No organisation is exempt from people management problems, especially if the culture is poor or has been neglected.
There are numerous cases across Australia where this has been the case and often only gets noticed once the issue is too large.
No leader wants to have to deal with the fallout from internal issues or bad behaviour, but the risk remains for all employers who don’t make company culture a priority.
What is company culture?
Company culture is the very essence of a business. Whilst it varies from one organisation to the next, it essentially brings company values to life, influences working atmosphere and provides a foundation upon which work and working relationships are built.
Toxic company culture can lead to reoccurring people problems: from bad behaviour, whether it’s bullying brushed off as banter, to rule breaking, or poor working habits like presenteeism.
Good company culture does the opposite. It encourages collaboration, uniqueness, and structure for starters.
Making time for company culture
For a busy organisation, company culture maintenance can sometimes fall behind. In particular, fast-growing businesses can struggle if more people are brought onboard but not shown the ropes. That is, being introduced to the way things are done and why.
Meanwhile, some start-ups may not have established a company culture, or understand the risks of leaving this up to employees.
They do however have an advantage, along with other SMEs, in that they can adapt quicker than larger businesses with often more open communication between company owners and employees.
Making time to define and develop a positive company culture is critical for success. When linked with people strategy, it can reduce time spent dealing with reoccurring HR issues, improve workplace well-being and increase productivity.
The risks of neglecting company culture
We have seen already how reputation can be damaged through bad company culture, but there are legal and financial risks too.
One recent fair work claim involved a Finance and Insurance Consultant who had been summarily dismissed after posting offensive memes on his personal Facebook account. Although the decision appears, at first instance, to relate to a straightforward application for unfair dismissal the case and findings highlights the importance of taking proactive steps to implement a positive and safe workplace culture – even in industries which are considered to have more ‘robust’ workplace cultures.
More and more, banter is the downfall of an employer’s defence at fair work. To avoid these sorts of problems, a culture of respect is essential from the start.
Developing a good company culture
Professional HR advice is often sought as a reactive solution to a people problem. However effective HR can also be proactive in strategising a culture reset.
Leadership has a key role to play here. From demonstrating and protecting a positive culture to setting the right example for employees to do the same.
Additionally, policies and training can help to maintain that positive culture and provide guidance on what to do if things veer off track.
If you’d like to know more about how to develop a good culture for your business, don’t forget that the HR Dept is here to help.