An organization is constituted by people from diverse backgrounds. Each individual brings in his/her beliefs or traditions into it. Different employees can be viewed as ‘vectors’ moving in various directions. The objective of the organization is to synergize these diverse forces to achieve a common goal which is the growth of the organization. A culture code provides a common direction to enable the Company to move forward.
What is Culture code?
Culture Code of an organization can be understood as those systems and behaviors that are unique to it.
What type of Culture code is perceived as the best?
- A culture code that guides an organization towards its goals by effectively utilizing its resources is considered the best.
- Individual efforts are considered on the basis of the output produced rather than the number of hours logged in.
- Results should be measured based on the performance rather than opinions.
- The goals of the organization should be aligned with the needs of the clients.
- The organization should provide a stable and comfortable environment for its employees.
The organization should be ready to learn from its mistakes. Any mistake committed should be documented and should serve as a lesson for the future.
The Culture Code of an organization translates into the office culture that prevails in it.
What is the meaning of office culture?
Office culture can be understood as the ‘personality’ of an office. Office culture cannot be physically defined. It is essentially the ‘aura’ of the organization which distinguishes it from others. It is the principles, traditions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors shared by the group. ‘Group’ here implies the employees as well as the management.
The culture of an organization is influenced by the experiences individual employees bring in to it. The culture of an organization takes birth when it is established. It depends on the values and ethics of the founders and owners. It further takes shape as more and more employees join in and bring in their beliefs and attitudes.
In fact, office culture plays its part even in the selection of employees. Employees are selected based on whether they fit into the existing culture or not.
Significance of organizational culture code
A positive office culture attracts the right employees, retains them, and also motivates them to perform. These factors, in turn, impact the productivity of the organization. Hence, it is necessary to understand the needs of your employees and develop a culture which promotes a healthy and motivated workforce.
Let us now see the factors that influence the culture code:
The important leaders influence the culture. It is based on their interactions with the team, how they communicate, decision-making abilities, practices they follow, etc.
At the inception stage, an organization defines its vision. The vision of an organization can be understood as it defining what it envisages. This outline provides a framework for the organizational culture. After this, the mission is specified-which is how the company intends achieving its vision. Next, the values are defined, which guide the actions of the members of the organization. This, in turn, translates into the beliefs and culture.
- Organizational Structure:
Another important factor that influences the culture is the structure of the organization. The structure is aligned to meet the organizational goals. This entails the hierarchy and controls with various leaders. Office culture also depends upon the degree to which the managers empower their subordinates.
- Practices and Procedures:
The practices and procedures such as the systems, recruitment practices, training programs, compensation practices, rewards, and recognition, leave policies, etc.
Besides it also is influenced by the attendance, dress code, code of conduct, etc.
- Ambience of the workplace:
The environment of the workplace also has its part to play in the work culture. It depends on the hygiene maintained, space allocation, furniture, artifacts, etc. in the premises. Other physical factors such as what the employees place on their desks, how the organization decorates its interiors, etc. also affect the culture.
They are the most valuable resource for any organization. The employees bring a set of values, beliefs, behaviors, skills, and experiences which shape the culture of the office. The culture of an office is also influenced by aspects such as how they communicate, dress, how disciplined they are, whether they adhere to the office timings, etc. Besides, it also includes factors such as the communication and transparency shared between the employees and the leaders, etc.
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How to nurture an ideal type of Office Culture?
An ideal organizational culture is that in which the employees are happy and comfortable at their workplace. Besides this, the leaders are satisfied with the performance of the team. And, the employees and management work cohesively towards the attainment of the objectives of the company.
A study of some organizations that are popular employers reveals certain common features in their culture code:
- Open communication channels
Open and clear communication is the basis of any relationship. It is also instrumental in establishing healthy employer-employee relations. Those organizations that encourage open communication between employees and between employees and management have shown good camaraderie in the organization. This makes the environment relatively stress-free and light.
If an organization is transparent in its dealings, it encourages loyalty among the employees. It is also a good practice to include employees in the decision making process. This motivates employees.
Organizations, whose culture is appreciated, generally empower their employees to innovate and work without micromanagement. The leaders trust their subordinates and they are given complete responsibility.
Recognizing and rewarding merit in an unbiased manner is another factor that gives the employees a sense of belongingness to the organization.
- A sense of belongingness
Since it is a normal practice to select individuals who fit into the culture of the organization, it is a good idea to provide the employees a sense of security and belongingness. This can be done by communicating, collaborating and aligning their interests.
- Team before self
The importance of teamwork should be stressed. The employees should be encouraged to align their personal goals with the company’s objectives. The ideal culture will have all members of the organization to be driven by a common purpose rather than money. Healthy competition should be encouraged while discouraging negative/cut-throat competition.
One thing constant in the business world is change. Changes are experienced in technologies used, the attitude of people, changes in the stock market, etc. Hence, the organization should be adaptable to these changes and the culture should accommodate the changed systems and perspectives.
An organization that provides its employees an opportunity to learn and grow fosters a greater level of loyalty. They are motivated to perform and provide results.
Most companies whose culture is appreciated take the effort to ensure that it is not going off-track. One of the ways to do this is by taking regular feedback from employees, exit interviews, etc. to know how the employees perceive the environment of the organization. If it is found lacking, corrective action is taken.
Organizations that include these features in their culture have shown that their employees have a higher level of commitment. In such Companies the attrition level is low; employees are motivated and contribute to the objectives of the organization. Additionally, the environment in the office is comfortable. All these factors enhance the productivity of the organization.
An organization may be perceived as having a bounded or detached culture. It is a good idea to analyze the culture of your organization and see where it features.
Features and Demerits of a bad organizational culture
There are certain characteristics that indicate that the culture of an organization needs improvement.
- Unethical behavior of leaders
If the leaders follow unethical practices for the sake of increasing their profits, these practices percolate down to the employees. This creates a negative environment.
- Poor communication between the employees
A red signal indicating a bad culture is when there is a lack of open communication between the members of the organization.
- Lack of Discipline
Indiscipline in any kind of behavior in the organization indicates poor culture.
- A highly competitive environment
In organizations with poor culture, there will be cut-throat competition among employees.
- High Attrition
When there is a negative environment in an organization, more employees will tend to leave it.
- No transparency
Most organizations where responsibility is not given to the team members and there is micro-management have poor culture.
If an organization sees any of these warning signs, it is time that the culture is improved. This is because these signals can lead to valuable employees leaving the organization; it can also lead to losing clients, etc. Besides, it is a cause for lowering the quality of output of the organization.
Office Culture in Indian Organizations
The traditional office culture in Indian offices had a clear-cut hierarchy, employees addressing their superiors as ‘Sir’, etc. Besides this employees came dressed in formal attire. Those who logged in more hours were considered hardworking. There was no transparency. The employees followed “Boss is always right” approach. Although most manufacturing and financial firms still hold on to the same pattern, it is the IT sector that has shown drastic changes.
Since globalization, the foreign investments in India have grown. This has given rise to numerous start-ups. The advancements in technology have propelled the growth of the IT sector. This has completely transformed the organizational culture.
The working conditions in the digital age have shifted from being ‘output centric’ to ‘employee centric’.
Let us see some of the changes seen in the culture code in the Digital Age:
- Flexible working hours
Employers are no longer interested in what time an employee comes in or goes as long as he completes the tasks assigned to him/her.
- Casual dressing
Employees now come to office in the attire they are comfortable in. There are no rigid dress codes.
The employees are given the onus for their work. Taking pride in completing a responsibility works as a motivator.
- Ergonomic office designs
Offices are designed and furnished so that they provide comfortable working conditions to employees. The office is set-up such that it is welcoming to the employees.
- Healthy competition
By recognizing and rewarding merit, organizations encourage healthy competition among employees. This helps them stay motivated.
- Open Communication
These companies have bid goodbye to the hierarchical approach by opening channels of free and open communication. This builds confidence in employees. Employees address each other and their superiors by name making their interactions informal. Besides it also leads to innovation as individuals are encouraged to express their creative ideas.
Many organizations assign mentors to new joiners to guide them through their tasks. This helps make the employee comfortable in the new set up.
- Recreational facilities
Many companies offer recreational facilities to employees to de-stress during their break time. Besides this, some offices also allow their employees the use of headphones to listen to music while working.
Some organizations offer canteen facilities either free of charge or at subsidized rates.
In order to encourage working mothers, organizations offer crèche facilities for babies on their premises.
- Working from Home
Thanks to the internet employees are now offered the facility to work from home as and when it is a mutually feasible option.
However, not all IT companies follow all these features. The office culture in India is evolving and adapting to the changing times. Most companies have adopted a culture that is an amalgamation of both, traditional as well as contemporary cultures.
The need for nurturing a culture change in the digital age
All traditional businesses are facing a digital disruption globally. Businesses are adopting digital means. The transition to new technologies will be smooth only if the culture of the organization adapts itself. This is because ‘Culture’ is one of the principal factors for digital transformation.
In order to nurture cultural change in the digital age, an organization needs to:
- Avoid Bureaucratic silos
- Become Flexible
- Become Responsive
Each organization starts with its own set of principles which help form its basic culture. As more employees join, the culture undergoes changes. An ideal culture code should not remain rigid but be ready to modify its norms according to the changes in the society. The digital transformation has completely revolutionized the way businesses operate. In order to keep pace with it, an organization needs to adopt a culture that is aligned with it. However, the core values of the company should not be compromised at any cost.