“It’s difficult for organizations to implement change if they don’t promote a collaborative culture,” said Charles Ashworth, vice president of employee success at FinancialForce.com. “Working within a collaborative environment aids in removing barriers or walls within the workplace.”
So, what do you need to address to uphold a healthy company culture?
There is often a lack of visibility across teams, and this is a hindrance to internal communication and collaboration.
Ashworth advised employers who are struggling to establish a collaborative culture and consider ways in which various levels of employees can come together working toward common goals, and in a communal way, such as pop-up events and spontaneous activities.
“It is important for leaders to encourage collaboration across different business departments,” Ashworth said.
“But this must be done under the right conditions – virtual collaboration can become an obstacle if the company culture doesn’t promote collaboration.
Transparency and collaboration starts at executive level. The culture in the company should reflect the values and ambitions of the leadership team as well as the company.”
He added that it is important to invest in and support employee relationships, as well as encourage consistent interactions between leaders and colleagues. “Leaders need to work together across their own departments – a collaborative nature trickles down through the company. It also helps to support informal communications and purposeful conversations throughout the organization.”
The generation gap
Many employers have noticed the adverse effects that having a multi-generational workplace can cause.
“Bridging the generational gap is a big challenge for a lot of companies today,” said Ashworth. “As many workforces hire increasing numbers of millennials, this is leading to a much more digitally diverse demographic.
It’s up to leaders in the company to embrace this changing environment by promoting digital learning and communication – the workforce needs to stay connected in order to bridge any gaps. [Employers] must find a way to relate to the new generation and encourage the establishment of an environment that they can relate to.”
He added that a problem in many workplaces is an intergenerational, unspoken sense of “us versus them”.
“Balancing current multi-generations is different – companies should be celebrating this difference. Leverage all generations as mentors: younger workers can educate older workers in new technologies, while veteran workers can teach millennials about traditional business models. Every worker brings value to the company, and there seems to be a common ground amongst all generations of a desire to work in a collaborative environment.”
Ashworth said one issue employers need to be wary of is the difference in how generations deal with problems. “With older generations, issues have traditionally been resolved face to face or by telephone,” he said, “whereas younger employees can sometimes struggle with face to face conflicts being so digitally connected.”
He added that it is important that millennial workers are taught to deal with face to face communication in order to bridge the gap.
Shifting away from traditional work patterns
In today’s constantly connected world, HR departments are facing the reality that work is “always on”.
“There’s definitely a shift from the traditional nine to five environment, which is being driven by millennials’ new way of working and changing technology,” Ashworth said. “There is a blurred line between what has traditionally been work life and personal life, as people are working varying hours in order to gain satisfaction in both. I don’t think that the traditional working hours will completely disappear, but it will definitely reduce significantly for many industries.”
He said many employers are finding that they need systems and tools that can support the management of a
diverse workforce. “We’re looking to our company’s workers to define how we can do this and relate to them,” Ashworth said. “Companies need to recognise what the workers need – such as flexibility or more access to leaders – in order to achieve a collaborative environment.”
He added that it is important to recognise that work is no longer about the length of hours that someone spends in the workplace – the most valuable thing is the quality of the work they produce, regardless of their time in the office.
Maintaining a positive company culture is vital – particularly in today’s ever-changing world of work. One expert argues that employers cannot facilitate change without establishing a culture to suit a diverse workforce.