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Healthy working culture: what are the major characteristics?


August 17, 2023


December 28, 2023

A thriving and healthy working culture is the bedrock of a successful and productive organization. Creating a healthy workplace culture goes beyond tasks and financial compensation, encompassing other characteristics that foster employee well-being, growth, and fulfillment. We live at a time when dynamic shifts in work paradigms are taking place, and workers’ expectations are evolving. Therefore, maintaining a work culture when hybrid and remote models are prominent poses an additional challenge

This article delves into the major features that define a healthy working culture, highlighting how they help create a motivated and engaged workforce. By understanding and implementing these essential traits, organizations can create an environment that not only drives business success but also enhances the lives of their staff. From flexibility and autonomy to transparent communication and recognition, each element plays a crucial role in shaping a workplace where individuals flourish and contribute meaningfully. As workplaces continue to evolve, prioritizing a positive atmosphere at work is not just a strategic goal. It is also a commitment to creating a space where employees can feel valued, empowered, and connected to others.

1. Flexibility & versatility

One of the key characteristics of a healthy working culture is flexibility, which can take on a number of different forms. This can mean managers are adaptable when an employee has certain needs. While not possible at all companies, a great example of this is shift swapping. When someone has to take care of a personal matter, a teammate can take their place for that shift, for example. 

An organization that is flexible can also use different types of scheduling, such as flexitime. This refers to the idea that people can choose when they start and finish work as long as they complete a set number of hours per day or week. There are also compressed hours which condenses the work week, meaning employees work the same number of hours in fewer days than usual. 

Or, to provide even greater autonomy, flexibility can be implemented in regard to location. Hybrid and remote work fall into this category. Some hybrid models only require team members to be in the office on certain days, and others allow them to pick which days they want to come in.

2. Autonomy & empowerment

As mentioned above, autonomy and empowerment are crucial aspects in building an engaged workforce. Providing more independence has a number of benefits, such as more creativity, greater employee satisfaction, and lower turnover. When they feel like they have the freedom to decide on something as simple as which days they prefer to be in the office, they feel trusted and in turn empowered to work harder. 

Employee empowerment begins with involving them in decision-making. While this cannot be done for every important choice being made, getting staff feedback about a new system or work model you are thinking of implementing gives them a sense of empowerment. Additionally, encourage work-life balance by allowing time for exercise, well-being, and relationship building. This makes employees feel valued as humans, not just as workers.

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Happy employees working together

3. Transparent communication & respect

A positive corporate culture is built on communication and respect. First and foremost, leaders need to communicate their expectations clearly. What goals do they wish the team to achieve? How many days should they be working in the office? When does the team need to push through challenges? Providing answers to these questions ensures all coworkers are on the same page and understand everything from key measures of success to day-to-day expectations. 

Similarly, the organization at large must communicate its core values. This helps leadership to create alignment with employees and build a culture centered around these essential ideas. 

Finally, there needs to be a culture of open communication and respect in general. Everyone should feel comfortable speaking their minds. Feedback, coming from both leaders and workers, should be commonplace. This is what drives true growth as areas with room for improvement can then be noted, and active changes be made.

4. Trust & safety

Building trust within the team as well as between leaders and team members creates a healthy workplace culture. Especially in hybrid and remote models, there is a tendency towards micromanagement. This is because some supervisors struggle to trust their colleagues when they cannot physically see them doing the work. However, being overbearing can negatively impact both the employee’s happiness at work and their productivity. Essentially, it can have the opposite effect. 

Therefore, develop an environment based on trust that tracks progress because this is obviously still necessary. But does so by measuring end results rather than time spent doing a task. Using output to evaluate your team is the best way to show them you believe in them and the work they are doing. Trust, in turn, leads to feelings of psychological safety.

5. DEI & sustainability

DEI and sustainability in the office are two key elements that are fundamental to today’s workforce. Many people do not want to work at organizations without these measures in place. Diversity, equity, and inclusion means having a culture that is welcoming of everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and any other aspects. Some ways to make a more inclusive workplace are: 

  • giving a voice to everyone;
  • requiring the use of inclusive language in the work environment;
  • including holidays from all religions in your corporate calendar
  • etc. 

Additionally, being that sustainability is a key concern for many of us at the moment, implementing sustainable practices helps employees align their values with the organization at large. This can be as simple as becoming a paperless office or as grand as downsizing your office by half its size.

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Teammates celebrating an accomplishment

6. Recognition & appreciation

Your team needs to feel that their work is valued. Not only does this make them feel happy and accomplished, but it also encourages them to continue working hard. Let them know they are doing a good job and reward them for accomplishing important milestones. This is even more effective when done on a one-on-one basis. Each individual person contributes in their own way, so it is crucial to appreciate them as such. 

This also helps promote a culture of feedback where opinions are shared, especially when they are positive. We often get caught up in giving negative feedback to fix problems and forget to acknowledge what is working.

7. Workplace connection & sense of belonging

Studies have shown that those who have more friends at work are happier and are more likely to remain in the position. As humans, we need this connection, as feelings of isolation harm mental health. Encouraging connection is even more significant in hybrid and remote settings, as those working from home can sometimes miss out on such opportunities. Leaders who want to create a healthy working culture need to facilitate certain activities that bring employees together. This can be monthly meet ups with a fun online team bonding games or activities that can be run over Zoom. 

Creating a sense of belonging is fundamental as many of us have missed meeting new people and connecting with colleagues in person since much of our work has been put online.

8. Professional & personal growth

Encouraging professional and personal growth is an important aspect of making your employees feel valued. For the younger workforce like Gen Z, having learning opportunities is necessary to stay at a job. Without room for growth, your company’s talent retention could suffer. 

Offering classes or providing a learning budget are some ways to encourage growth. Additionally, your staff needs to see that there is room for them to be promoted. While promotion cycles differ greatly from one company to another, make sure you are communicating a clear trajectory to encourage remaining loyal to the team.

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Young employee taking learning opportunities

9. Purpose & conviction

While this concept is less concrete than the others, people like to feel that they have a sense of purpose when they come to work. They want their job to mean something, whether this is feeling accomplished or contributing to the company at large. 

Developing meaningfulness can come from implementing some of the advice mentioned above. For example, show recognition for individuals who have achieved certain goals. Or give them increased autonomy over their role to empower them. In many ways, purpose comes from feeling aligned with personal values. So, make this a priority for leaders. 

In the modern world of work, a healthy working culture extends beyond productivity and efficiency. It includes a mix of flexibility, autonomy, transparency, trust, diversity, recognition, and growth. As organizations navigate the evolving work landscape, these key characteristics are a great place to start for making impactful change. They foster a positive environment in which the workforce is engaged, has a sense of purpose, and feels truly valued. By weaving these traits into their operations, leaders can build an atmosphere where individuals are not just workers but valued contributors that are given opportunities for growth and learning. Ultimately, creating a healthy workplace culture is not just a strategic choice; it is a commitment to the holistic well-being of employees and the enduring success of the organization.

Mentioning flexibility and versatility first in this article wasn’t random. They play a key role in enhancing well-being and satisfaction, contributing to the creation of employee-centric work environment. So start a free trial of the deskbird app to give your team members more flexibility with workspace booking and week planning while saving costs!

Healthy working culture: what are the major characteristics?

Annabel Benjamin

Annabel is a hybrid work expert who combines insightful strategies with practical applications to help navigate the changing landscape of modern employment. Her writings provide a wealth of tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to boost productivity, foster team cohesion, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in hybrid settings. 

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