How Workplace Culture Can Drive Your Bottom Line

Greg Scott

Do you face challenges in finding, keeping and securing customers? Most businesses do. How do you address that challenge? Certainly systems, procedures, products and services must all be up to scratch. You can invest in new machinery, design new products and introduce new systems in your search for a competitive edge. But what about workplace culture? All too many businesses overlook its impact on the bottom line.

Right at this very moment, your potential customer may be researching a buying decision. A poor workplace culture will reveal itself in seconds, without you ever knowing – either on customer Google reviews, word of mouth or social media. In a flash, she’s decided you’re not a good match. And there’s no right of appeal.

Is it worth it?
When there’s so much to do, and the day never seems to have enough hours, do you really need to address something so vague and intangible as ‘culture’? Absolutely you do. Here’s why. See if this rings any bells…

I recently worked with an organisation struggling under the weight of truly challenging culture and practices. The business owners were extraordinarily entrepreneurial, but the company had no written procedures; directions were issued and staff berated by email; meetings dragged on for hours and yet no decisions were made, or if they were, they were not followed through; there were no safety procedures; staff were driving old unsafe cars and equipment; and, in a shock to precisely no-one, staff felt massively undervalued. Most were turning up and doing the bare minimum. Staff turnover was a major issue.

Over seven months, we worked to fundamentally change the business. Here’s just some of what we achieved:

  1. We leased new vehicles for field staff;
  2. We bought new tools and equipment to improve safety;
  3. We introduced toolbox talks to assist with two-way communication;
  4. We wrote and distributed training procedures;
  5. We held workshops and meetings with staff to acknowledge the challenges and share with them our plan for change;
  6. We elicited feedback from staff to gauge change effectiveness;
  7. We consulted staff on improvement initiatives;
  8. We introduced BBQs to encourage informal interactions;
  9. We went out with field workers, to ascertain and understand the challenges they faced; and,
  10. We introduced new improved systems to reduce rework and inefficiencies.

And the improvement in culture didn’t just result in warm and fuzzy feelings of being a better workplace. During this hectic seven month campaign, installation completions more than doubled from 45% to 95%. That resulted in happier customers (and staff!), with Google reviews more than doubling from a shocking two stars to more than four out of five. Best of all – and this is why it’s really worth all the heartburn and effort – company revenue and profitability shot up. In fact, profits increased by 400% in this period alone!

Your business may not be in such a state of disrepair as this. But unless you’re really paying close attention to your company’s culture, it’s likely that there are gains to be had, which could very well fall through to the bottom line.

What is affecting your workplace culture?
If your organisation is experiencing a challenging workplace culture, you can benefit from clarifying where the problems are by asking yourself a few hard questions, such as:

  1. Do our people truly feel valued… or are they dismissed except when they’re singing our company song?
  2. Are their ideas for improvements encouraged… or ignored, or even laughed at?
  3. Are people from a diverse background employed… or considered but then, for whatever reason, more often than not found unsuitable?
  4. Do we walk the talk? For example, we may say that “we value safety.” Does the reality live up to that value? It’s been said that a principle is only a principle when it costs you something. If you’re not prepared to invest in safety, you’re not valuing it
  5. Are our inductions for new workers performed professionally… or unorganised, with minimal information provided?
  6. Are important matters such as bullying, harassment and discrimination awareness discussed… or ignored?
  7. Are regular performance appraisals conducted, with training gaps arranged and followed up… or do we just do it as a routine tick-the-boxes exercise?
  8. Are our company strategies shared? Is there a company-wide understanding of what the company is striving for or what it stands for? Or do we treat them like mushrooms, leaving them in the dark and feeding them BS?
  9. Do company processes make an employee’s job easier… or frustrate them?
  10. Are procedures and processes clearly documented – and accessible… or were they a project you did years ago, and now they’re locked away in a cabinet somewhere in the storeroom, gathering dust and turning yellow? If that’s the case, then the truth is you may as well not have them. In fact, it’s worse to have them in this condition than not have them at all, because it means we’re kidding ourselves
  11. Are goals and performance measures based on what people get done (achieved)… or do they just measure activity, regardless?
  12. Are conflicts managed professionally… or poorly… or even not at all?
  13. Is training provided… or do people have to learn by trial and error?

If you can be honest about where your business is really at, then you’ve taken the first step. The next step, of course, is to start implementing a program to change it. Here’s one way to go about it.

Of course, managing change is a discipline in itself. But you know that, and you’ve made many changes in your business over time. So you know that any change – whether it be to systems, processes or culture – needs to be planned before you start and implemented well once you do. The last thing you want to do is to make things worse.

As you start to improve your workplace culture, here are eight key steps for you to take:

  1. PERFORM A REVIEW to gauge the existing culture of the workplace (I have tools to help you with this);
  2. DECIDE WHAT YOUR CULTURE SHOULD BE by engaging employees to participate in a shared vision;
  3. DOCUMENT A PLAN with initiatives to improve the culture;
  4. EMPOWER YOUR STAFF to be champions of change and drive agreed behaviour;
  5. ENGAGE YOUR SENIOR MANAGEMENT to buy in and drive and encourage change;
  6. MEASURE AND COMMUNICATE great examples of workplace improvements;
  7. ACKNOWLEDGE your failures (and there will be those!) as well as celebrating the wins (and there will be those, too!);
  8. ENJOY THE JOURNEY… because workplace cultural change does not happen overnight.

When workplace culture is healthy and strong, you can all get on with reaching for big ambitious goals, and more often than not hitting them. When it isn’t, everything feels like a mighty effort. It’s like driving with the brakes on. Meanwhile, without you even knowing it, your next potential customer is making her decision… and another one… and another one…

Greg Scott is a member of The Network of Consulting Professionals and an expert in guiding businesses through change. You can reach him on 0407 338116 or at

Photo by Natasha Hall on Unsplash

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