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In a 2013 Booz Hamilton study, 96 percent of organizations surveyed indicated that they needed to make changes to their workplace culture. Easier said than done. Workplace culture, like any culture, is extremely complicated, and as WordSmithRapport founder and professional development expert Karima Mariama-Arthur explains in a post for Black Enterprise, it’s “a shared set of beliefs, customs, values, behavior, and goals that are characteristic of the organization.”

Luckily, Mariama-Arthur has outlined the “6 Key Aspects of Workplace Culture,” and while the article is geared toward workers, it might come in handy for managers and executives looking to affect real change in their offices. Mariama-Arthur certainly thinks it’s possible, and studies like Booz Hamilton’s don’t strike her as entirely negative. “These findings, although grim, suggest an opportunity to improve workplace culture and increase overall commitment, engagement, and positive contributions by employees across the globe.” Scroll down to see her breakdown of workplace culture.

1. Bureaucracy — If your company is bogged down with red tape, Mariama-Arthur writes, it’ll discourage employees from bringing new ideas forward. It might also encourage procrastination. “Any organization encumbered by bureaucracy should ‘pierce the stone fence’ and create dynamic alternatives for pulling ideas and projects forward,” she says.

2. Development Opportunities — If you’re someone who cares about your career and doesn’t simply go through the motions, you need a company that will help you grow and excel — perhaps even earn a promotion. “Organizations that fail to support professional growth are overlooking their biggest asset: human capital,” Mariama-Arthur writes.

3. Job Mobility — You know the phrase “dead-end job?” If you work for a company where there’s no room for advancement, you probably have one. Don’t get stuck in the same position from now until retirement. According to Mariama-Arthur, advancement opportunities “are the cornerstone of a progressive workplace culture that fosters growth.”

4. Channels of Communication — A strong company gives its employees an outlet to voice their concerns and grievances without fear of being chided, ostracized, or worst of all, fired. Firms that fail to foster open communication are bound to foster resentment and frustration among employees, and those things can fester.

5. Flexibility — Nowadays, many companies yet people work from home and take comp days when they’ve put in extra long hours on a project. These and other examples of scheduling flexibility help employees balance personal and professional demands, and they help to discourage burnout.

6. Perks — Even if a company can’t offer huge salaries, it can court high-quality employees by offering things like insurance, bonuses, and free lunches. “A greater degree of comfort equals less worry over minutia and increased focus on the things that matter most,” Mariama-Arthur writes.


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