The Changing Workplace

Facilities Teams to the Rescue – Mending Toxic Company Culture

A recent article from Jim Purcell examined the causes and solutions to broken company cultures and the impact on employees. Jim’s piece opened, ‘Nothing determines business success (or failure) more than workplace culture.’

Problem

A company’s culture impacts operations, employee wellbeing, productivity and overall profitability. Yet, employee well-being across America is at an all-time low.

What is Culture and Where Do Facilities Teams Contribute?

Culture is a complex fabric creating a sense of identity where cultural members (employees) recognize and feel a sense of belonging to. Entities contributing to culture includes language, dress and architecture. The workplace is no different and features many of these cultural building blocks (dress codes or hours of operation, for instance). An organization’s built environment further personifies its culture. It is the manifestation of the company’s Corporate Identity. And, that’s where the FM Team makes their contribution – creating a positive or negative cultural experience through the built environment for the facility user.

Culture is the, ‘seedbed that determines whether employee well-being programs die or flourish. Cultures are embodied and reinforced by leadership styles, procedures and perceptions of what’s valued, rewarded and punished,’ Jim goes on to explain.

While many organizations are looking at their wellbeing levels among staff, the efforts are not effective. Many companies believe, without hard evidence, their wellness programs are making an impact but are blind to how employees actually view, let alone embrace, initiatives. FM’s can impact workplace perceptions by reviewing space deployment (increasing or decreasing how much space a user has), reviewing team adjacencies, change furniture, make adjustments to lighting (natural and artificial), introduce agile areas or social spaces encouraging greater interaction.

The first step for the FM Team to make changes impacting user wellbeing is to understand facility perception from users and examine the impact that the built environment has on users (absenteeism, productivity and attrition rates). Determine how the current workplace culture supports or discourages optimal employee well-being. There are several variables that impact the built-environment perception – from colors (including art), lighting (natural and artificial), air quality (including plants) to furniture and spatial orientation. There are multiple methods to capture this data – such as the Leesman Index. This data will answer:

  • How useful is the space?
  • Is there too much/ too little?
  • How does the space make a user feel?
  • Does the space encourage communication or not?
  • Is the space suitable for each task an employee is responsible for?

All of these questions and more are hugely beneficial to understand a space’s success in supporting a user’s wellbeing.

This deeper analysis outlines to FM Teams areas that need improvement. Building a robust business case identifying both what user’s perceptions are and linking to metrics impacting an organization’s bottom line enables the FM Team to gain buy-in from other stakeholders, securing cooperation and funding for a new program realigning those elements of workplace culture influenced by facilities.

Additionally, capturing perceptions on the built environment helps to prioritize changes (what’s impacting employees the most or balancing changes based on resourcing constraints).

In addition to collecting feedback from building users, include them throughout the planning and development of a new program. One-to-one interviews, focus groups, pilots and questionnaires are useful for ensuring all the time, effort and money being invested is actually going to make a positive impact improving employee wellbeing. Communicate intended changes and allow for questions and pushback. Making changes to the built environment may ruffle feathers and it’s only fair to let everyone air an opinion. Allowing communication also helps to clarify why the change is happening and creates an opportunity to gain additional support – vital to a program’s success.

Cultural failure may stem from within the FM Team. For a program to be successful, it’s important that FM Teams see the connection between well-being and company success.  Build out dashboards incorporating wellness data. Establish benchmarks and set targets assigning responsibility to the FM Team.

Finally, it’s important to regularly review workplace deployment.

What Deploying Supportive Company Cultures Results In

Cultures that are purposefully planned and executed as foundations for successful employee well-being leads to:

  • Higher participation
  • Pervasive peer support
  • Better managers
  • Better business outcomes

Summary

Company culture plays a significant and impactful role in an organization’s success. Facilities Teams can positively impact workplaces and inspire greater wellbeing and pride in workplaces through the deployment of workplaces that cater to what users want.

An excellent employee experience doesn’t happen accidentally. It is the result of thoughtful planning that puts the employee and their role in the organization at the centre of leadership attention resulting in workplaces that reap high productivity levels, pride and enjoyment.