Workplace culture is part of a business’ identity and it has a huge influence on the employees who operate within it. This influence can wield both positive and negative results.
The Lotus Awards are a unique concept that celebrates companies that foster a creative, collaborative workplace culture. We speak to the award’s founder, James Murphy, about the importance of recognising businesses who’ve built them and why it’s so important to the modern workforce.
In your own words, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I like to think of myself as a social entrepreneur. After many years and plenty of mistakes, I think I’ve found my place. Hopefully, through the several businesses I’m involved in I can make a positive impact.
In your opinion, what is employee engagement and why is it important?
“This is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential”. David Macleod:
I know that’s not my opinion but it’s a definition I really like.
Simply put, better engagement means better productivity. Organisations whose employees are engaged perform better than companies whose employees are not.
Great organisations make employee engagement look easy. However, they work really hard to make it seem this way. If engagement feels forced or fake it isn’t really engagement.
I don’t think we should get too caught up with the phrase ’employee engagement’. For some people, it has negative connotations and is associated with gimmicks.
The end goal is to have employees with a sense of purpose and pride in what they do. Employees should be given opportunities to develop themselves. The organisation should treat them fairly and with respect. In return, the employees will do great work.
What role does ‘company culture’ play in employee engagement?
I believe in organisations working as harmonious ecosystems. Culture and engagement are different but are both integral to this ecosystem.
Companies that lack a strong culture may still have employees who are engaged. However, issues like distrust or lack of purpose may still be present in engaged workforces.
On the other hand, organisations with great cultures have a real advantage in engaging employees. Culture is a strong predictor of engagement and is the foundation of operational success.
Start with culture and with the right approach, engagement will follow.
The Lotus Awards recognises businesses across all industries, sizes and stages in their journey. While their approaches to engagement might be very different, are there any commonalities?
The Lotus Awards founding principle is that we celebrate what makes businesses unique. So the similarity is that each business is true to who they are. Great organisations are authentic.
Why do you think it’s important to recognise businesses who promote positive company culture?
Recognising employee’s contributions and accomplishments are an important part of creating a great culture.
Recognition from peers and leadership should be part of any successful organisation’s strategy. When employees know that their efforts are appreciated, it increases their self-esteem and satisfaction with their job.
Their improved attitude towards their job encourages them to aim for quality and increases productivity.
The same is true when a business receives external recognition. This doesn’t just have to be awards. Recognition from suppliers or customers is great for the morale of employees.
Do you think technology is redefining the definition of the workplace? What effect does it have on employers/employees?
We are currently in the 4th industrial revolution. This is down to the advancements in technology. Advancement in AI and robotics, for example, are transforming the world so it makes perfect sense that workplaces will change due to this.
Ultimately digital workplaces are intended to improve the way we work. They should deliver more flexibility, ensure we’re better connected and more efficient but ultimately a workplace is still reliant on relationships between people. I think the workplace is evolving like society, different generations want and expect different things.
What’s your favourite example of how a business empowered their employees?
Empowering employees is completely unique to that business. My favourite examples are businesses who listen. They take advice and look at what is being done but they do what is right for them. They make mistakes, adapt and always try to improve.
I am a huge fan of businesses that embrace corporate social responsibility and those that take it above and beyond to create positive change.
Any advice for businesses looking to improve their workplace culture? Where should they start?
Building a company culture takes time and effort. It doesn’t just happen overnight. Your culture should align with your mission and values and it should resonate with everyone in the organisation.
Focus on things like transparency, communications, recognition and teamwork.
Remember the thing about culture is you can’t copy it, you can’t transfer it, it’s unique to your organisation. That’s what will make it great.
Creating a dynamic workplace culture with The One Question
As James covered, one of the cornerstones of a positive workplace culture is creating an ecosystem where employees feel valued. In order to do this effectively, you need to know how they feel. Check out The One Question and why you need to ask it to see how you could transform the culture and engagement in your business.