How HR can help build a culture that helps people thrive

by Contributor28 Mar 2017
Culture really is the glue that holds organisations together. However, with so many toxic workplaces out there, Mark Pallot and Evelyn Jackson outline how HR can help build a culture that helps people thrive

Culture brings meaning to breakfast. Perhaps that’s a nod to the past famous Drucker quote … or is it acknowledging the future because this next generation of workers is looking for more than just pay and benefits? Either way, it’s a faster game now, with more players, more levels and more reward and recognition demands from the work itself. This generation is looking for a culture with meaningful work at the heart.

Yes, employees today are brand loyal despite contrary opinions; however, it’s simply not in the same way as before. Millennials in particular are more fickle with brands that fail to appeal to their personality and who they truly are. Clarity and transparency are what is important. Employees want to be clear about why they work for a particular organisation, understanding the core purpose and ensuring they are aligned to it.

At the heart of culture are the values of the organisation. Cultures with true alignment between the organisation’s core purpose and the values it lives by unveil meaning and belief. Creating a culture with meaning drives organisations to enable meaningful work, meaningful leadership and meaningful workplaces.

Personal connection to the work Employees today are looking for purpose and belief in what they do every day. They need connection to the organisation and its purpose.

The work they do every day must make a difference to the organisation’s achievements and the impact of their achievements must be evident for them and the people they work with. Enabling meaningful work starts with the design of the work itself and aligning the purpose of each role to the purpose of the organisation as a whole. Understanding individual passions and the type of work that deeply connects is the first step to ensuring the work has meaning. Then it’s about challenging individuals with the work they do and enabling a culture of continuous learning to appease curiosity and development inherent in the workforce today.

Belief built on trust
Although culture is defined and shaped by all, it is the leaders who play a key influencing role when designing a culture to retain its best talent. The connection leaders have with their teams plays a significant part in how loyal employees are to the organisation and in turn their appetite to stay and continue to deliver above expectations.

Employees are also searching for authenticity when it comes to leadership. They expect their leaders to be human. That means being honest with themselves and their teams on a daily basis, asking as much as directing, questioning as much as praising, learning as much as teaching. When a leader is real in this way, their teams believe in what is being asked of them and start to trust and believe in the leader.

To achieve this level of authenticity demands a culture of leaders who are not judged, where teams are empowered and accountable and where courage is celebrated and teamwork rewarded above individual praise. The policies, processes and the fabric of the organisation based on these inherent values and principles result in meaning.

An environment where alignment of values is possible
Having genuine relationships at your workplace is possible when employees feel safe and are able to bring all of themselves to work. Not some professional or work persona to dress against similar to the clothes they wear each day.

Organisations can become highly political in nature, and often there are environments where individuals act a certain way in order to match what they believe the company and their leaders want to see. Encourage your employees to bring all of themselves to work, avoid judgment and remove politics from the environment. Nurture a workplace where behaviour expectations are communicated and adhered to, because the people you hire inherently match the values of the organisation – with no judgment on who they are, what drives them, what their dreams are, what they wish they had accomplished already and what they want to do once they leave your organisation.

True authenticity is only possible when employees can be themselves to gain a deep connection with the people, the leaders and the organisation as a whole. Genuine loyalty occurs here because the people they have around them matter more. The culture is perceived as too valuable for risk elsewhere.

The workforce of today is looking for connection in the work they do, belief in the leaders they work with and belief in the organisations they work for. They are looking for a culture with a meaningful breakfast – and that is just the beginning.

Corporate Crayon is powering company culture through employee energy by changing the relationship people have with work to attract, motivate and retain the emerging workforce. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and see more of what we do on

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