Work Culture

By ACS Distance Education on November 16, 2023 in Careers & Jobs Success | comments

There are many benefits to be had from better understanding and managing cultural attitudes within any workplace.

Workplace culture refers to the attitudes that prevail in a business. It refers to how management thinks and acts toward employees, and the attitudes and actions that workers exhibit toward others in the workplace – bot fellow workers, management and toward customers.

A positive workplace culture prioritises the wellbeing of others, showing empathy in both policies and actions. It always shows respect, trust and support. 

Negative workplace cultures are the opposite of all these things and can become toxic if they persist; increasing both psychological and physical risks to anyone who works in or visits that workplace.

There are different types of workplace cultures, for instance: hierarchical culture, adhocracy culture, market culture and clan culture.

Hierarchical culture

This is when decisions are made from the top down, which usually means that the structure of the organisation is fairly strict and rigid. When this approach is adopted, there are clear lines of authority, communication, and accountability. 
For some workers this is a positive approach to culture, with there being a very clear approach to what is done, and by whom. It is clear who is responsible for what, and who reports into who. There is also a level of control from the higher levels of the organisation which keeps the business running efficiently. Many people will like the fact that there are clear guidelines and protocols, and that the responsibilities of individuals are clearly outlined. 

On the other hand, this can also mean that those at the bottom of the hierarchal ladder feel powerless as all decisions are taken higher up the business. This can be frustrating, as decisions cannot always be made quickly, and they have less opportunities to provide their own ideas.

Clan culture

This approach to culture is much more collaborative, it looks to develop a more family like environment by ensuring that the employees value commitment and participation. There is a strong link to the overall mission of the business with the emphasis on sharing a common vision.

There are rules within the business but they are not necessarily followed rigidly, with the employees expected to act with some autonomy. 

Adhocracy culture

When decision making is distributed throughout an organisation, rather than being taken at the top of the hierarchy (or in one central part of the business) the business is referred to as having an adhocracy culture. This often occurs when the hierarchal structure is relatively flat. 

This allows for more flexibility within an organisation, and is often associated with businesses which are focused on innovation and creation. There is an emphasis on employees being proactive, which is often linked to frequent change within the business which requires this ad hoc approach. 

There is a focus within this type of organisation on the results that are achieved by employees rather than the procedures by which they achieve them. This allows flexibility for workers to make decisions on how best to achieve an outcome. 

Market culture

The most competitive of the four corporate culture models, this emphasises competitiveness not just between the company and their direct competitors, but also between employees. Getting it right as part of the strategic planning can give great rewards, but getting it wrong can have big consequences. 

What Can Happen when Workplace Culture is Bad?

When culture is not important to an organisation, or it fails to establish a positive culture, there can be significant consequences both to the business and individuals it employs. These in turn, can have impacts on the health and safety of employees such as:
Wellbeing and health costs increase – the health of employees will be one of the key aspects that will be affected with a poor or negative culture in place. Negativity in the workplace can have significant impacts on the mental health of workers which will have an affect on the dynamics of the business as well as the productivity. Time off due to stress and depression has huge financial implications, but it will also have an impact on engagement of others. 

  • Safety procedures get ignored, even if they are established
  • First aid supplies are not replaced when they get used
  • Employees do not notice the psychological or physical needs of each other
  • Frequency of accidents increases

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