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Workplace Culture

Two workers bumping elbows instead of high-fiving, both with masks on.

Workplace culture is dynamic; it can change over time and has the ability to surround and connect those who participate in it.

An article published by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), The COVID-19 Crucible, notes only about ten percent of companies have opted for an intentional approach, recognizing themselves as not only participants in the company culture, but creators as well. Some companies are using the pandemic as an opportunity to experiment and make changes where needed to improve workplace culture.

The Importance of Good Culture in Schools

The culture of a school can be seen in its connections. In the Harvard Graduate School of Education article, What Makes a Good School Culture?, author Leah Shafer emphasizes the importance of workplace communication, noting that in a strong culture there are many, overlapping, and cohesive interactions among all members of the organization. This allows beliefs, values, and actions to spread and be reinforced.

Culture is reflected in a school’s core beliefs and behaviors. A good culture promotes traits like collaboration, honesty, and hard work. A weak culture can negatively affect an organization’s performance, employee morale and retention, and an organization’s reputation.

As a job applicant searches through various job postings and company websites, the information may seem repetitive. According to Melanie Booher, culture coach and founder of MB Consulting Solutions, the deciding factor is often culture. A healthy culture has been shown to attract potential employees as well as boost morale of current employees.

Conversely, weak culture can be detrimental. The SHRM article, All Employees Play a Role in Creating a Respectful Culture, estimates 75 percent of work-related harassment cases go unreported out of fear of retaliation and a belief that the company does not care. Lack of action leads to resentment and turnover.

Building Culture

Although recognizing the importance of workplace or company culture is a great start, it means little without action. There are several ways to engage employees and create a culture of respect and continued connection.

  • Provide opportunities for professional development (workshops and virtual training).
  • Have regular team check-ins.
  • Offer a flexible work schedule when possible.
  • Communicate often and consider the most appropriate method for the message and audience.
  • Lead transparently; it’s okay to be vulnerable at times.

Participants in a school’s culture are not limited to teachers and faculty but include parents and students, as well. It is important that leaders help everyone realize their impact and move forward together.

Looking Forward

Employees are more than their output, and so, it is important to acknowledge their needs beyond work. A sense of belonging and acceptance can relieve work-related anxiety and boost morale. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to do things differently, opening up the opportunity to make intentional changes and experiment with processes to keep the workforce connected. At the end of the day, culture is created for a community—it is a bond. In understanding that, employers and employees can work together to build a climate of empathy, generosity, and trust.

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