What is workplace culture and why should you take it seriously?

Posted by Tegan Kavanagh | December - 11 - 2020 | 0 Comment

Workplace culture can be defined as a combination of shared beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours that shape the way an organisation and its employees function.

Every single business has a culture, however, the main factor that sets successful companies apart from the rest is that they have actively nurtured and cultivated a strong culture within their firms.

A strong culture begins with leadership clearly outlining their expectations, values and goals of the business, and then actively communicating these aspects to both current and prospective employees.

This creates an environment where everyone understands what is expected of them, and behave accordingly.

Here are a few added benefits that you can expect to see when you cultivate a strong, positive workplace culture:


1. Increased employee morale and engagement

Arguably the fundamental impact that organisational culture has on a firm is its ability to create high employee morale and engagement. As you will see in the later points, this impact creates a positive spillover effect on many aspects of an organisation.

Employee morale encompasses an employee’s attitude, job satisfaction, and overall perspective of the organisation in which they work for. When morale is high, employees are happier and more engaged in their work because they genuinely enjoy being there.

Organisational culture has a massive influence on employee morale because it determines how employees are interacting with one another and how their efforts are applauded, as well as the overall atmosphere within the workplace. A positive workplace culture is one that fosters teamwork, trust and respect amongst staff.

Cultivating a culture where wins are celebrated and collaboration is encouraged can boost morale and engagement within the workplace.

Employees are more likely to strive for greatness when they feel supported, when their values align with those of the company, and when they believe that their efforts will be noticed and appreciated.


2. Increased organisational citizenship behaviours and performance

Having a strong workplace culture that develops engaged employees is the foundation for any successful business as research suggests that it can further contribute to organisational performance.

As mentioned earlier, a positive workplace culture influences employee job satisfaction. This in turn can lead to what researchers refer to as organisational citizenship behaviours.

Organisational citizenship behaviour is often defined as the actions that employees undertake voluntarily that surpass their formal role and are not stated in their job description.

These behaviours are considered as “going above and beyond”, and are very beneficial to businesses as they support the social and psychological aspects of the company.

Millennials in the work place

For example, when a workplace culture focuses on making employees feel valued and supported, these employees are more likely “go above and beyond” by offering to help a co-worker out with their heavy workload, or actively try to preserve company resources to help the company save money.

This citizenship behaviour stems from an employee’s genuine engagement in their organisation. They are willing to go the extra mile because their values align to those of the company and they genuinely want the business to succeed.

Having employees who engage in organisational citizenship behaviours then further adds to the positive culture, as employees are seen helping one another without expecting anything in return, which will improve interpersonal relationships within the workplace.

In a study conducted by McKinsey, it was found that organisations ranked highly in the Organisational Health Index demonstrated a return to stakeholders that was 60% higher than those with moderate Organisational Health, and 200% higher than those with low Organisational Health.

Simply put, this is because positive workplace cultures enhance workplace environments, drive collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees, and create engaged and satisfied staff.

Inversely, negative workplace cultures lower organisational productivity because staff members drag themselves to work, have no desire to be there, and tend to do the bare minimum whilst counting down the hours until they can clock out.

Negative workplace cultures can also result in unhealthy competitive behaviours and an “every man for themselves” mentality amongst colleagues which can severely stifle problem-solving and innovation.


3. Enables successful adaptation

In today’s workforce, staying ahead of the competition (or simply staying afloat) involves being able to make changes and adapt quickly and effectively. This has been emphasised during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a multitude of businesses shut their doors both temporarily and permanently.

Research from McKinsey has found that 70% of business transformations have failed due to poor workplace culture. Based on the previous points made, it is clear to see why this is the case.

If your employees are focused on their own goals and have an “every man for themselves” attitude, they are simply not aligning to the overall objective of the company (which ideally, is to be productive in what they do).

In times of change, teamwork, support and collaboration are paramount if you want your organisational transformation to succeed and provide long lasting results. Therefore, a positive workplace culture is extremely important for the adaptation of organisational change.



4. Lower turnover rates and absenteeism

Not only can a negative, cut-throat workplace culture stifle performance and change, it can also lead to workplace stress, which is something you absolutely want to avoid in your workplace.

According to the Harvard Business Review, stress within the workplace can increase voluntary turnover rates by up to 50% which can have substantial costs associated with the loss of productivity, expertise in recruitment and training of replacement employees.

On top of this, organisational culture is becoming increasingly important to job seekers, with 32% of new hires quitting within the first 90 days of employment due to a poor culture fit. This is for obvious reasons!

The average person spends 13 years and 2 months at work within their lifetime, and if they are clocking overtime, they can expect to add up to 1 year and 2 months on top of that.

With that much time spent at work, you would hope to enjoy being there, and if a workplace culture is toxic, this would certainly not be the case for employees.

A negative culture can also increase absenteeism within the workplace, with 25% of employees taking time off from work each year due to workplace stress. Circling back to the aforementioned benefits of a positive culture, the running theme is that positive cultures create engaged, happy, valued and supported employees within the workplace.

When employees are satisfied within their work, and are uplifted by their managers and colleagues, they are less likely to feel the impacts of work related stress. This means that they are less likely to leave the organisation or take time off work due to stress.



Overall, every facet of an organisation’s functioning links back to the state of its culture. The primary benefit of having a strong positive workplace culture is that it creates engaged employees who enjoy coming to work.

This is achieved through creating an encouraging work environment that supports teamwork, trust and respect amongst employees and management.

When this type of atmosphere is present within a workplace, it can lead to other benefits such as high morale, organisational citizenship behaviours, high quality performance, and ability to adapt, as well as lower turnover rates and absenteeism.

Positive workplace culture ensures that employees want to turn up and do their best within their role every day, and as such, it is the core of any successful business