People can only thrive in an environment where everyone is heading in the same direction, following a shared set of values.
Healthy work culture has positive implications on happiness at work and employee engagement and productivity. As many as 94% of managers and 88% of employees believe that solid workplace culture can guarantee the success of a business.
One of the main reasons companies fail to keep their employees engaged is letting their workplace culture form as individuals wish. If you are a project manager or business owner, you need to impose your own rules and policies to guide growth and, ultimately, employee happiness.
In this guide, we’ll have a look at how your organization can build a positive workplace culture based on accountability and get everyone in the company involved.
What is workplace culture?
In general, workplace culture refers to your company’s values and policies that all team members should agree with and follow.
The culture we’re surrounded by at work reunites all common values, systems, and attitudes that a company’s managers and employees have acquired in time through their various social interactions, even during their upbringing.
If a person doesn’t align with the workplace principles you support, that’s a clear sign they’re not right for your culture.
Why is a good workplace culture important?
Have you been putting off your workplace culture development? Huge mistake.
Here are the benefits of building a strong workplace culture:
Keep employees happy
Nobody can grow in an unhealthy space. Our work environments, the people we work with, and the different types of managers we have directly impact our performance. A healthy workplace culture prioritizes values and assets all humans appreciate, like respect, organization, care, and diversity.
Some might have difficulties finding these principles elsewhere, so getting all that from your workplace—where you spend half of your day anyway—is definitely a breath of fresh air. Your aim is to turn your office [or Slack channel if you’re working remotely] into that one place where employees would always love to come back to. Once you’ve reached that point, you can say your mission is half-done. All you have to do is maintain this perfect environment.
Note: How can I work remotely? Follow these steps and tips as an introduction to individual and team tactics for remote work.
And no, this is not utopian. I’m sure you too have worked in a place like that at some point but had to leave due to external reasons or low wages. Not an isolated case. Have a look on Glassdoor at some of the top companies people love to work for. There are definitely organizations people have rated with a 5 or 4.9 so look through the reviews and take notes on what you can improve.
Tap into new talent
You know those companies that boast about how they’re fully distributed or have a unique cause they’re supporting? Aim to be like them by providing an overarching value that can attract new employees and have them choose you over other workplaces.
Most job candidates will carefully judge a company based on their values and work culture in general before accepting an offer. Even unemployed people, who might seem desperate for a good reason, are checking for red flags. The real value of having an established [and renowned, if possible] workplace culture is that it can help you get to the top 20% of the most qualified candidates.
This year, the number of candidates looking for a fully remote job is expected to increase significantly. People are now testing the remote life, and you better presume some won’t want to go back once they get accustomed to this new lifestyle.
Use our remote team management guide to stay ahead of the remote work necessity and learn how to keep your virtual employees happy.
Increase people’s productivity at work
Companies that have happy employees and a healthy work culture can bring in considerably more results than their competitors. The reason is simple: they have no stress to drain their energy away and work towards a higher purpose, not just profit.
In fact, your workplace culture acts as the northern light for the values you want to promote but also for the skills and crafts you want your employees/coworkers to excel at. If communicating openly is a huge thing for you, fostering a teamwork spirit where everyone is encouraged to give feedback at all times and contribute proactively is the way to go. For this particular case, your duty as a manager is to encourage these conversations and create more room and time for their development.
Have people meet over a cup of coffee every morning. Get everyone to attend company-wide lunches. Even hold a workcation to get people to bond beyond just work work work.
Need more inspiration? Here are our best 21 ideas for team-building activities to help your employees break their boring daily collaboration routine.
If you run a remote team, these virtual team-building activities will help your team stay connected and have some fun together while taking a break from their work.
Reduce turnover rate and keep teams loyal
Working on building a stronger organizational culture imposes a bunch of actions you need to take. From non-work activities to restructuring the way you handle work and, most importantly, giving recognition to your workers.
It’s mandatory to support every employee and reward them for their performance according to your organization’s values. 40% of people would actually be more engaged at work if they were to receive recognition for their achievements. Unfortunately, as many as 65% of workers haven’t received any kind of appreciation whatsoever. You can only imagine the side effects this would have on a business.
Here’s where a positive culture based on accountability comes in.
One where everyone is responsible for their own work, putting in their best effort, and, in return, always receiving the appropriate credit. With no one knowing you’re behind a deliverable, the chances of your employees “giving a damn” are minimal.
How to get started with building a workplace culture
Culture is never built overnight. It’s something you learn and develop in time, iterating your values step by step through every individual in your company. In many ways, workplace culture is tied to a company’s vision. The latter is commonly owned by the company’s CEO. Managers are usually the ones in charge of emphasizing value over another and communicating it consistently with the rest of the teams.
That said, it’s up to you to decide what causes you support, which stories you share, how you make decisions, and what you celebrate within a team. All this before you even start extending your beliefs to your employees.
Here’s a list of steps and best practices to go through in order to implement a positive workplace culture:
- Start by working on your company’s mission first
- Assign a person to be in charge of implementing and monitoring a workplace culture based on positivity and accountability
- Get your entire team on board
- Set goals at team-level to help you attain your top milestones within the company
- Don’t hire people who are not the right fit from the start
- Launch a program to keep your employees engaged
- Constantly communicate your mission and values to inspire others
- Consider every single action you make on a daily basis as part of your overall mission
- Promote your culture publicly
While a solid workplace culture starts with leadership and initiative, your whole team is involved.
Discuss your organizational values with every single employee, so they feel they’re part of it. Sharing your commitment to a social cause or stopping climate change is one thing, but these values should be a part of your branding, marketing strategy, and your day-to-day company life. That includes how your team works and what activities you commonly pursue.
Getting everyone involved in these common-cause tasks gives them a sense of fulfillment and will have them bragging about how cool their workplace is, turning workers into your most valuable advocates. The old ways of bad companies faking their care for employees no longer work. Future successful organizations must be fully involved in building sustainable workplace cultures and activities supporting global causes.
Pre-existing work culture can be difficult to change. That’s why it would be best for you to take a systematic approach when it comes to developing it and integrating it into your business strategy. This means you’ll need to designate a person who’s going to be responsible for the growth of your workplace culture and keeping it at sane levels.
Using software to create a positive workplace culture based on accountability
So far, we’ve clarified that people are highly motivated by doing work they can put their name on and receive praise or some form of reward.
Before you get started, understand that workplace accountability needs to be applied at all levels within a company. All team-building attempts aside, a company’s culture shows in their work too. Different cultures have distinct work approaches, methods, and tools to help them tackle their daily tasks and stick to their values.
Where to start?
Get your management strategies and procedures in check
Too many teams fail because they’re working aimlessly without concrete policies and methods in place. Project management methodologies come to help when you’re making a sudden culture change or when you want to establish a more organized work environment.
Before contributing to your work culture, employees need to be guided. Improving yourself as a leader first will come a long way in the long run. Beyond any soft skills, you have to learn what methods for handling work would be best for your team and impose them at an organizational level until they can immerse themselves in them.
Managers of small teams, or remote teams, have an easier task. When you’re working with a few employees and projects, simple task lists or detailed task tables will do. You might even consider one of the tools from this list of task prioritization software.
Here’s an example from Paymo, a work management tool that allows you to take your tasks from creation until delivery and get paid for your work:
Detailed table view in Paymo
Once you add on 5+ team members and juggle multiple clients with several projects in parallel, you should opt for a stricter method.
Start your free Paymo trial to start monitoring your own team’s performance.
Using the Kanban method allows you and your team to move tasks through simple drag-and-drop actions from one task stage to another.
This way, teams focus on continuous delivery while the visual boards help you spot bottlenecks at a single glance before further problems arise.
Kanban board view
Need to see Kanban boards in action? Here are 12 examples of Kanban boards in use by different teams.
Another similar method you can opt for in Paymo is the Critical Path Method. In conjunction with Gantt Charts, this method it’s used to set the priorities of a project’s tasks, assign team roles, evaluate potential risks, and organize resources appropriately. This method will help your managers spot milestones, set task dependencies, and establish deadlines easily.
Gantt Chart in use in Paymo
You’ll also need a clear overview of your projects’ health in terms of the time spent from the total hourly budget. For a clear overview of your projects, this displays all details, including the number of finished tasks, hours booked, and Unbilled AR.
Table view for company-wide projects
Communicate what is happening on a project and at a company level
The next step to a work culture based on accountability is to improve internal and external communication. Get everyone to offer feedback and contribute with new ideas to develop an environment everyone will enjoy working in.
From a technical standpoint, this is fairly easy. In a tool like Paymo, you can comment on tasks, receive real-time notifications, and manage your files from a centralized, secure place.
Your job as a manager remains to motivate your employees to share their ideas and voice their problems so other team members can come in to help them. Here’s where employee engagement and recognition come in to keep every single person in your company happy and eager to put in their best work.
Create clear guidelines and rewards for the employees to keep a healthy workplace culture
Every task should come with a set of requirements that need to be met at the end. To note these, add the details in the task description and make use of time estimates, priorities, and reminders to better organize the order in which they should be tackled.
The latter also keeps team members accountable for their work. Examples of work accountability you can handle through simple task details include:
- Completing a task from start to finish
- Delivering consistent results
- Working with specific team members on a task
- Making strategic decisions
- Contributing to reaching a business goal like increasing the number of sales or bringing in more website traffic
Staying accountable for one’s work does not only help employees continue their professional development, but it can also boost your company’s achievements. One of the best ways for you to ensure your team takes full responsibility for their duties is to think of ways to incentivize them.
Employee recognition programs can motivate people to reach their top potential and stay accountable for their own work. Rewarding employees who surpass their usual capabilities will keep them engaged and responsible while reducing turnover rates.
85% of HR professionals say that changing to or implementing some form of employee recognition program has significantly improved their company culture along with engagement rates and organizational values. We need to encourage a new workplace culture of engagement even more so today, thanks to the Great Resignation of 2021.
Offer praise and recognition to your employees
Something as simple as leaving a compliment or “thank you” note in the comments of a task can boost your team’s morale.
Keeping team members accountable starts with setting defined performance guidelines and milestones they need to reach. In Paymo, you can go to your User overview to get performance data for individual workers and assess their results.
User performance overview
From here, you’ll also be able to see how much time an employee has covered from their estimated time for the past 3 months, calculate earnings, and start future conversations around potential promotions and task delivery time.
Time reports are another method for you to monitor an employee’s activity and establish when they’re going to receive recognition for their work.
Time report sample
This prevents burnout as time reports and the resource scheduling module allow managers to spot if any team member is overworked and not getting much rest. Once your team is working continuously for 8 hours, you’ve got an unhealthy culture that employees will no longer want to be a part of.
Nobody can work that much and deliver their best performance. That’s why a workplace culture based on rewarding people for their results is one that will keep employees engaged and accountable without them feeling drained out. So encourage your team and colleagues to take breaks even when they don’t feel like they need one.
All these help build strong employee relationships that will, in return, support and strengthen communication.
Promote fairness and responsibility within your work culture
The number of prerequisites to creating an accountability-based workplace culture is for people to take ownership of their work. Accountability always starts with the examples managers set. If you’re the type of boss who takes responsibility for what’s happening without blaming mistakes on the team, you’re a perfect model to follow.
But you’ll need a few tools to help you keep employees responsible. Time tracking is one such method that will allow you to see how your team’s efforts add up.
Time tracker in Paymo
Time trackers will show you how much time your employees have worked, improve project delivery, and increase team transparency.
All data you record in Paymo is automatically sent into timesheets. By keeping clean timesheets, everyone can work equal hours. Also, being responsible for tracking time regularly increases every employee’s work accountability. No more wasting time or lacking proof of their work.
Timesheets in Paymo
These will keep work efficient, productive, and consistent while offering progress updates to managers. Use key metrics like the number of sales or leads brought in to track how well your employees are meeting expectations on a professional level. This guarantees their development along with the alignment of your business goals with the workload and results.
Haven’t started building an engaging workplace culture yet?
Give it time. Building a solid culture that can help your workplace and business flourish will take years. Accountability should become a habit for everyone. Only consistent effort to avoid procrastinating, put in our best performance, and offer constructive feedback will build a workplace culture that’s able to flourish.
Before you start, list your goals in terms of business and workplace culture to see where these two can meet. To take one step forward, choose a project management tool to help you monitor your goals and keep your team engaged in real-time or asynchronously.
First published on April 13, 2020.