Healthy culture, healthy company...
Lisa Seagroatt, guest blogger and Managing Director of HR Fit for Purpose returns with more great advice about creating healthy workplaces.
November 2019 has been the most incredible work month for me! I am still looking back thinking ‘really, is that what I’ve been doing’. This journey as a female business founder really never fails to continue to amaze me.
I had the absolute pleasure recently of attending the Graduation Ceremony of my Level 5 students who were receiving their Diploma in Intermediate HR Management. I’ve been lecturing at Westminster Kingsway College as part of the Contigo Associates team of tutors for two years and how have two classes spread across the Capital City College Group. In total I am teaching 26 students in the art of good ethics and HR practice and we have many conversations about bullying and poor culture and how toxic and destructive this can be for everyone involved.
It’s such a pleasure working with clients and teaching students who genuinely understand the importance of healthy workplace culture and why it’s so important for any business to achieve. We have many discussions in class where examples are shared around bad behaviours in the workplace such as bullying and harassment. Despite HR being ‘professionalised’ during the past 25 years, moving away from the ‘welfare model’ to one of ‘Human Resources’ with clear policies and procedures around bullying (and all things relevant to people), this behaviour is still ‘alive and well’ in the workplace and causing our HR Practitioners of today just as many headaches as it was 25 years ago.
One area where it’s clear that policy and people management training are needed is at senior management and Board level – based on my own experience and that of my students and clients. Organisations often grow organically and before you know it, you’ve a whole team of people to manage and supervise. People often set up in business because they have a specific skill or knowledge to offer their customers then 10 years down the line, your business has grown and you have 45 staff to manage – the owner or founder of the business then often realises that HR policy and people management simply isn’t their skill set!
Board members, irrespective of the sector they are working within, are often recruited on their expertise in a particular area of industry or sector and not necessarily on their people management skills. Some will also be family members, and this can create its own explosive dynamic if not managed properly. Others operating at Board level might also be volunteers and some will be shareholders. Either way they are all stakeholders in the business within which they are operating.
Being able to recognise a toxic (or potentially toxic) workplace environment isn’t really that difficult. There are two clues that will help any Board or senior management team realise that something might be wrong:
· High sickness absence
· High turnover of staff
Now, in some industries (e.g., the Care Sector), turnover has always been traditionally high, but I would challenge any company operating in the sector to think twice about accepting this as ‘the norm’. I’d also challenge their senior management team and Board members to give a bit more thought to ‘why’ their turnover might be so high. Or why they might be using a lot of agency staff to cover sickness absence.
Treating people as you might like to be treated yourself – no matter where they ‘sit’ in your organisational structure, will reap rewards far beyond that of any pay increase. My dad, a great advocate for the ‘working man’ always used to say ‘be careful who you tread on whilst on your way up as you might meet them on your way back down’………
Creating a culture of high performance working and engagement within your workforce does not have to cost huge amounts of money but with a little investment, it will pay dividends in the long run by driving up productivity and profit.
Creating an environment where people want to come to work will make a massive difference to staff retention. Creating a workplace where people feel valued will mean that you’ll achieve what’s known as a psychological contract with your staff. Once in please, this means they will actually want to come and work for you because they feel part of something important and recognise the value of what your business is trying to achieve – they will want to be a part of that. And they will tell everyone what a great employer you are.
Creating a culture of fear and bullying will achieve nothing at all for business other than the perennial problems of high absence and turnover.
No business can sustain that kind of culture long term – absence and turnover leads to loss of productivity and profit …. and we all know where that’s going to leave any business!
Lisa Seagroatt is the Managing Director of HR Fit for Purpose. They help their clients to focus on improving workplace practices around positive people management, helping them to develop their line managers and grow a healthy workplace culture. The aim of a healthy workplace culture is to enable businesses to thrive and grow - good employee engagement leads to low sickness absence, low turnover and high productivity in the workplace.
This is one of a series of articles about the impact of bullying and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. Nicki Eyre is a Transformational Coach based in Harrogate offering training and coaching support programmes for businesses and individuals. She and her team support businesses to prevent bullying, as well as individuals struggling to cope with bullying, during and after the experience. Nicki is also a speaker on the topic of workplace bullying.
Contact Nicki for a confidential discussion about your experience:
t 07921 264920