Work Culture

Published on: Apr 8, 2019

Work culture – the magical words that you keep on hearing over and over again. But then what exactly is work culture? Is it how the employees socialise with each other? Is it how the employees are treated? Is it how open and transparent the company is? Or is it how the employees are rewarded? Or yet, is it the various benefits given to the employees by the company? In my opinion work culture is the sum of all this, and much more.

I do not have experience working elsewhere, so one might think I am not the right person to comment on this topic. And one might be correct! The work culture that I’m most familiar with (and maybe only) is that of Techversant’s. I’ve been working here for nearly five years, and I think the management has done an excellent job in maintaining a good work culture in the company, despite various hiccups (I’m not going into that!).

How important is work culture? Work culture, though it doesn’t get the importance it deserves play a vital role in attracting and binding talent onto the company. The success of any company is its workforce, who put in their all to grow together as one. One defining factor for an employee to stick on with a company other than the salary he/she draws is its work atmosphere. Work-life balance, the defining criteria for most of the employees, depends mainly on the benefits which are enjoyed by the employee – which includes, but not limited to, the number of leaves, the workload vs pay, option to work-from-home, and such. If a company doesn’t allow its employees to take leave, and if the workload on them is tremendous compared to what they are being paid, then any sane employee would jump ships at the next chance they get!

Another defining factor is the physical environment or the design of the workplace. Some companies try to utilise maximum efficiency by packing the office employees similar to how fruits and vegetables are placed in grocery stores. While this might save space for the employer, the employee would constantly feel congested at the work place, and would feel like walking out for fresh air more often. This eventually leads to a reduce in effective productivity, which most employers tend to ignore. But hey, they did save on some floor space! How employees interact with each other is another big factor. When a new employee has joined the company and if the existing employees are cold towards him/her, then the employee will feel alienated at all times. Management needs to ensure that the new hires are welcomed in the office, and that they are not left out in any company events.

Companies usually try to bring employees together by arranging outings, trips and organising events for the employees. These go a long way, as the employees get to lighten up and have a stress-free day without having to worry about the next deadline. Such activities also help employees socialise with each other. Companies which tend to organise such activities frequently do tend to have a high employee retention rate, and in a way, they tend to help improve the company’s brand image among people outside the company as well. When you’re looking up a company to switch to, you’d be more inclined to the company’s social media pages and website full of memories from such activities.

Performance evaluation – my favourite, and the company’s too. We can all agree that in the end, one the most important criteria for any employee is how much money they make. And performance evaluation is something that many companies use to decide on whether an employee’s salary needs to be increased, and if yes, by how much. Now this is a tricky thing to do, and the company have to be careful about a lot of things. If you give too little, employees might leave. If you give too much, company will lose money. If everyone’s paid equally, the harder working employees will feel under-appreciated. But even with all this, many companies tend to underpay the employees (I wonder how that happen). Money is also a great motivator. If employees know that hard work will be rewarded, they tend to be more dedicated so as to achieve that higher pay. Companies at the successful end of the spectrum tends to use this knowledge to improve productivity and bring about a healthy competition among employees.

A good example of work culture affecting the company can be obtained from Microsoft. During the end of Bill Gates period as the company’s head, and during Steve Ballmer’s tenure, the company’s work culture was affected by bureaucracy, micromanagement, lack of motivation for the employees and stringent performance evaluation methods which often resulted in employees sabotaging each other’s work. In the end, the company lost market dominance, and missed out on many technology trends, which could have changed the company’s future all together. As a result, the company stocks fell. And all this changed with the entry of Satya Nadella, who changed the company for better.

Everything I said above are mainly policies which are followed by the company’s management. Work culture is much more than this. Don’t get me wrong, company policies are the foundation for the work culture. But the unwritten rules, rites and rituals followed by the employees are what makes for a good culture. Rituals can be on team or department level, and rites or ceremonies usually happen on an organisational level. These could go from celebrating each person’s birthday, treating coworkers for every silly reason, going out every Friday to pubs (good luck finding one in Trivandrum), and so on.

When you’re switching to another company, these are some of the several things that you could look out for, which would help you decide whether the company is suitable for you. Money might be an important factor, but if you’re planning to spend eight plus hours per day in an office cubicle, you will soon realise (if not already) that the work culture of the company would be a defining factor as well.