The reasons why Google has for seven years occupied the number one spot in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list (2017) epitomize what constitutes a supportive work environment that fosters trust and employee satisfaction. Whereas adequate remuneration and a retirement fund used to be considered the benchmarks for motivating employees, research has consistently shown that workplace culture plays a deciding role in retaining and binding people to an organization, (Why it’s Important to Build a Good Work Culture, n.d.). Workplace culture is the ecosystem of the workplace, the contextual and environmental factors that go far beyond just the tasks at hand, (Why it’s Important to Build a Good Work Culture, n.d.). Sometimes, workplace culture elements are difficult to define; it comes down to a normative environment. For instance, it is difficult to pinpoint why some workplaces generate a fun environment, but many do, especially companies like Google. A deeper examination of workplace culture elements from the most successful companies in my field (marketing) show that it is indeed possible to quantify and explain these tangible elements of workplace culture. Those elements include supportiveness, work/life balance issues, and empowerment.
Support refers to the creation of a normative workplace culture in which each member views teammates as allies, no matter what. We do not necessarily need to like each person on a personal level, or socialize with people outside of work, but while at work, we collaborate on projects. Even people like me who prefer working independently recognize the need for support as key to a good workplace environment. Support means that my colleagues watch each others back, (Workplace Culture Is Key to Employee Satisfaction, 2015, p. 1). For example, Baird, one of the Fortune 500 top five places to work, happens to be an investment firm that eschews the aggressively competitive nature of the investment banking sector. Instead, Baird creates a company culture that values integrity and teamwork, (The 100 Best Companies to Work For, 2017). A supportive work environment is competitive in a fun way, like playing sports with friends.
Another crucial aspect of workplace culture that I intend to find in my own field is the work/life balance. Also framed sometimes as self-care, the work/life balance is created in several ways, depending on the organization (The 100 Best Companies to Work For, 2017). For example, some companies have flexible scheduling options for people with families, offering new parents long maternity and paternity leaves with telecommuting options available. Other companies have on-site gyms or provide employees with local gym memberships. Some have yoga and meditation rooms on site. An organizations commitments to work-life quality are what set it apart as having a good workplace culture (Workplace Culture Is Key to Employee Satisfaction, 2015, p. 1). Whatever the specific elements of maintaining work/life balance, this element is important for improving productivity in the long run and reducing stress and burnoutkeys to success.
Finally, empowerment is a factor of workplace culture that I find and which is realistic in my field. Empowerment refers to a variety of factors that promote responsibility and professional advancement. According to one study, being empowered through opportunities for advancement in addition to the base rate of pay is important for retention and overall worker satisfaction (Workplace Culture Is Key to Employee Satisfaction, 2015). All the companies that made the top of the list in the Fortune magazine list of best companies to work for offer some kind of profit-sharing model. Empowerment refers to the ways supervisors and senior managers actively encourage subordinates to perform to the best of their ability and move beyond their comfort zones to achieve what they never before dreamed possible. An empowering workplace culture is one that enables me to map my ideal career plan and take specific steps towards reaching my goals.
The 100 Best Companies to Work For, (2017). Fortune. Retrieved online: http://fortune.com/best-companies/
Why it’s Important to Build a Good Work Culture, (n.d.). Retrieved online: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270338
Workplace Culture Is Key to Employee Satisfaction, (2015). Catalyst. Retrieved online: http://www.catalyst.org/media/workplace-culture-key-employee-satisfaction
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