Workplace culture: it’s a trendy topic. Almost as trendy as hot yoga and kale.

But what’s behind the growing trend? What’s behind the fancy jargon, butterflies, and sunshine?

More importantly, what happens when we, as leaders, don’t get it right?

According to TechCrunch, we just might end up like Travis Kalanick of Uber: forced to step down as CEO and utterly responsible for terrible workplace culture we created. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to make an entire organization miserable.

So just where does our responsibility lie, and how can we foster a positive workplace culture around and below us? Let’s take a quick look:

Starting from the Top:

The truth is that leaders can’t create a positive, flourishing workplace culture when their own attitudes are subpar. Too many CEOs want to conjure up happy thoughts below them while hanging onto bitterness above. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes: your boss is telling you to shut up and be happy, but he can’t seem to put a lid on his temper. How comfortable will you truly be in that workplace? Probably not so much.

Don’t Just Talk:

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A lot of CEOs like to talk about workplace culture, or even educate their employees about workplace culture, and then do nothing about it. Their workplace environment is still negative, turnover is still high, and teamwork is failing. Managers can’t seem to lead, there is no clear mission, and the workday drones on as if in slow motion. Sounds like all the workplace culture talk is really working!

Hire the Right People:

Consider your last set of interview questions. How thoroughly did you screen for cultural fit? Did you screen for the culture that you currently have or the culture that you aim to create? Did the topic come up at all? In order to support a positive workplace culture that continues to grow and thrive, CEOs and management must treat every new hire as a contributor to this environment. If your interview questions fail to account for this imperative topic at all, perhaps we have a much bigger problem.

The Wrong Perks:

While bring-your-pet-to-work day (I bring mine into the office at times!) and free food will temporarily relieve stress, they are not a permanent cultural fix. Sure, they might make your employees’ day. But when poor leadership and office tension characterize the environment, that free meal can only do so much. CEOs and management must focus on the nitty gritty: how does the workplace function? How do employees view their superiors? How can you make project implementation as seamless as possible? Or, as every leader must consider, are you the problem?

With the issue of workplace culture so utterly en vogue, it is time to start addressing these issues head-on. The “shut up and be happy” tactics need to be buried for good.

So much for butterflies and sunshine, am I right?


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