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Insight Culture

February 2, 2017

Making Culture Count for Your Organization

Survey data from Gallup indicates that two-thirds of American employees are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. And the results of that portion of the workforce are costly to employers: high voluntary turnover rates, absenteeism, employee stress, health care costs, safety incidents, lower productivity, customer satisfaction ratings, and profits.

“Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 billion and $550 billion each year in lost productivity,” Gallup says. “They are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their co-workers, miss work days, and drive customers away.”

And the opposite is true, as well. Businesses with the most engaged employees enjoy higher profits, along with:

  • 21 percent increased productivity;
  • 10 percent higher customer ratings;
  • 65 percent less voluntary turnover (for low turnover organizations);
  • 37 percent less absenteeism;
  • 49 percent less safety incidents; and
  • 28 percent less shrinkage.

So how can you, as an employee or boss, create an environment where people actually want to come to work? Culture Counts Coach Sarah Carr shares these tools that you can use to engage your employees, create a better work climate, and foster the growth of your organization.

Acknowledge Your Feelings At Work

Most of us know that bottling up our feelings inside is not a good idea. But the opposite is just as true — having an outburst at work if you’re angry or upset can cause strife and discontent.

“There’s this misconception that people have about feelings at work,” Sarah says. “It assumes that feelings are something to be managed — like keeping a beast in a cage — versus realizing that everyone has feelings and that acknowledging them is more powerful than yelling.”

When you acknowledge your feelings at work, something dynamic occurs. Instead of wasting energy on creating drama, expressing your feelings allows the energy around you to be used in productive and creative ways.

“The idea is to allow your feelings to be there and move through them,” says Sarah. “If you build a dam in a river, it’s going to build up and create a lake. Try to keep the energy of feelings moving and flowing instead of trapping the emotions inside.”

Have challenging conversations.  

There are any number of quotes or quippy sayings about how communication is essential to business, but the truth is that many people never learn how to effectively communicate, even if they have an MBA.

“It’s almost like you’re already supposed to know how to have these challenging conversations, but most of us just don’t,” Sarah says. “Even the person who’s never afraid to say something  can come across like a bull in a china shop. It’s not really relationship-building, which is what effective business is all about.”

Create clear agreements.

One way to effectively communicate is through creating clear agreements. A powerful, clear agreement has two parts: a clear request that spells out exactly what you want and by when, and an honest response from the person receiving the request in the form of yes, no, or a counter-offer. A clear request does not begin with “I need you to” or “I want you to” — it begins with “would you” or “will you.” And it is important that the person receiving the request feel free to answer honestly.

Differentiate between facts and stories.

“This person at work is doing this in order to hurt me.” “That employee is messing up on purpose to make me look bad.” “My boss is punishing me personally because my team missed a deadline.”

Have you ever had one of these or similar thoughts? It often seems like someone is always doing something to us. People think their bosses don’t understand them. Managers think their employees aren’t accountable.

The content may be different, but fundamentally, when the facts and the stories don’t match, conflict is created. Facts are data-based — what a video camera would record. Stories are our interpretation of facts — they are opinions, beliefs, and assumptions we hold.

For example:

  • Fact: There are 10 typos in this document.
  • Story: Jen doesn’t care about her work.

Successfully differentiating between facts and stories encourages people to take 100 percent responsibility for their stories and to hear and honor other people’s perspectives of the world.

“Something big happens when you tell the truth to yourself and your employees,” Sarah says. “It opens up a space that invites that person into a conversation with you…and ultimately you will feel more present, and more energized.”

Do you use these tools regularly at work? If not, which ones would you like to see implemented? At Culture Counts, we can help you assess which tools may or may not be working. Email us at to see how we can partner with you.


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