This article deals with the topic titled ‘Work Culture.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.
What is work culture?
- Work culture refers to how rules/regulations, policies, traditions/rituals, shared values, beliefs and practices contribute to an organization’s unique social and psychological environment.
- The work culture decides how employees interact with each other and how an organization functions.
Important Note: There are two concepts in the syllabus.
- Work Culture: It is concerned with the interaction between workers within the organization and between workers & organization
- Service Delivery: It is concerned with the interaction between the organization and outsiders.
Why work culture is important?
- Sense of identity and belongingness: Employees (including Public Servants) obtain a sense of identity and understand that they belong to a larger community with a sense of commitment to achieve something more significant than their individual interest.
- Acts as a regulating mechanism: Organizational culture shapes attitudes and behaviour by providing the necessary incentives and sanctions. These ensure that the behaviour of the employees is aligned with the organization’s values.
- Attracting talent: It helps attract and keep talented staff as workers prefer to work in an environment where they enjoy spending time.
- Promotes efficiency: A collaborative environment in the organization encourages the employees to work diligently and inspires people to demonstrate the values of responsiveness and efficiency. It creates satisfied employees and increases productivity.
The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission states that poor organizational culture has led to the degradation of values and corruption in administration in India.
Characteristics of a Healthy Work Culture
- Employees are cordial with each other.
- Each employee is treated as one. Partiality leads to demotivated employees.
- Management should appreciate the top performers. But motivating the low performers is essential.
- Healthy work culture encourages discussions at the workplace. Each one should have the liberty to express their views.
- The organization must have employee-friendly policies and practical guidelines. Expecting an employee to work till late at night on his birthday is simply impractical. Rules and regulations should be made for the benefit of employees.
- Promote team-building activities to bind the employees together.
- The “Hitler approach” does not fit in the current scenario. Instead, bosses should be more like mentors to the employees.
Traits of (Healthy) Work Culture of Government Organizations
- Administrative Hierarchy: There should be a clear-cut division of work wherein each level assigns responsibilities to the level beneath it, while each lower level is accountable to the level above for fulfilling those assignments.
- Rules and Procedures: Decisions taken by bureaucrats should be governed by a consistent system of rules, regulations and procedures, which are written, rational and impersonal.
- Communication and consultation: Bureaucratic structure should ensure the free flow of information among all departments and levels in the organization horizontally and vertically regularly.
- Process Simplification: There should be a constant endeavour to move towards process simplification. E.g. adoption of web-based single window clearance systems.
- Inclusiveness: Work culture should be able to inspire and motivate people coming from different cultural backgrounds to achieve organizational goals.
Methods of Improving Work Culture
Work culture can be improved in a number of ways:
- Objective Role Assignment: The role assigned should be as objective as possible
- Remove Role Ambiguity: Role ambiguity should be totally removed.
- Reinforcement in the event of creative expression of the given role.
- Improving communications between management and staff in both directions
- Providing adequate rest breaks to prevent the build-up of fatigue
- Be fair but firm in dealings with subordinates.
- Take an active interest in the personal and family needs/problems of subordinates.
- Take immediate action in cases of indiscipline and do not condone indiscipline in any form and at any level
- Ensuring that jobs that pose a risk and cannot be completely eliminated are rotated so that no individual spends long on that task.