your business – can reach its highest level of success. This is where efficient performance oversight comes to play. The objective is to measure performance in accordance with the established goals of the business, to identify good progress, and areas where improvement is necessary. This is a helpful strategy because people tend to work better when they have concrete numbers and measures to work from. It might be beneficial to measure performance in all areas of the business, even areas commonly considered less crucial, so that each employee gets a sense of attachment to the overall goal.


How to Achieve a Good Work Culture

In theory, all this sounds good and well, but it might be more difficult to implement in practice. After all, people are just people, and conflicts will undeniably arise at some point. This is why a sustainable work environment is crucial. These are some of the steps you can take to limit unwanted situations, and ensure that the people and culture continue to be the driving forces of your business:


  • Making sure that your business and employees operate from a set of shared values. This means taking the time to figure out what kind of work environment you desire for your business and subsequently making sure that this is clearly communicated to all employees.
  • Committing to fostering team building and effective communication internally in your company. A team that works well together, will be more productive and make more thoughtful decisions. This might require regular check-ups to evaluate the composition of existing teams.
  • Creating an environment that is inclusive, and which does not discriminate towards certain groups or people. All of your employees should be valued equally, despite their different qualifications and personal backgrounds. After all, that is what lies at the core of a diverse and thriving workforce, everyone should be met with openness, and a willingness to understand.
  • Establishing clear goals and acknowledging when these goals are met. Working strategically towards a shared goal increases engagement and teamwork. In another study cited by Forbes (2018), 84 % of employees state that motivation stemming from clearly established goals is one of the single most important driving forces for success in a business.

Spill-Over Effect

Considering how to create a great work environment internally is a good first step, but this is in reality a two-fold scenario; one in which can create a spill-over effect externally as well. Having a team that is confident in their competencies and which works well together, makes everyone pull in the same direction – namely towards the common goal of the business. Together with transparency in relation to measured performance, this could lead to a well-executed business strategy and ultimately higher overall success. A good work culture also aids in identifying and reporting pitfalls and potential errors, through efficient oversight and a general acceptance towards openness. This further increases your business agility, as adapting to external forces is made easier with a strong internal foundation. Furthermore, this also directly translates into customer relations, as your business will have a surplus of both time and means to tackle the demands of your customers and make sure that they are content with the services you provide. These are all reasons why you should consider both the people and culture of your business as driving forces for ultimate success.


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