Why culture is vital

In Health and Safety, July 20213 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyAugust 22, 2021

The culture of an organisation determines many things. It starts, in my opinion, with how engaged the workforce is. An engaged workforce enables the enterprise to operate effectively, efficiently and happily. But what is culture?

The best and most straightforward definition of culture I’ve heard is “the way things are done when the boss is not looking”. I’m sure that we have all heard of, or worked in, organisations that run well because of the omnipresent boss. They achieve their goals, but what happens when the boss is absent? On the other hand, we have seen organisations where the boss leaves everyone to make their own decisions without adequate guidance. Neither of these allows for growth and personal satisfaction.

An organisation can grow when the boss sets out goals and plans engages with the workers and allows them to participate in the work process. As a result, workers will have a much higher job satisfaction level because they have some autonomy over their own lives.

This autonomy, combined with the knowledge they can speak out, will ensure that accidents, near misses and hazards are well-reported. Workers will report machinery faults rather than working in less-than-safe conditions. They come to the boss with solutions, not just problems. They support each other and the organisation’s work, taking responsibility for what they do and what the team does.

Culture can be hard to achieve. There have been many changes in the past year at Safewise, and we have worked hard at improving our culture. Some of the things we have done are small, such as providing food so the team can make a sandwich for lunch. Others are bigger, such as taking more time out of work for full-team meetings. We discuss what is happening in the business and ask for input from the team. Of course, the final decision is always mine; as the owner, the buck stops with me. But the team feels part of the organisation. We also celebrate each other’s lives – birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Culture can be hard to establish. It doesn’t take much work to maintain it, but like trust, it can be easily lost. However, like trust, it is worth so much.