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A Cultural Revolution - In the Workplace

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by Paul Ford

It’s undeniable that when your salary drops into your bank account, the day gets a little better.

However, while it helps us pay the bills and support our lifestyle choices, (‘Hey, let’s get that new bike/car/TV/surfboard now!’) research has shown that money isn’t actually the primary motivator for employees.

A recent study has revealed that the level of pay they received was only sixth on a list of factors that people said were the reasons behind them looking forward to the day’s work. The most popular reason given was… other people.

The survey of 2,000 employed adults also found that the hours people worked, doing a job that they felt they were good at or provided a sense of fulfilment and working as a valued part of a team all were more important than pay day.

A seemingly remarkable 83% of those surveyed stated that workplace culture was a ‘very important’ aspect of working life, but given the amount of time that workers typically spend at work each week, perhaps this is less surprising. There are undoubtedly benefits to creating an environment in the workplace that is friendly, supportive and even fun. We are working in a world of talent shortages and the obvious route to circumvent the worst of that is to just throw money at it. However, when salary isn’t the key driver, you stand a better chance of retaining your brightest and best if the world in which they work is one that is comfortable and encouraging, and that walking through the door, even when the going is hard, promotes a smile. And word of mouth, so often the most reliable method of recommendation, can help in recruiting the skills you need even when perhaps you can’t match salary expectations.

A positive workplace culture is not easy to achieve. There’s an alchemy, a balance of personnel, resources and attitudes that needs to created and maintained. If you’re lucky it happens almost as a happy accident, but more often it’s a conscious decision that has to come from the top and worked on to get right. Engendering a positive attitude in the workplace needs more than a free bar at the annual works Christmas party.

Research last year found that more than 50% of UK employees chose job satisfaction over salary as their key employment drivers, and globally, 50% of men and 37% of women would willingly accept a job at a lower salary level if it made them feel happier and more fulfilled.

You underestimate the power of workplace culture at your peril.


What makes you want to go to work?

1. The People

2. Feeling I'm Good At What I Do

3. The Hours

4. It’s Fulfilling

5. Working As A Team

6. The Salary

7. The Location

8. Feeling Valued

9. An Understanding Manager

10. Feeling Trusted

11. Feeling I Make A Difference

12. The Positive / Welcoming Atmosphere

13. Every Day Is Different

14. Stability

15. Meeting New People

16. It Lets Me Be Creative

17. Being Allowed To Do The Job Properly

18. Working With Friends

19. Learning New Things

20. The Leadership