A conducive workplace culture plays a crucial role in the prosperity of any organization. The ultimate result is heightened efficiency, improved employee involvement, and greater financial gains.
Therefore, it’s essential to establish a culture that encourages employee growth and acknowledges their input. Recognizing that workplace culture encompasses both employee conduct and the company’s principles is crucial.
In this week’s instalment of Let’s Talk, we asked our specialists about strategies for nurturing a work culture that actively involves employees.
Dawn Adams, Griffith University Industry Fellow and Founder at Imagination Session
“Introducing new and different team building opportunities can create a more dynamic workplace that engages employees to build a community at work with shared goals.
“At Imagination Session®, our workshops encourage employees to tap into their imaginations to grow their abilities to find unique ideas and solutions. We remind that by nurturing our imaginations, we can become better at problem solving and decision making as well as leading or being part of a team that promotes the sharing of ideas.
“With imagination, we touch happiness in laughter-filled interactions that build community and grow a more positive work culture. We discover imagination can take you anywhere; maybe even to your next big idea that could transfer across to the ‘real’ world to become a business innovation.
“Imagination is so exciting and going on the journey in a workplace can energise and breathe life into its everyday.”
Byron Van Gisborne, CEO at Zonda Group
“Creating a positive work culture that enhances employee engagement demands a careful equilibrium between essential factors including the ability to strike a balance between work-life balance, creating avenues for career progression, and competitive compensation.
“These steps apply broadly across all industries. We work in healthcare recruitment and this is especially the case because of the critical shortages of professionals in this sector.
“Perhaps the number one strategy that we advise our partners is to listen to what their workers want.
“Healthcare service providers, and most businesses in other industries, need to really listen and understand what professionals want to achieve and what training and development will help them with that.
“By really listening to the aspirations of workers, organisations can tailor their strategies to meet individual goals and provide targeted training and development.
“This not only aids professionals in achieving their ambitions but also fosters a sense of value and investment.
“When employees perceive opportunities for growth aligned with their desires, the resulting engagement and commitment can be transformative.”
Jonathan Perumal, Country Manager ANZ at Safeguard Global
“It is important for businesses to regularly check in with employees to identify any issues early on and ensure that they are happy in their work environment – this is the first step in fostering a people-centric work culture that caters to employees’ needs, desires, and professional development, ultimately improving employee engagement.
“A positive work culture is created when businesses cultivate and nurture their employees, treating them as people first and labour second. For example, regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees about the logic behind the work that is being done, the effectiveness of processes, and how employees can progress in their careers, demonstrate that the business values its workers and is creating space for their voices to be heard.
“At Safeguard Global, we embrace the Work in Any Way approach, defined by adopting people-centric policies that cater to each individual’s circumstances, and go above and beyond to support employees’ health and wellbeing. This includes adopting flexible hours for global staff or allowing employees to work how and where suits them best, such as remotely as opposed to in the office.”
Lisl Pietersz, Communication and Transition Coach, University of Sydney
“Smart leaders commit to building a positive work culture because they know it is the key to building a successful business. Below are my top hacks – as a communications adviser – to create a culture of thrive where employees are engaged to do their best work:
- Showcase your vision and values. Organisations must connect employees’ work with a bigger purpose, as this creates meaning, stimulates passion, and a sense of belonging. Every employee has a purpose, and they must be able to connect it to what your organisation does and the larger purpose it serves.
- Empower people. Give employees autonomy to make decisions, as appropriate to their level of experience. Also ensure they have the right tools and resources to perform their duties and are clear on work processes. Most importantly, recognise and reward great work.
- Mandate and role model work/ life balance. Promote policies that support employees’ well-being and offer a sustainable way to work.
- Foster innovation and diversity. Encourage employees to collaborate, experiment, and create. In this way, you can nurture a culture of innovation and fun. Even better, implement an innovation process like Design Thinking, for example, to help employees’ problem solve. Hire and nurture a diverse workforce which brings many benefits including boosting your organisation’s innovation capabilities.
“Implementing these culture hacks will help you to create a positive work culture with engaged employees and satisfied customers.”
Stephen Macdonald, Organisational Psychologist and Co-Founder of The Human Link
“Creating a positive workplace culture rests in the hands of leaders. Leaders who truly value human attributes such as humility, compassion and curiosity are able to develop a deeper understanding of their employees values and subsequently identify the drivers to enhance engagement. Workplaces where employees are able to use their strengths are more often than not engaged in the work that they do and also act in more positive ways towards their organisation.
“The benefits of understanding your team extends beyond solely engagement, also supporting employee loyalty and performance. By reverse engineering roles and responsibilities based on their employee’s values, leaders can hold their teams accountable for completing their work in a manner that those around feel they are valued, which further empowers employees to do their best work.”
David Price, Group CEO ANZ at Employsure
“A positive work culture is paramount for boosting employee engagement and fostering a thriving workplace and a few simple steps is all it takes to create a positive work environment for everyone.
“Effective communication is key. Transparent and open communication builds trust and ensures that employees feel heard and valued.
“Empowerment also plays a pivotal role. Encourage employees to take ownership of their tasks and provide opportunities for skill development and growth. Recognise and celebrate achievements, both big and small, to motivate and affirm their contributions.
“Foster collaboration by creating spaces where teamwork flourishes. Encourage cross-functional projects and idea sharing, to cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
“Leading by example. When leaders exhibit enthusiasm, respect, and a strong work ethic; it sets a positive tone for the entire organisation.
“Finally, a positive work culture is built on communication, empowerment, collaboration, and leadership. Not only does it enhance employee engagement, it also contributes to increased productivity, lower turnover, and overall business success.”
Jo Stewart-Rattray, Oceania Ambassador, ISACA
“A strong workplace culture can boost productivity, innovation and employee engagement. Ultimately, it hinges on four key pillars:
- Inclusivity must be championed and this means fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are not only valued, but embraced and encouraged. In particular, under-represented groups must feel comfortable contributing and feel a sense of belonging.
- Career opportunities must be clearly defined and most importantly, attainable. This ignites motivation and loyalty, as employees can see a future within the organisation.
- Team activities are essential to boosting camaraderie and collaboration, helping to break down barriers and enhance problem-solving.
- Mentorship fuels professional growth and engagement, as employees are supported when refining their skills and setting objectives. Mentorship enables knowledge sharing and positive guidance which helps to build confidence and respect among employees.
“When these four elements intertwine, a positive workplace culture emerges where individuality is celebrated, pathways for advancement are available and teams work collaboratively. The positive impact on productivity, loyalty, job-satisfaction and quality of output is immense.”
Michael Alp, Managing Director ANZ at Cohesity
“To create a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement, organisations should strive to ensure that employees have the ability to learn and grow, can plan for and be guided in their pursuit of success, are provided with realistic opportunities to collaborate with colleagues or cross-functional teams both in-person and virtually, and that an environment where accountability is celebrated and failure is seen as teachable moment is fostered. It is these cultural elements that boost employee engagement because they help create definable opportunities for career progression, strike the important balance between the breadth and depth in a role, and instil a culture where employees are encouraged to exceed expectations.
“At Cohesity, we have core values that are defined by the ‘RADIO’ principles of Respect, Positive Attitude, Deliver, Integrity and Customer Obsession. These values are designed to guide employees in how they act, make decisions, and interact with one another. Each organisation must determine what values are relevant and should drive their ethos, leadership, and individual employees. However, if organisational values are not clearly defined and communicated company-wide, or practised by leaders and managers, then the impact of these values will have a limited, and likely minimal impact.”
Beni Sia, APJ Lead at Veeam Software
“One part of fostering a positive work culture is transparently communicating an organization’s mission, values, and goals. While this sets expectations on why each person participates within the business, culture cannot be solely set through top-down leadership or with the expectation that every member of a team contributes in exactly the same way. It’s equally important to listen to how each person wants to reach an organization’s goals as it’s entirely possible to have the same aim, but not feel comfortable in the way it is done.
“Listening to a workforce allows organizations to become more attuned on the “how”, identify what behaviors should be recognized and rewarded, and set up processes and actions to address pitfalls. At Veeam we conduct a combination of regular spot surveys to continually listen and gauge whether we’re on the right track, as well as an annual Veeam Voice check in where we apply significant resources behind the most important issues our employees want to address.
“Lastly, flexible work arrangements are here to stay. There are benefits to in-person engagements, including team-building and maintaining social-support networks, and these should be encouraged while keeping in mind the unique work-life balance requirements of each individual. Rather than force the full-time return to an office, we’ve asked how teams themselves would foster more serendipitous moments that contribute to our culture. We find that teams tend to self-organize, make more requests for in-person activities, while respecting individual differences.”
Mark Fioretto, Area Vice President and Managing Director ANZ at UiPath
“One significant step that organisations must take to create a positive workplace culture and boost employee engagement, especially among Millennial and Generation Z workers, is to adopt AI-powered automation.
“A recent UiPath survey shows that 67% of Australian workers believe AI-powered automation will improve job fulfilment by addressing key employee issues such as burnout. The survey also shows that 61% of Australian workers would view an employer more favourably if the organisation used automation to support employees and modernise operations.
“This is because automation has a significant role to play moving forward in helping drive increased employee collaboration, improving workplace flexibility and helping fast-track career progression for many workers.
“Just as importantly it empowers employees, through user-friendly interfaces, to optimise and redefine the way they work to best suit their needs, which ultimately results in more productivity, greater employee retention and better bottom line results for organisations.”
SoHyun Kang, Regional Manager for APAC at Project Management Institute
“Within an economic environment of falling productivity and skill shortages, Australian businesses must invest in upskilling their workforce to increase talent retention and engagement company-wide.
“By supporting employees’ professional growth, an organisation can drive performance and productivity by tapping into individual aspirations, whilst fostering a positive culture of continuous learning and development – both of which ultimately lead to improved business outcomes. In fact, research from PMI found that 57% of young professionals are likely to leave their jobs due to a lack of professional development opportunities.
“A good place to start is project management certifications and micro-credentials. By obtaining a globally-recognised certification, like PMI’s PMP or CAPM, professionals can gain foundational tools to succeed, unlock higher earning potential and increase job satisfaction.
“Other simple steps include:
- Lean on power skills and project-based learning to help employees realise their potential, drive motivation and engagement.
- Consider financial incentives to show your support and investment in employees’ professional development. PMI also found that 76% of young professionals are more likely to pursue certifications if their employer offers reimbursement.
- Adopt agile business practices that increase organisational resilience to change and allow employees to thrive in fast-paced, innovative environments. This reduces burnout and increases engagement long-term.”
James Harkin, APAC Senior Director at Lucid
“Businesses that want to create a positive work culture and bolster employee engagement must look beyond cosmetic fixes and instead make significant and continued investments dedicated to establishing environments where agility, collaboration, and learning are prioritised.
- Agility: Embracing agility requires a cultural shift away from conventional business practices. Leaders should prioritise an iterative approach to work — breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks to improve efficiency and allow teams to see the tangible results of their work. Organisations that promote adaptability and empower decision-making give employees the autonomy to take ownership and accountability of their work.
- Collaboration: Organisations that utilise tools designed to foster better collaboration are more agile and responsive to change. Enabling teams to share ideas and feedback in real time, through the use of visual collaboration tools, creates an environment of transparency and promotes a more holistic approach to work.
- Learning: Teams that are continuously learning and growing will be more satisfied with their work. Businesses should offer opportunities for skills diversification and refinement that are interactive, engaging and stimulating. Taking note of how employees learn best, for example with visual tools or one-on-one mentoring, will boost engagement by demonstrating the organisation’s dedication to career progression.”
Paul Broughton, Head of APJ at Cornerstone OnDemand
“Creating a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement involves a multifaceted approach. Businesses should prioritise personalised learning and development by creating training programs that cater to each employee’s unique needs, skills, and career goals, and which fosters individual growth and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to its workforce.
“Consider implementing a Talent Experience Platform (TXP) to provide an extensible, AI driven solution that facilitates employee development and engagement. A TXP streamlines learning, performance, skills and talent mobility processes, providing a personalised, holistic approach and enhancing the overall employee experience.
“Alongside harnessing the latest technology, companies should aim to promote a positive and communicative environment by encouraging transparency, feedback, appreciation and development opportunities. By combining these elements, businesses can set themselves on the right path to boost employee engagement, loyalty and retention.”
Damien Sheehan, Country Head of Australia at IWG
“Following the pandemic, there has been a fundamental corporate mindset shift. Businesses now need to think beyond the traditional tenets of employee engagement and offer value-added benefits especially around work-life balance. This will be crucial to creating a positive work culture.
“A positive work culture is characterised by happy and productive employees and can be seen in organisations that prioritise employee well-being. Hybrid working models have been recognised as one of the best solutions to boosting employee well-being and productivity. In fact, an IWG research found that 66 per cent people credit good mental health to the shift towards hybrid working.
“Hybrid work options help employees accommodate their personal lives and can greatly reduce burnout risk. Employees who have flexibility to divide their working hours between working in the corporate HQ, their home, and a local co-working space, experience myriad benefits like better work-life integration, increased productivity, increased savings and reduced commuting time.
“From an organisational standpoint, it’s a win-win for businesses as they benefit from increased workforce productivity and employee attraction and retention.
“As businesses navigate the new world of work, those that offer benefits like hybrid work are poised to have the most engaged workforce.”
Tony Maguire, Regional Director for ANZ at D2L
“Creating a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement requires a multifaceted approach. In today’s competitive landscape, companies are striving to attract and retain talent through measures like flexibility for remote work or four-day weeks.
“One pivotal strategy for nurturing a positive work culture is investing in lifelong learning programs facilitated by Learning Management Systems (LMS). Employees thrive when they have opportunities for continuous growth. By offering tailored learning paths, companies not only equip their workforce with essential skills but also demonstrate a commitment to their employees’ development.
“Learning not only enhances employee engagement but also positions them as resources equipped for evolving business needs. An LMS further enhances this process, enabling consistent training and monitoring progress. They contribute to a culture of growth, fostering a sense of belonging, which encourages longevity.
“While material perks are beneficial, lasting engagement stems from an environment that nurtures inclusivity, learning and development. By cultivating a culture of learning, businesses can develop loyalty, resilience and innovation, creating a work environment where employees find purpose, satisfaction and a desire to contribute positively.
“In the quest to stand out in the competitive job market, investing in employee growth and engagement emerges as the ultimate differentiator, solidifying organisations as magnets for top talent and establishing them as employers of choice.”
Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia
“Regardless of how small your business is and whether you employ one or hundreds, creating a positive work culture is imperative to both team happiness and long-term business success.
“With most of us spending on average 38 hours a week at work, having fulfilled and engaged employees also creates a ripple effect with customer happiness as well – happy employees mean happy customers.
“No matter your business size, here are some tips to help you create harmony in the workplace:
- Tip 1: Show your employees how valued they are
Recognition is one the best ways to show your staff how valued they are. Taking time to thank them for the work they are doing, celebrating their milestones—from birthdays to work anniversaries—or giving them an extra day off all go a long way in feeling valued.
- Tip 2: Keep an open line of communication flowing
Communication is vitally important in organising and building teams. Open and frequent communication among team members, particularly in a smaller business, helps to build trust, strengthen collaboration and establish or enhance a shared sense of purpose.
- Tip 3: Allow Employees to Be More Flexible
It’s no surprise that overworked employees are more apt to burnout, which can result in decreased productivity and lack of engagement.
“By offering employees the ability to work flexible hours, you allow them to better balance their personal and professional lives, reduce stress and improve their overall wellbeing.”
Kevin Algeo, CEO APAC & Africa at IG
“At IG Group, we are committed to creating a culture where all our people can achieve their potential, and where our leadership at every level reflects the diversity of our people as well as the markets in which we operate. We have some of the best talent in our industry and foster an environment which allows our people to excel. An engaged, motivated, talented team means we can stand out and deliver for our clients.
“We recognise that our people are all individuals, and we engage with them in as many different ways as possible, from social channels to surveys, townhalls to smaller workshops, and everything in between. Our home-grown employee networks promote inclusion and help us better understand all employee experiences.
“We’re aware that highly engaged employees perform better and do great work, they manage pressures and work / life balance better, and stay in organizations for longer. We therefore focus on three important levers that managers have available to boost engagement is to 1.) help their people connect what they care about with what they do, 2.) make the work they’re doing more enjoyable and meaningful, and 3.) reward and recognise employees with important financial and non-financial incentives.”
Ross McDonald, Country Lead at Perkbox Australia
“Companies have their challenge ahead of them. Building any form of work culture is now more difficult than ever before thanks in part to remote work.One area that we’ve noticed has fallen off the radar of many organisations is reward and recognition.
“It’s easy for employees to feel under-appreciated when working remotely. So employers need to ramp up their efforts in this regard to keep their teams engaged and motivated.
“A recent survey we ran found a misalignment between employees and their managers regarding both the level of recognition they receive and the relevance of any rewards for efforts,Training managers to call out good work and celebrate it is imperative and a good starting point.
“Beyond this, companies need to look at offering rewards that are relevant to the individual they are incentivising. Giving a bottle of wine to someone who doesn’t drink for example can come off as a bit thoughtless and thankless.”
Natalie Dopp, Chief People Officer at HireVue
“A positive work culture is critical to the success and productivity of any organisation as it directly impacts job satisfaction, retention rates, and overall performance. Culture cannot be forced. However, it can be built but engagement is a vital piece of the puzzle. Maintaining engagement can often require a multifaceted approach that will vary for each individual organisation. However, there are some steps that are easily adopted in businesses of all sizes.
“Strong employee engagement is built on a foundation of trust and camaraderie. An easy starting point is to encourage clear, open and honest communication throughout your business. Create team frameworks where feedback can be shared and addressed on an ongoing basis, transparently share business information and updates, create opportunities for active participation in discussions and decision-making.
“Outside of this, you can also introduce workplace incentives to help boost employee engagement. Granting flexibility in work hours allows individuals to work in line with their own productivity peaks, scheduling social events encourages team bonding, providing training opportunities allows employees to upskill in areas they are interested in and providing health and wellness initiatives can help your team to feel supported in a more holistic way.
“The key to success is to ensure you are regularly and consistently listening to the needs of your own employees. Find out what motivates them and what support they look for and build your strategy around those insights.”
Darren Bretherton, Senior Business Development Manager at Zebra Technologies ANZ
“Frontline workers are always on the go. This can often lead to burnout in times of demand spikes, smaller associate pools and increased responsibilities. This is why it is especially important for business leaders to prioritise supportive measures for their staff. To do this, business leaders can equip their team members with the right tools they need to make their job as easy as possible.
“According to Zebra’s Global Shopper Study, 80% of surveyed retail associates agree stores that leverage technology and mobile devices attract and retain more workers. Mobile computers and tablets allow workers to access the necessary information, applications and even people they need to get their jobs done. This can help boost productivity while helping customers get the best service possible, leading to a positive engagement rate and level of job satisfaction.
“Moreover, access to the right information at the right time helps improve customer service and the overall work culture as it encourages greater collaboration, proactivity and reduces time lags. Utilising real-time task management solutions offers a holistic perspective of daily tasks and the roles assigned to specific team members. Such software can automatically prioritise all tasks for teams according to best practices, helping boost engagement and productivity across the board.”
Ella Zhang, Leadership specialist, author of Upgrade
“Creating a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement involves several vital aspects, such as:
- Lead by Example:
When Leaders exemplify the values, behaviours, and attitudes they want to see in their employees, when leaders demonstrate commitment, integrity, and a positive attitude, it encourages employees to follow.
- Autonomy and Ownership:
Provide employees with opportunities to make decisions and take ownership of their projects. Empower them to solve problems and contribute their unique insights.
- Crystal Clear Goals and Expectations:
Setting goals and expectations with clarity about what, when, who, why and how, helps employees understand their objectives and how their work contributes to the organization’s success, which provides direction and purpose, reducing confusion and frustration.
- Quality feedback:
Conduct regular check-ins to discuss progress, provide guidance, and provide real-time, specific, actionable feedback that helps employees improve. Bear in mind the ratio of 5:1 between positive and constructive feedback to maintain a healthy balance of the relationship. Creating a positive work culture is an ongoing effort that requires regular assessment of the effectiveness of these strategies and making necessary adjustments based on employee feedback and evolving organisational needs.”
Joy Adan, Senior Manager – Thought Leadership at Reward Gateway
“The world of work is changing significantly, and employees are reassessing what they want. To improve engagement and equip your workforce for business growth, reassess the foundations of your total reward strategy – fair compensation, benefits and a safe and flexible workspace remain critical but are often overlooked.
“Next, consider how you connect and support employees. Open and honest communication is the bedrock of any strong company culture, so setting up clear channels and expectations for this is vital. Rather than waiting for a performance review or employee survey to provide feedback, managers who prioritise regular (and positive!) communication, and recognise and reward their team members are more likely to maintain morale. Employees who are recognised by both managers and peers regularly are incentivised to stay engaged, and more likely to recognise others, creating ripple effects of positivity and productivity across organisations.
“Companies that openly communicate their mission and values, while recognising and rewarding talent according to these values, are on a fast-track to building high-performing teams and a culture that cultivates purpose and belonging, which enables teams to work autonomously and effectively. There’s no silver bullet, but continually reassessing how we connect, support and recognise our people is a must.”
Thomas Amos, CEO & Co-Founder of Sidekicker
“As workforces become more diverse and distributed, with a mix of full- and part-timers, casual and shift workers, ensuring a positive culture is even more important to create a sense of team cohesion.
“A positive work culture starts with a robust onboarding process. It makes new workers feel welcome and gives them a sense of belonging. Onboarding is also vital to get them up to speed quickly, reducing any extra burden on existing staff.
“Ensuring fairness and equity throughout the workplace is also crucial for creating a positive work environment. Treating all employees equally makes them feel valued and appreciated, boosting their engagement with work and commitment to the organisation.
“Investing in employees’ career development is mutually beneficial for the business and staff. They become more efficient and productive and will likely remain with you.
“The key to creating a positive work culture comes down to one simple principle: let your employees know that you care about them.”
Dr Pete Langford, General Manager at Xref Engage
“One of the most powerful ways to create a great work culture is to ask your people. Running regular Pulse or Employee Engagement Surveys is one method. Surveys help create and retain a positive work culture to boost employee engagement.
“Pulse surveys provide real-time check-ins. These are like a regular coffee-break chat that give you a quick high-level insight into what’s happening in your workplace. Understanding and addressing concerns quickly increases trust and ensures your organisation remains agile and productive.
“Then there are employee engagement surveys. These are like a deep-dive conversation you have once a year. Engagement surveys assess and benchmark a wider range of work practices and outcomes to understand the varied experiences and suggestions of your people.
“Be prepared to do two things following any kind of staff survey. First, openly acknowledge some of the positive experiences and suggestions for improvement communicated by staff. Second, act on some of the feedback you received.
“Implementing feedback can have a two-fold positive impact on work culture; the first being positive change and the second being increased employee engagement. Implementing feedback shows an interest in employee needs and shows you listen to your people, thus positively impacting work culture.”
Lauren Karan, Founder and Managing Director at Karan & Co
“Creating an engaging work culture involves merging role autonomy and competency strategically. Companies sometimes think that it’s team lunches and ping pong tables, but the heart of the matter runs deeper. The current surge in the popularity of flexible work arrangements addresses more than cost efficiency. It validates a fundamental employee need – the freedom to operate in their distinct way. This autonomy to achieve outcomes on their terms naturally elevates their engagement levels.
“While perks like gym memberships and recreational spaces have their merits, their impact doesn’t match the pivotal role of manager-employee relationships in shaping engagement. The key element is a manager who empowers their team and endorses their capacity to deliver in their own way. This dynamic establishes a connection between employees and the organisation, fostering meaningful engagement.
“When employee engagement seems lacklustre, evaluating leadership approaches and task delegation is critical. A considered leadership style that emphasises employee empowerment and acknowledges their contributions establishes a foundation for a work culture built on trust and commitment. Ultimately, a positive work culture emerges when employees perceive themselves as integral to the organisation’s mission, vision, and values. The fusion of autonomy and competence within their roles embodies the core of employee satisfaction and engagement.”
Rachel Drew, State Managing Partner at Holding Redlich
“Fostering employee engagement helps achieve high productivity. Highly engaged staff want to come to work, have a clear understanding of their roles and how their work contributes to the success of the organisation.
“Many factors contribute to creating a positive work culture. Celebrating both individual and team achievements creates a sense of accomplishment.
“It’s also important to work with employees to define clear career paths within the company. This helps employees visualise their growth and long-term prospects within the organisation. Employees should also be offered opportunities to take on challenging projects that stretch their skills and knowledge.
“Regular one-on-one meetings are an opportunity to discuss goals, progress, and challenges and demonstrate that the company is invested in each employee’s success.
“Finally, highly engaged employees know where their work sits within the larger purpose of the organisation. When employees participate in meaningful work and are able to see its impact, they are more likely to stay motivated and engaged.”
Scott Wiltshire, Vice President and GM, Oracle NetSuite ANZ
“Creating a positive work culture requires continuous commitment to keeping employees connected and engaged.
“Hybrid and remote work have reduced the level of informal, in-person communication in many companies, which can make employees feel less connected to their work and teams. This is particularly true for new employees who haven’t had the benefit of regular face-to-face interaction with their managers. In hybrid and remote work environments, managers need to place a high priority on regular one-on-one catch ups and create opportunities for informal chats before getting into the agenda of virtual meetings.
“The tight labour market has also left many workers picking up the slack in understaffed workplaces. This puts employees under immense pressure as they strive to keep up with mounting responsibilities. Using an integrated business system creates more opportunities to automate tedious repetitive processes and reduce the likelihood of errors. By automating mundane, low value processes, companies can take the pressure off employees and enable them to focus on parts of the job they enjoy.”
Estelle Parker, Executive Manager at Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA)
“Consumer attitudes, awareness and practices are changing when it comes to the ethical and responsible behaviour of companies and corporations worldwide. For example, our recent 2022 research shows that Australians are upping the pressure on the financial sector, including super funds, banks and investment managers, to do more on climate change and avoid contributing to issues such as animal cruelty and human rights abuses. This increased awareness regarding a business’s ethical responsibilities has also extended to workplaces. Australians now want to work and engage with companies with a high ESG score and care about how their money is invested. Four out of 5 Australians (83 percent) expect their bank account and their super to be invested responsibly and for over 80 percent of the population, this means that their investments deliver a positive impact to the world.
“Australians are increasingly concerned about social and not just environmental issues when investing, and expect employers who reflect these same ideologies. In turn, the big institutional investors are increasingly attuned to the impact on poor workplace culture on business success. We’ve seen this with the attention paid to revelations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying at some ASX-listed companies. Investors understand the moral duty of ensuring employees are treated decently, the reputational risks of poor workplace culture and associated impact on talent attraction, and also the economic costs of disengaged employees and absenteeism.
“Employee engagement requires strong governance and reporting of incidents; policies on diversity, workplace conduct and safety for employees who speak up; attention to employees’ physical wellbeing and mental health; and appropriate training and awareness across the board.”
Con Kittos, Executive Chairman at Asuria
“A positive work culture that boosts employee engagement is vital for organisationalsuccess. At Asuria, we clearly defined and reinforced our culture to build authentic and positive engagement.
“That meant encouraging open, honest, and respectful feedback that empowers staff to share innovative ideas and challenge the status quo fearlessly; creating a growth-focused mindset that aligns employees with the organisation’s purpose, motivating them to excel and contribute to success; being authentic and brave to foster trust and personal development through courageous conversations and adaptability to change; and inspiring and leading, rather than just managing, empowering employees to be part of a more inclusive and engaging environment.
“These are core tenets of Asuria’s ‘Enterprising Heart’, instilled in 2020 and now embraced at all levels of our large and disparate global workforce. Since adopting ‘Enterprising Heart’, we have seen employee engagement soar, and we now embed it in everything we do.
“By adopting their own version of these principles, organisations can cultivate a professional atmosphere where employees feel valued and motivated to make a difference, driven by a leadership that energises and excites teams, promoting freedom with responsibility. This way, ideas flow freely, and the organisation thrives, just as it did with Asuria.”
Caroline Henshaw, Head of People and Culture at Mantel Group
“Ensuring employees have as much control as possible over their work and life is critical to their engagement. This means taking steps to create an environment where employees are trusted. At Mantel Group, some of the steps we’ve taken to empower our employees include doing away with old fashioned performance reviews and ratings to focus on meaningful expectations and feedback. We let our people know what’s expected of them and give them the freedom to deliver.
“Australia is very well governed in terms of employment law so we know employees are protected. This has removed the need for policies and instead our business is led by a set of principles including ‘Make Good Choices’. Finding ways to reduce policies and allow people to make their own choices about what is best for them but also good for the business has a huge impact on engagement.
“Lastly, we’re always open to trialling new ideas. At mantel Group, we create pilot programs to allow us to assess new ideas for employee engagement and wellbeing. Successful examples include unlimited sick leave, a Mantel Group career coach and an EV program, subsidising electric vehicles for employees.”
Debra Shepherd, Marketing Communications Consultant, Coach and Podcast Host, Liquid Mango Consulting
“Open, honest, transparent and supportive communication is imperative for employee engagement. It builds connection, trust, relationships and loyalty.
“As business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders, it’s essential to meaningfully connect and communicate with your team on a regular basis. An internal Communications Strategy with clearly defined goals and objectives will support engagement because it will guide how a business connects and communicates with its employees.
“Listening is one of the most important things you can do.
- Make time to really listen and get to know your team.
- Acknowledge and support their work and contribution to the business.
- Ask for their ideas and seek feedback.
- Involve your team across the business, include them in decision-making processes.
“Business is about people, connections and relationships.”
Mollie Eckersley, Bright Operations Manager ANZ at BrightHR
“The current challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis, burnout, and the development of quiet quitting highlights the importance of having a positive work culture as it enhances the employee’s life both on a personal and professional level.
“When a business recognizes their employees as their most valuable asset and prioritizes their well-being; it sets itself up for success on all fronts.
“Creating a positive work culture does not need to be a difficult task. Simple acts, like fostering open and empathetic communication can drastically enhance employees’ ability to express their ideas.
“However, it’s crucial not to fall into the trap of short-term solutions such as random awareness days. Instead, meaningful engagement can be achieved through consistent perks and resources, making daily processes more streamlined to alleviate stress.
“Ultimately, a positive work culture generates a ripple effect, promoting engagement, well-being, and productivity that transcend office walls.”
Frederic Joye, Co-founder of Arcanys
“Cultivating a work culture where employees thrive is key to employee wellbeing, and we continually strive to ensure our culture of listening and openness fosters consistent collaboration and understanding.
“There are five ways to implement this:
- Setting Clear Expectations: We start with the basics, and this is to define what listening and openness mean to us. These aren’t abstract concepts but tangible practices that we integrate into our daily operations.
- Leading by Example: As leaders, we actively practice listening. We encourage open communication to understanding the perspectives of those around us.
- Open-Door Policy & Safe Spaces: Our open-door policy is a commitment to trust. We’ve work to create an environment where people’s feelings will be respected.
- Encouraging Feedback: We value feedback as a tool for growth, so we survey our employees often to seek input from them. It’s about engaging in meaningful dialogue.
- Promptly Addressing Issues: When conflicts or misunderstandings occur, we address them quickly and openly. Transparency and respect are key here, and we strive to handle these situations with care.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Recognizing and respecting cultural differences are essential to our team’s cohesion. We don’t just acknowledge these differences; we work to understand and embrace them.”
Siva Subramaniam, Management Consultant & Director Business Development at Nearsol
“Whether you are dealing with customer or employees, you are dealing with Human Beings. Not any of us are the same and we all have different personalities and different wants and dislikes. Many organizations assume what the employees and customers wants and implement policies, processes and technology which ends up with a mismatch of expectations.
“It is therefore important we understand the wants and likes of people and customers and adapt to their needs or expectations. We cannot please everyone and so majority rules. Best way to do this is have regular Focus Group Meetings with both Employees and Customers and look at the majority expectations and adapt to those needs. Address the other wants as well in a smaller way or atleast acknowledge you have heard their views and will work on them. Key to this success is how fast you respond to the feedback from the Employee and Customers as it adds credibility.
“The reason for involving customers is for employees to understand the customer expectations and not get frustrated when dealing with them. Angry customers can dampen the enthusiasm of the employees.
“The old saying of Raving Fans book by Ken Blanchard. ‘Ask what the customer wants and deliver plus one’.”
Ben Lucas, Director and Co-Founder of Flow Athletic
“Our business thrives on postivie work culture and community. As my business, Flow Athletic is customer facing, every one of my staff members is an ambassador of the brand, and therefore the culture and them respecting and enjoying their job is important.
“While skill is important, I often hire based on attitude as I want to ensure that the new hire will gel well with the team. We have meetings every few months where everyone in the team is welcome to workshop ideas and get involved in the bigger picture activities we are working on if they wish. I do workshops and training with my staff, we do goal setting which each team member and always check in. We are very fortunate to have team members who have been with since the start.
“Respect, up skilling, listening to peoples ideas and having an open door policy where people can come to you with ideas and concerns has been key for us.”
Cherie Mylordis, Founder and Work Futurist at nextgenify
“My recent global research of nearly 200 leaders uncovered a number of common factors for building a positive work culture that boosts employee engagement. Participants agreed that having a clarity of purpose around your business, so that people show-up motivated to do meaningful work that matters to them and to the business. When you have clarity of purpose, you can really connect people to this purpose, which leads to better engagement.
“Once people are clear on their purpose at work, having leadership and work culture that empowers people to work with autonomy will lay the foundation for people to do their best work, using contemporary ways of working.
“People want to feel trusted, valued and supported at work, rather than micromanaged. When trust is there, people are more engaged.
“The work environment also matters. In a post-pandemic world, it’s about giving people the flexibility to work at their best, creating physical spaces where they can do their best work (whether at home or in the office), and creating opportunities for intentional connection, so that the time teams spend together is valuable.”
Damien Miller, Client Partnerships & Culture Director APAC at Mash
“For Mash, the key to creating a positive work culture is empowering people to work independently and our decentralised model builds flexibility into the very fabric of our business.
“Listening to and understanding your employees is crucial to the culture you want to create. As a creative technology platform, we understand that we need to nourish creatives with variety and the opportunity to work on the things that interest them. Our remote work set up means that a Singapore “Masher” could be working on three global projects and learning from others that they would have never previously encountered in their patch of the world.
“Connection is as important as flexibility as it energises and inspires creatives too. From the moment of onboarding a Masher, we encourage them to connect with others within their region, attend Masher meetups and seek out our experienced creative advisors for guidance when starting new projects.
“In an era where employee retention is critical, the key differentiator for an outstanding work culture lies in mastering the core aspects of adaptability and interpersonal relationships.”
Melissa Hyland, Human Resources Manager at ipSCAPE
“At ipSCAPE, we develop Cloud Contact Centre Technology that focuses on improving Customer Experience. We know that in order to achieve this, it starts with great employee experience based on a culture of innovation, continuous development and inclusion. Some of the initiatives we have implemented at ipSCAPE include:
- Employee Development and Growth programs Through investments in a Learning Management System (LMS) and comprehensive training programs, we empower our workforce to adapt to technological shifts. These efforts not only enhance skills but also open pathways for career progression.
- Prioritising Employee Wellbeing & Worklife Balance Our Flexible Work Policy allows employees to balance personal and professional commitments. Similarly, our comprehensive wellness program encompasses physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing with lunchtime fitness classes, immunisation programs, and a confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Our Social Club organises social events that foster camaraderie while also conducting activities that raise money for causes that matter to our team.
- Cultivating formal opportunities for innovation A prime example is our annual Hackathon event. This year’s theme centred around Artificial Intelligence, where cross-functional teams collaboratively devised innovative solutions and prototypes for our cloud contact centre offering. This event builds team collaboration, stimulates innovative and creative thinking and is a fun competitive, social event.”
Hacia Atherton, CEO & Founding Director of Empowered Women In Trades
“In today’s dynamic work environment, fostering a positive work culture is paramount for boosting employee engagement, wellbeing and overall productivity. By integrating positive psychology principles from the PERMA framework, organisations can create an atmosphere where employees feel valued, motivated, and connected. PERMA, a model from positive psychology, encapsulates the five pillars of wellbeing—Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement—and serves as a foundation for cultivating positive work cultures that foster employee satisfaction and productivity. Here are some actionable steps to implement PERMA in your organisation:
- Positive Emotions
- Foster a work environment that encourages positivity, celebration of small wins, and recognition.
- Implement regular team-building activities to build camaraderie and boost morale.
- Provide opportunities for employees to work on projects they’re passionate about.
- Offer continuous learning and development opportunities.
- Promote open communication and feedback.
- Encourage mentorship and peer support programs.
- Align individual roles with the company’s mission and vision.
- Regularly communicate the bigger picture and how each role contributes.
- Set clear goals and celebrate milestones.
- Provide opportunities for career advancement.
“Organisations can create a thriving work culture that boosts employee engagement and promotes overall well-being and job satisfaction by focusing on these key areas.”
Scott Treatt, CTA, General Manager, Tax Policy and Advocacy at The Tax Institute
“A great way to boost employee engagement, especially in technical fields such as tax, is to invest in your team’s development.
“For many employees, growth, recognition and upward movement in their career are really important – we all like to know that we’re evolving and improving over time. I have always found that teams are more engaged when they feel their work is contributing to their own personal goals, and by demonstrating your support for that, you’ll foster a positive workplace culture.
“There are many ways to support employee development – sponsor them for further education, encourage them to nominate for industry awards or allocate budget for attendance at professional development events. Our biggest event of the year, The Tax Summit, is coming up in September, and many of the leading employers in tax are sending their teams along. This is not only a chance to boost team members’ technical skills and network, but to recognise and reward their hard work so far and keep them engaged with the goals of the organisation at the same time.
“When your organisation is invested in people’s success, they are, in turn, far more likely to be invested in the success of the company.”
Sue Karzis, CEO of State Schools’ Relief
“Articulating the values that we wish to see as leaders is critical – but it is even more important to ensure that we are embodying those values. Treating your employees with kindness and empathy goes a long way towards creating a culture of kindness. When your staff feel that they are cared for, they will often go above and beyond, and the workplace is seen with positivity.
“Whilst culture often starts with leadership, every person must contribute and reflect the desired behaviours and values. Ensuring that these values are discussed often, and even included in documents, reminds everyone of their importance. Positive feedback and the sharing of stories also serves as a reminder of why we do the work that we do. You can’t be what you can’t see so if we want a kind workplace, we must ensure that that is the experience that our employees have at every turn.”
Vanessa Gavan, Founder and Joint Managing Director at Maximus International
“All organisations must embrace how to create a well-functioning workforce with a positive work culture. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, these three things matter:
- Bring back the joy of connection — Leaders should be advocating around ensuring we include moments of absolute joy in our new ways of working. This includes how we use our physical environment to foster a sense of inclusion.
- Bring back the sense of challenge and ‘stretch’ — It’s so important to move beyond ‘playing it safe’ towards striving to achieve incredible things as a team again. This builds purpose and fulfillment.
- Change up the conversation — Where you choose to work should never be about ease and efficiency, but rather leadership and intent. It’s all about who ‘where you are’ matters to and how your choices affect your team.
“People want an emotional connection to their work and their workplaces now more than ever — and it is generational. Millennials and Gen Z want to work for companies that align to their values first and foremost. They want flexible work but many of us also want to connect and collaborate.”
Guy Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer at Banjo Loans
“Culture, for me, trumps strategy any day of the week. That’s because you can have the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have a positive work culture, it counts for nothing.
“Personality profiling is a positive activity — both for new and existing team members. We do this so we can understand the people we work with better. If they are under stress, we can see the warning signs early and work with them.
“Once you have an agreed business plan, a good buy-in step is to ask your team to create a purpose statement that they take ownership of and that guides their behaviour and performance.
“We also hold weekly whole of business meetings. Team members from each part of the business can share what they are doing and show appreciation for workmates through shout-outs.
“It’s important for the team to celebrate wins, big or small, because it reinforces that positive work culture of everyone working towards a common goal.
“Lastly, having ‘culture champions’ in the team is another driver in establishing the right positive environment, including social outings. There’s nothing better than getting the team offsite for an afternoon where they bond in a positive way.”
Adam Pay, Managing Director, mycar
“An organisation that puts people first is imperative to positive employee engagement. Being people first is not just about customers, it’s about ensuring your business is a place where your people can shine. Strong values, which are lived throughout the business, set the tone for the culture, providing an example of ‘how we do things around here’.
“Equally, strong employee engagement requires acknowledgement of the passion, skill, knowledge and diversity of the individuals in your team which ultimately make your business unique.
“At mycar, while we take our work seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously. We encourage our team to bring their whole self to work – their passion, personality, drive and quirkiness – just like the people we serve every day. Our team sets the course and determines the speed of their own career path. Whether that’s developing new skills, taking on a new challenge, moving up to a new role or to a new part of the country, we help make it possible. We also love to recognise, reward and retain our team through mycar&me – our reward and recognition program.
“It is a combination of all these aspects which creates a positive work culture that ultimately boosts employee engagement.”
Danielle Owen Whitford, Founder and CEO of Pioneera
“Leaders play a crucial role in workplace wellbeing. They are the conduits between your organisation and your greatest asset – your people. And good leaders can be made! Leadership skills can be taken to another level with timely insights and support:
- Clarifying Purpose: Help leaders develop a clear vision for their team, showcasing how each member’s role contributes to achieving that vision. Understanding the value of their work cultivates a sense of purpose for all employees.
- Prioritising Well-being: Coach your leaders on how to create psychosocial safety and encourage growth mindsets within their team. There is a strong link between improved wellbeing and improved engagement and productivity.
- Using Data: Track team achievements and use technology tools like Pioneera’s Coach Indie to monitor well-being in real time. Data-driven insights help your leaders make better decisions.
- Leading by Example: Encourage leaders to prioritise self-care and demonstrate appropriate behaviours. Their actions set the tone for the entire workplace.
“New hybrid ways of working, the pressure to retain talent and to do more with less means the role of manager has never been more complex or more critical. Use these tips to lift your leaders and deliver improved well being, productivity and talent retention.”
Linda Karkafi, Managing Director at Commcentric
“It’s interesting when we look around, the lengths corporate organisations will go to when attempting to ‘boost’ employee engagement. So, I can’t help but bring up the controversial example the ANZ employed recently, when it introduced the right for staff members to ‘disconnect’ from their workplace.
“Hats off to the leadership team for taking a leap of faith, acknowledging and trying to ‘fix’ work-life balance issues. Yet this agreement simply can’t be successful on its own.
“For employers to truly engage their workforce they also need to pay close attention to building the right culture – ‘the way things are done around here’. Policies and agreements alone will not shift a workplace culture that’s characterised by a poor work-life balance. Deeper work is required, and all the key influences of culture need to be considered, including how leaders make decisions, how the workplace is structured and how meetings are run.
“Senior leaders need to be willing to get to the root of the current issues employees are facing and invest resources to find workable solutions.
“If you can successfully reduce poor leadership behaviours, you’ll increase opportunities for genuine engagement with your team as a result.”
Anissa Cavallo, Founder of Eda Property
“Creating a positive work culture that enhances employee engagement hinges on embracing the DIC analogy: Diversity, Inspiration, and Community. Firstly, fostering Diversity by celebrating employees’ unique backgrounds, skills, and perspectives enriches the workplace tapestry. This inclusivity empowers teams to approach challenges from varied angles, promoting creativity and mutual understanding.
“Secondly, a culture of Inspiration thrives when leaders provide a clear vision, encourage innovation, and recognize achievements. Employees who see their contributions aligning with larger goals are more engaged and motivated to excel. Lastly, building a strong sense of Community nurtures collaboration and camaraderie. Team-building activities, open communication channels, and supportive leadership create an environment where individuals feel valued and connected.
“Incorporating Diversity, Inspiration, and Community into the workplace DNA results in a culture that not only attracts top talent but also retains and empowers them. A positive work culture amplifies engagement, productivity, and overall job satisfaction, cultivating a thriving and harmonious professional environment.”
Celia Wallace, Partner at Today the Brave
“First and most importantly, it’s all about our people. Without them, we aren’t anything.
“We assemble the best group of people, building the right culture around them in which to thrive.
“This has been clear from the outset and remains true as we continue to scale at pace. Skills and knowledge can be taught, but culture and values are innate. If you can get this right from the beginning, it’s a winning formula.
“Secondly, it’s about building a supportive community. Organisations who commit to creating an engaged workforce will ultimately get the best out of their people, creating an engaged workforce that provides much more than just financial remuneration. It’s about having a genuinely supportive community, with open communication and authentic relationships.
“While there will always be a need for structure, policies and ongoing development, these two elements are the foundations of a meaningful culture.
“It’s in our DNA to build a supportive community, because when you have a community, that’s where people do the best work of their lives.”
Brian Hack, Managing Director at EES Shipping
“Businesses should look to introduce initiatives that make employees feel valued, appreciated, and supported, which then creates a more positive workplace culture, and boosts employee engagement.
“Earlier this year we introduced a four-day work week for no loss in pay, with eligible staff also not required to work longer hours on other days, as a way of showing our employees that work isn’t the be-all and end-all, nor should it be.
“A better work-life balance makes for happier, more productive staff, with the team reporting an improvement in communication and morale. Coupled with a dedicated staff-recreation space, fitted out with exercise equipment, gaming consoles, boardgames and the like, we want our employees to know we genuinely care about their wellbeing, and they’re an important part of the team.”
Joe Hart, Organisational Psychologist and Executive Coach
“My three top tips to help create a positive work culture:
- When interviewing new recruits stop with the hard sell. It stinks of desperation and sets up impossible expectations when they start work and see the ‘real’ culture. Be honest about your workplace and the future…warts and all. People appreciate honesty, and it encourages loyalty.
- Stop promoting the wrong people in your business. It’s called the ‘Peter Principle’ and it’s happening because companies have shaped an expectation that managers get paid more, so people want to become managers. As an example; you promote your best sales person into a management role, but they hate being a manager and also you’ve lost your best sales person. What’s worse, everyone that person manages is now disengaged because their manager is incompetent.
- I’ll never get tired of saying this….stop talking about each other and start talking to each other. You often have to work with people you wouldn’t necessarily choose in your personal life, so be brave and have that ‘chat’ with your colleague. Get it off your chest but for the love of all things good, don’t bitch about them to somebody else. It’s the very definition of toxicity.”
Kelly Michael, CEO and Co-Founder of Map of Me
“To enhance employee engagement and create a thriving workplace culture, organisations have to first focus on getting the basics right. This starts with assessing the psycho-social hazards in the workplace and making necessary changes. It’s then critical that organisations attain a deeper understanding of an individual’s personal values and strengths to understand how people are able to show up in the workplace and specifically their role, and how they connect with the organisation’s overarching vision. Understanding personal values also creates a greater understanding of team dynamics and strengthens teams abilities to perform, innovate, navigate conflict and change management.
“When organisations can create meaningful workplaces employees become co-creators of success, creating a healthy high performance culture that truly values people. This is validated in the findings of Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace Report, which suggests it takes an increase of 31 percent in remuneration for engaged employees to consider leaving their employer — confirming that how you treat people and the culture you create matters.”
Mike Halligan, CEO and Co-Founder of Scratch Dog Food
“Productive, engaged teams come down to four things: transparency, communication, the right people in the right places and culture.
“If you’re not sure if your people are right, or if your culture is conducive to high performance it’s important to communicate with transparency.
“You need to recognise what sort of people you’ve got within your organisation, as well as what type of people you want. High-performing teams that seem to retain their best staff have a low-ego culture. They have teams championing the result, not fussing about who or how it’s done. They see the collectives win as their win.
“They feel supported and trusted to take on problems, but are given clear expectations or guidance when they’re heading in the wrong direction. Together they combine to give people a sense of responsibility and opportunity.”
Craig Johns, CEO & Managing Partner at Speakers Corporate Institute
“Employee engagement starts with people, people are our greatest priority. Focus on people first before the physical environment or external engagement strategies.
“Create an eco-system not an ego-system. Develop people’s self-worth, and the collective worth of the team. Developing only collective worth leads to low self-confidence, belief and importance. Developing only self-worth risks people becoming self-centred, egotistical and competing versus collaborating.
“Understand employees individually and collectively by focusing on what is right with people, rather than what is wrong with people. What are people’s strengths and how do all employees’ strengths complement each other?
“Inspire a culture of nurturing rising talent where people feel safe and the permission to provide both positive reinforcement and sharing areas of improvement with each other on a daily basis.
“Create a culture where it is encouraged, accepted and expected that people speak up when they feel uncomfortable, unsure or want to share a different perspective. Have courageous conversations not confrontations.
“Ensure employees have the confidence and belief that no matter what, they will be ok and the company always has their back. With this foundation of trust and respect, people experience joy, feel valued for their contribution and find fulfilment in working together.”
Allana Frisken, CEO, Muse Pilates
“When it comes to workplace vibes, just adding a pizza party and a ping pong table won’t magically cook up a cool culture. Companies have often patched up morale with quick fixes, like slapping on a band-aid. Muse, however, went digging deeper and struck gold with a game-changer: radical empowerment.
“Picture an office where the corporate ladder shrinks and decision-making power grows. Once entangled in bureaucratic webs, projects now flow seamlessly, cranking up productivity. Corporate culture isn’t about perks, it’s about firing up your team.
“Armed with a real grip on our business’s heartbeat and goals, our crew has turned into action heroes, doing 50% more with 50% fewer hands. And what’s the glue? A shared sense of mission, sparking achievements and teamwork.
“Remember, real workplace camaraderie isn’t summoned by gimmicks. It thrives on giving employees power and a common purpose. Muse’s message is clear: toss the frills and embrace empowerment.”
Amy Benson, CEO of Diolog
“The world of startups has long been synonymous with hustle culture, but as a cohort we’re coming to realise that working incredibly long hours doesn’t necessarily translate to achieving incredible results. At Diolog, we believe balance is critical to delivering value to our customers. An energised workforce is an engaged workforce, and one which will enable your business to achieve the best results faster and more effectively.
“Another way we actively build engagement is through encouraging teamwork and collaboration. We pride ourselves on a flat structure, and have built a culture of feedback within the organisation. This means junior members of the team are given ample opportunity to contribute to the direction of the business, and more senior members can learn from their insights. This encourages growth, and in-turn keeps the team motivated at all levels.
“Teams also require structured personal development programs to feel truly engaged in their day-to-day. This is something we hold ourselves accountable to no matter how busy it gets, because our team’s growth and wellbeing is a core business priority. From establishing mentoring partnerships to funding external courses, it’s a no-brainer for us. Ultimately the more your team upskills and gains confidence, the more your business will thrive as a result.”
Angus Hannan, Business Manager at Paddock Offices
“With many Australian workers now hybrid, one of the most important ways a business leader can boost staff engagement is through collaboration and networking.
“Working solo is fine for putting your head down and really getting through a task. But if a business wants to innovate and come up with new ideas to surprise and delight its customers, then there’s nothing more effective than getting people together in the same room.
“For a business with remote or hybrid workers, a co-working space provides the perfect venue to bring a team together for some brainstorming. It also helps create human connections, and with some studies pointing to the fact remote and hybrid workers feel isolated, creating human connection is more important than ever.
“Bringing people together to network also has positive benefits for the corporate culture, with research showing business leaders find it hard to establish culture when people are not a traditional office. A co-working space with a meeting and events area allows an organisation and its workers to have the best of both worlds – the home office for deep work, and a shared space for networking and collaboration.”
Shane Maher, Managing Director at Intelliworx
“Creating a positive work culture that enhances employee engagement involves establishing a comprehensive online environment, emphasising flexibility, collaboration, and communication. This approach needs to embrace where the employee is, how they work and how they would like to work with all the tools at their disposal.
- Step 1: Optimise workspace. Microsoft Places promotes adaptable environments, utilising physical workplaces with seamless Outlook and Teams integration for hybrid scheduling, and responsive technology for wayfinding and serendipitous meet-ups.
- Step 2: Maximise Microsoft 365 benefits. Utilise Microsoft Teams’ Group features, fostering collaboration through file sharing and tools like virtual whiteboards and meeting recaps to ensure employees stay engaged regardless of their environment.
- Step 3: Adopt Teams Premium. For advanced collaboration, upgrade to Teams Premium. It offers advanced analytics, custom branding, robust meeting protection, advanced webinars, AI-generated tasks, and intelligent live translation, further enhancing engagement.
- Step 4: Elevate C-suite cybersecurity responsibility. Reduce employee burden by having company leadership actively manage cyber risks. While impacting cybersecurity expenditure, this approach fosters happier, engaged employees.
“By following these steps, organisations can cultivate a work culture that promotes engagement, leveraging innovative technologies, cybersecurity awareness, and C-suite accountability.”
Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers
“Employee engagement has never been more important. In an environment where attracting and retaining talent is tough and the costs of employing new people are high, employers can’t afford to be complacent. Creating a positive and engaged workplace culture is a must.
“So, what does it take to create a positive work culture? There are the typical components such as remuneration, leave entitlements, flexibility, entitlements, wellbeing initiatives, and rewards and recognition. There’s also the less tangible elements like how people treat each other, whether new ideas are encouraged, and whether it’s safe to question things or make a mistake.
“The key to getting culture right is to document every component in your policies, procedures or employment contracts and enact them accordingly. This includes both the tangible as well as the intangible aspects which make up your company culture.
“For example, how employees should treat each other can be guided by company values. When these values are documented, explained, shared widely and reinforced continually, your employees will understand and adopt the expected standards for how they should treat colleagues. In this way, you can embed a positive culture which drives employee engagement.”
Rolf Kater, CEO at Coghlan Fulfilment
“I’d have said we’ve always had a positive work culture. We’ve many team members that have been with us decades, which is unusual in logistics. But, whilst we’ve always had communal eating areas in our warehouses, we had always scheduled everyone to take lunch at staggered times to ensure order processing continued.
“When we were setting up our second Sydney warehouse 18 months ago though, we noticed our team started eating together at the same time. I joined in too. Although we already have a flat management structure, this flattened it further.
“The sense of camaraderie across the whole team was heightened from the simple act of eating together. Better still, after set-up was complete, it continued and we saw an immediate and ongoing pick-up in processing times too. Even better than that, for me as CEO, really listening to the lunch chat lets me know how the overall team is fairing and what’s going on for them but in a non-formal way that allows people to open up more and suggest ideas. So we’re integrating it across all of our other warehouses; it’s been a terrific addition to our working culture.”
Taylor McPhail, Co-Owner of McPhails Furniture
“We like to hire people who are both suited to the role, but who have also come recommended from others who are great employees. We make sure we reward employees for great work, we try to curate a social culture. We also recently built a bar into our new office, so hopefully that will be a positive addition to the business, and a place for employees to hang out on a Friday afternoon.”