Workplace Culture and Practice

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Workplace Culture and Practice

Today, all practices at the workplace revolve around culture. The term culture has become a central part of the contemporary workplace and signifies a number of changes in the traditional understanding of people about culture. The term ‘culture’ nowadays has been used profoundly in organizations.

Several terms have emerged such as organizational culture, team culture, learning culture, cross-culture, culturally diverse workforce, etc. in the present day workplace learning.

Although culture was present in the workplace in earlier decades, it was not a much-hyped and overtalked phenomenon. Culture has become an overestimated sensation in the modern workplace due to the various meanings people have given to it.

Today, the term culture is often associated with lifestyle practices dominant in an organization. For example, cultural activities in an organization are considered to be high if workplace practices are related to arts or ethnic activities.

These are basically lifestyle practices that are not directly associated with work, but help people to relate themselves to the meaning of their lives. Today, the term culture is more frequently used to define a way of life.’ It describes how individuals and groups connect themselves with shared goals, belief systems, and values.

Earlier work practices were centered around the Fordist model of culture. This model is characterized by scientific management, individual work tasks, roles and responsibilities, and mass production. According to Cope and Kalantzis, in the Fordist model, “the human arrangement of the organization is configured as if it were itself a machine.”

Over the years, this model has lost its relevance. This is because, in today’s contemporary work style, people are less inclined to work in unrewarding and mechanical work culture.

Apart from this, the development of new technologies, better communication practices, shrinking scope of mass production, and increasing demand for specialized goods and services have led to the evolution of a dynamic and ethic-based work culture, often referred to as the new work order or post-Fordism.

In many workplaces, work culture still reflects the hierarchical, fixed horizontal and vertical relationships where job duties are narrowly defined and work practices show characteristics of a Fordist workplace. Nevertheless, as per the contemporary workplace culture and philosophy, an organization should have a culture that promotes teamwork and flattens hierarchies. In the contemporary workplace, work is organized to facilitate employees at various levels to participate in decision-making.

The contemporary workplace culture promotes diversified backgrounds, experiences, and varied perspectives in order to increase the productive potential of teams. As employees engage in diversified activities, the workplace culture is seen as the basis for employee motivation, brand image, and workplace effectiveness. In other words, in the contemporary workplace, culture has become a new technology to manage work and people.

How Google Deliberately Designs Workplace Satisfaction?

According to Karen May, the VP of People Development, at Google, “Imagine a world where most organizations were the best place to work. Imagine what we could be getting done on the planet if it were true.”

There are not many companies that have been able to succeed in having such a deep impact on human life in a short period of time as Google. Google in a very short span has grown from a two-person start-up to an organization with over 35,000 employees spread across 40 countries. This expansion is noteworthy and poses a question that what helped Google to build such an integrated and successfully managed workforce.

Google provides various facilities to employees such as bowling alleys, billiard tables, free haircuts during work hours, free food, gym memberships, and even Wi-Fi-outfitted shuttle rides to work. As it is hard to relate to an organization with so much generosity, they have been judged as an exception. This is simply the work culture of Google that enabled it to get obstinately registered in Fortune’s “Best Places To Work” list for so many years. Some highlights of Google’s workplace culture are:

Google Wants it to be a Great Place to Work

In its early days, the founders of Google, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin had set a vision of making Google a truly great place to work. For this, they identified organizations that are known as the best workplaces in terms of caring for people, driving extraordinary innovation, and building truly remarkable brands.

The organization which acted as Google’s role model was SAS Institute which still ranks as the best multinational company to work for as per the Great Place to Work Institute. Google understood that people remain loyal to their organization only when they gain support and are considered valuable by the organization.

This thought led Google to introduce various benefits and perks for employees. The workplace culture was built on the pillars of trust, transparency, and inclusion. In the process of achieving employee job satisfaction, Google did not seek competitive advantage as much as it was trying to ensure its own sustainable success.

According to Karen May, “it’s less about the aspiration to be number one in the world, and more that we want our employees and future employees to love it here, because that’s what’s going to make us successful.”

Google Ensures People Have Inspiring Work

For years, leaders at Google have provided all employees an opportunity to devote up to 20% of their workweek to a project of their choice. For example, a few years ago, an engineer Chade-Meng Tan decided to achieve world peace in his lifetime.

On the first note, this idea seemed crazy and unattainable, but no one at Google discouraged him. To fulfill his dream, Tan hired the renowned author Daniel Goleman and a professor from Stanford University who could help him to design a course on mindfulness. Their course gained high popularity and is still taught to all new hires at Google.

Employees have uncommon freedom and control of their time: Company leaders at Google strongly believe in giving their employees freedom and consider it the best idea to be progressive.

Employees at Google get several astonishing facilities at the workplace, but at the same time, Google is highly conscious while selecting new employees. People at Google need to be highly ambitious with proven track records of high achievement. Thus, at Google, all that autonomy comes with true accountability and employees routinely exceed management’s expectations for producing exceptional work.

Google is a Democracy and Employees Are Given a Significant Voice

Google aspires to make people’s lives better through technology and to do great things. This is what makes the employees highly ambitious and inspirational. The company believes that doing significant work alone is not sufficient to sustain employee drive and commitment.

What matters most is the ability to give people true influence on how the organization is run. According to May, “If you value people and you care about them as whole people, one thing you do is give them a voice, and you really listen.”

The company places a lot of importance on getting feedback from employees. The employees provide feedback on all important aspects related to business and social responsibility. The top leaders organize an employee forum every Friday and respond to the top 20 questions from employees from all levels.

Not only this, but Google also allows its employees to have access to all important company data. This is done to build a culture of trust among the employees. According to May, “All of this defines the employer-employee relationship very differently.

It creates a different kind of experience being here, and also then creates opportunities for us in what we try to solve together for the world. I think all those add up.”

Article Source
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  • Robbins, S., Millett, B., & Waters-Marsh, T. (2004). Organisational behaviour. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

  • Schein, E. (1985). Organisational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

  • Suri, R., Chhabra, T., Verma, S., & Sharma, P. (2007). International encyclopaedia of organisational behaviour. New Delhi, India: Pentagon Press

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