Role of Culture in People Happiness


Today, when the unemployment rate is at an all-time low in many countries all over the world, organizations are struggling with people related topics like how to attract talent, how to engage employees, what kind of culture to create so that people would be loyal and feel happy at work, etc.

So let’s stop here for a moment and think about organizations culture and how can it influence workplace happiness.

First things first. So what is organizational culture? According to Business Dictionary, it is the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations.

Creating a positive and healthy culture for your team rests on a few major principles. Research shows that the qualities of a positive workplace culture boil down to six essential characteristics: (1) Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.  (2) Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling. (3) Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes. (4) Inspiring one another at work. (5) Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work. (6) Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

It is inevitable for organizations to think thru what kind of culture they want to create.  According to Delloite, organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organizational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and will likely beat their competition in attracting top talent.

It is definitely easier say than do, but one must start from somewhere. So, most important is to have a vision what you want to achieve and then start to follow that.

Organizations are made of people and people are the ones that are creating the culture. To achieve the culture that you have visioned you should make sure that you are hiring for culture fit.

Smart managers know that.

In Zappos, well known online shoe and clothing store, for instance, they take the cultural fit seriously and therefore hire slowly. If a potential employee fails to pass the cultural fit interview (50% of the weight in hiring), he or she is not invited to meet the hiring manager and other employees. Zappos has even gone one step further in here: in case the person is hired but haven’t become Zappos insider (meaning committed to the goals and the culture) then they can take $3,000 to leave the company.

Culture is taken seriously also in TransferWise (a company offering money transfer services) who hired, according to one of their founder Kristo Käärman, about 200 people in 2014, going from 45 to 245 people in twelve months. It takes on average 4 interviews to become a Wiser. Some people have come through 8-9 rounds, case studies and trial days. The final step for every candidate is the founder’s interview. While the first interviews focus on the technical skills and the candidate’s fit for getting the job done, then this interview is about fitting into the culture.

Google, one of the best places to work according to Universum study,  is an employer who focuses heavily on culture and wants to make sure that they hire the best people. According to this Forbes article,  Google looks for four key traits in candidates: general cognitive ability, leadership, Googleyness and role-related knowledge. Yes, that is correct, they are looking for Googleyness (it’s not just the term from movie Internship), aka cultural fit with the organization.

How do you manage to create a happy workplace culture in your organization? Share your story, leave your comment!


Sources used in this post:


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