The human need to belong – or “belongingness” – is shared by most of us. The basic desire for validation and human connection drives us to form bonds with partners, friends and colleagues. And having that desire fulfilled does wonders for our self-confidence and mental wellbeing.
As the majority of us spend most of our lives at work, having our sense of belongingness fulfilled in the office is an important part of our relationship with what we do for a living. And at the core of that relationship is company culture.
What is company culture?
Company culture is the defined set of values that gives an organisation its own unique character. Beyond the textbook definition, though, what it really is, is the company’s personality. While we know full well that companies aren’t people, culture gives them a life of their own. And if staff members clash with that core personality, they are far less likely to be happy working there, and far less likely to be engaged.
Company culture directly affects the way people feel about their work. When corporate values align with what people believe in, it simply makes them happier to be there. Culture is far from one-dimensional. It encompasses team spirit, value-adds that make it worthwhile for employees to come to work, personal relationships, various freedoms and even workplace design.
More than just ping-pong tables
Some corporate leaders who are “all about the bottom line” may claim that the idea of company culture is a soft issue that has very little value in terms of productivity. But that somewhat short-sighted approach doesn’t take into account the fact that all businesses are built on relationships – not just external ones but internal ones, too.
When employees identify with a company’s core values and ethos, they are more likely to feel good about the work they do. By the same token, nobody works in a vacuum. When collaboration and common ground are fostered in the company culture, the need for belongingness begins to be fulfilled because we feel included and valued. Happier people are more productive. They also tend to stay around for longer, making staff retention more likely.
Company culture more now than ever is being tested within businesses. For some individuals, that sense of belonging when isolated in a 5 days a week work from home scenario is near on impossible. Equally, if that culture, sense of teamwork and belonging isn’t present, it may start to show when team members choose not to come to the office to collaborate or engage with others, and therefore a happy medium is something we are all striving for.
We are human after all
People buy people. We don’t sign up to become part of a faceless corporate entity. At every touchpoint in our careers, we are met by other human beings. They interview us, sit across from us, share lifts with us, and interact with us during the commute (sometimes). This is part of human nature and no amount of virtual technology can replace that real life, impromptu connections.
An effective company culture makes those human interactions more pleasant. And one way of doing that is by cultivating collaborative spaces in and around the office. With social distancing in mind, this does pose a few challenges, but it can be done. Think about how conducive the seating in common areas is to conversation. Consider colours and biophilic design that can enhance the mood and always put employees’ comfort first so that they will want to embark on that journey to the office with a smile.
Start with YOU.
At Sagal, we are believers in creating inspiring spaces that nurture collaboration, success and belonging. The future of the workplace will very much revolve around a company’s culture, ethos and way of working. As part of our vision, we want to help build environments that allow people to flourish in their workplaces and love where they work.
Browse some of our customer installations here.