Organizational Cutlure
ATD Blog

How Organizational Culture Can Help Bring Out the Best in Employees

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It’s easy to look at a company’s balance sheet and attempt to gauge its success based on the numbers, but dollar amounts can’t tell the whole truth about the actual state of an organization. The true “health” of a company lies with the health and well-being of its employees.

This doesn’t mean that every employee needs to smile all the time. But everyone should feel satisfied with their work and believe they can speak up without recourse when they aren’t. Employees expect a positive and productive work experience, and CEOs recognize that this isn’t all just fluff.

If you want employees to bring their best to work, you need to create a culture that makes them want to do that. So how is that done? 

Engage Employees by Giving Them Purpose 

Employee engagement is a challenge for employers across the globe. Disengaged employees have more days away from work or days when health limits their activity than their engaged counterparts. In fact, Gallup research found that on a monthly basis, actively disengaged employees have 2.17 unhealthy days compared with 1.25 days for engaged employees.

While unhealthy days don’t always mean logging a sick day on the books, would you notice any trends if you started monitoring absentee rates? Does one area or department have higher absentee rates? If so, it’s worth investigating. Is there an issue between co-workers? Is the team overworked? Is there an issue outside work that is affecting someone?

Engage employees by giving purpose to their work; you should be transparent on how their role fits within the overall organizational objectives. When PwC surveyed 275 CEOs, they found that having a clearly stated and defined purpose helps to not only shape strategies and culture, but also engage and inspire employees.  

Be Aware of Overall Sentiment 


Everyone is just an email, IM, Facebook post, or Tweet away from sharing their frustrations and successes about the company; what they say matters. Creating a culture that empowers and engages employees is one of the most important issues companies around the world face. In fact, 87 percent cite culture as their top challenge, according to Deloitte. Sentiment and engagement are also closely linked.

If you want a true gauge of how your employees feel about their work, the organization, and their personal lives, sentiment analysis is an area worth checking out. It’s up to leaders to create a culture that makes employees feel comfortable sharing their feelings—good and bad—in a productive way.  

Overall Health (Not Just Physical) Matters 

Walking clubs, Fitbit challenges, discounts to gyms, and hosting on-site yoga sessions are simple ways to show employees that their health matters. Mental health initiatives in the workplace are just as important.

Awareness is the first step toward ensuring people maintain overall good health and well-being. There are many great initiatives to help end the stigma around mental health and the workplace is an important place where these activities can really make an impact.


To truly support overall health and well-being, organizations need to lead the charge and help employees feel comfortable sharing personal experiences. One-on-one meetings offer a great opportunity for employees to check in with one another. It’s about understanding the context of what might be affecting someone’s ability to be present or in the moment. Try asking questions such as “How are you feeling?” or “Is anything on your mind that you’re focused on?” This ensures people are aware of what might be going on with the person. The goal should then be to set appropriate expectations and manage what’s on someone’s plate so it doesn’t add any unnecessary stress.

It can take time and requires a lot of trust. But, when people are properly equipped to manage and get a handle on sensitive issues related to their health and well-being, the more they will be able to support one another.  

Mean It When You Say “People Matter Most” 

When employees are absent from their jobs (either physically or emotionally) productivity is affected, and if underlying issues are left to fester, companies could see higher turnover rates or increased benefit plan costs.

The PwC survey makes the point clear that the success of a business only goes as far as the people willing to carry it. After all, if the lines continue to blur between work and personal life, then it’s up to organizations to do more for their people. Because greatness, in life and work, starts with bringing out the best in everyone.

About the Author

Joanne Wells is manager of the Learning Centre of Excellence at Halogen Software. She has more than 20 years of experience in managing, coaching, and mentoring skilled professionals. In her current role, she is responsible for employee skills development and career progression.

1 Comment
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This is an excellent article with very insightful information! It is true that people really do matter because they form the framework of organizational culture. So, indeed, leaders must mean it when they say people matter.
They should apply principles of the organization's core values to practice daily to ensure substantive progress in forming and continuously molding organizational culture to achieve its near-term and long-term goals and objectives.
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