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Why should you adopt an open working culture in the age of the individual?

Written by Ed Fletcher on Wednesday, 22 August 2018. Posted in Engagement, People

Having an open culture can help you retain talent and get the best out of the it

Why should you adopt an open working culture in the age of the individual?

Over the course of a lifetime, the average person spends over 90,000 hours at work. That’s more than ten years in total. When it comes to how this time is spent, we are the masters of our own destinies. Most of us seek fulfillment in our jobs but, for this to happen, we all need to feel that our opinions are respected.

In the past, businesses tended to be structured hierarchically. This meant one person at the top of the pyramid, filtering down to the rest of the team. However, there are clear problems with this.

If those at the top are making decisions for the rest of the company,  it’s not always clear what those decisions are based on? Is there regard for the team’s day-to-day experiences? This culture of the past works even worse as we’re now in ‘the age of the individual’ and, as such, businesses are increasingly moving towards a more open working culture.

This type of culture favours leadership over management, empowering teams to shine and truly achieve their full potential. All the while, it directly responds to individuals’ needs by listening to their issues, understanding them and responding.

Ultimately, if a business works in this way, its team is more likely to feel looked after. And when people are supported and encouraged, they do their best work. So, what is an open working culture?

Creating an open office culture is not simply down to offering perks. It goes beyond childcare vouchers and a cycle to work scheme. Although this is a part of it, culture cannot be bought. It must be created.

In the short term, employee benefits might help a firm to attract talent. But will it retain the best people in the long-run?

First of all, it’s important to look at what people want from their working life.

A recent survey by Harvard Business Review found that 58% of people would be more inclined to trust a stranger more than their own boss. Similarly, O.C. Tanner conducted a global study, which found that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite a ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving. Recognition was also stated as the number one thing that employees said their managers could give them to inspire them.

As such, businesses need to promote a culture built on a philosophy of collective consciousness. The hierarchy should be deconstructed to allow for creativity to thrive through a focus on every individual, with managers utilising leadership techniques to nurture talent and instill confidence at every level.

After all, it’s individuals that make a team. And this is exactly what an open working culture focuses on.

Industry leaders

According to Great Places to Work, those with a successful work culture surpass their competitors twice over on the stock market. As a result, the open working culture is becoming more widely adopted, with some businesses really leading the way.

For example, SquareSpace, the tech firm, is regularly voted as one of New York’s best places to work, thanks to its company culture being “flat, open and creative.”

Although this seems obvious for startup businesses – normally considered more agile and able to adapt than larger firms – open working culture can be achieved by companies of all sizes. Google, for example, has long been synonymous with promoting a stellar working culture – something it’s fought to retain as it’s grown. And even in traditional sectors, such as law, firms like ours are embracing this culture to mine the many benefits.

What are the benefits to promoting an open working culture?

There are multiple benefits associated with embracing an open working culture. By being generally more open and honest, the trust between employer and employee is greatly increased. As is loyalty.

This was the case for HubSpot, which made all of its employees “insiders”, allowing them access to financial data before it was made public. The idea was to make its workers feel more invested in the company’s success.

From first-hand experience, I can vouch that the benefits are plentiful. From employee motivation through recognition and appreciation, to involvement in business decisions, companies can expect to see improved staff retention, cooperation and greater job satisfaction across its employee base.

As the lines between work and life become increasingly blurred, it’s the responsibility of employers to fit around their teams. And if our happiness at work is based on our culture, then doesn’t it make complete sense that this is where our improvements should start?

About the Author

Ed Fletcher

Ed Fletcher is the CEO of Fletchers Solicitors, the UK’s leading medical negligence and serious injury law firm.

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