The world is still recovering from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic – the cost to human life, the impact on global supply chains, and the changes to working practices are still reverberating throughout society.
But during the upheaval, there was a definite shift towards a ‘we are all in this together’ mentality in business.
This new mindset helped to create a new culture of care – and it has been fascinating to watch the subsequent benefits for people, work, and workplaces.
According to the CBI’s Employee Wellbeing in a Changing Working World report, almost 7 in 10 business leaders have seen increased productivity as a main benefit of introducing health and well-being policies since the pandemic.
Expectations have changed
It has also become clear that employee expectations have changed. People want to see organizations maintain trust in their people and enhance a culture of care for both individual workers and the wider society.
Other stakeholders, including customers and investors, have also become more focused on the social impact of an organization.
Consumers may spurn and even campaign against organizations that ignore their sustainability and social justice commitments.
Organizational purpose, flexible working, diversity, inclusion, and workplace well-being now have the potential to be critical differentiators in the competitive talent market.
Gallup’s annual report showed that organizations that get this right and create a highly engaged workforce, have on average 21% higher profitability – a figure that investors will no doubt be paying attention to.
The power of culture diversity
The UN Global Compact Report found that 94% of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) feel the resilience of their organization is being impacted by a lack of diversity and skills for the future within their workforce.
Diversity is particularly important for innovation. Innovation requires people to experience and observe from multiple viewpoints, challenge the status quo, and allow for divergent perspectives to produce creative, imaginative, and unconventional approaches to problem-solving.
A homogeneous workforce may represent a challenge to this. As Peter Loscher, former Chair and CEO of Siemens, said: “The last thing you want as a leader is to have clones of yourself.”
Forming teams with a wide array of experiences, disciplines, competencies, perspectives, attributes, and backgrounds encourages cross-pollination that can unleash exciting new possibilities.
Maintaining a culture of trust in your organization
Cultivating a culture of care through greater trust offers the best opportunity to foster this creativity. This includes making sure that your people feeling safe to challenge certain ways of thinking or express alternative views without fear of disciplinary retribution.
Innovation also requires the acceptance of a certain level of risk and trial and error in an environment free from blame, so that employees feel supported when they try something new, even if it doesn’t work.
But how can you create greater trust by cultivating a culture of care?
Ensuring collaborative, communicative, and emotionally intelligent leadership promotes a diverse, inclusive, and ethical workplace based on respect and fairness.
Providing opportunities for lifelong learning and employability, recognising, and rewarding effort fairly, and preventing physical and mental harm in the workplace, can all also have positive impacts.
As well as increasing innovation, a culture of trust can bring a host of other benefits. Paul J. Zak, the founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, carried out research that shows the power of a workplace with trust built in.
It found that people in high-trust organizations reported:
• 74% less stress
• 106% more energy at work
• 50% higher productivity
• 13% fewer sick days
• 76% more engagement
• 29% more satisfaction with their lives
• 40% less burnout.
The consequences of broken trust
A toxic culture where colleagues do not feel trusted has the potential to severely hamper the success and growth of an organization and fundamentally undermine its strategy and resilience.
A toxic workplace runs the risk of losing its most important part – its people. The 2021 Culture Economy Report revealed that almost a third of United Kingdom (UK) employees have quit their jobs due to poor company culture, at a cost to the UK economy of around £20.2 billion per year.
And, according to the MIT SMR/Glassdoor Culture 500 in the United States, culture was found to be ten times more important to employees than compensation.
Then there are the consequences that can come with quiet quitting, sickness absence, stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, and grievance proceedings.
Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that mental ill-health costs the global workforce an estimated $1 trillion in lost productivity each year, which is why more than 50% of United Nations (UN) Global Compact CEOs interviewed are offering physical and mental health resources to their workforce, with this number increasing to 71% of CEOs in large organizations.