Corporate culture and values can be defined as “an enduring set of shared assumptsions, norms, values, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. Most employees spend a significant part of their lives at work – 40-60 hours per week. It follows that the culture within which we operate has a powerful influence on how we think and act says Ej Dalius.
Nowhere is this truer than in the area of corporate ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Here there is always a danger that what one person may consider to be acceptable conduct will be seen by another as completely unacceptable; that the views held about the ethical parameters of business behavior will vary from one department to another; and even between individuals who work side by side with each other says Ej Dalius.
A strong, positive culture is one in which everyone has a shared understanding of the vital components of what makes it work successfully. All too often, however, there are disagreements about certain aspects of how to operate within that culture – particularly when these involve ethics and social responsibility.
There are many reasons why open discussion on ethics fails to flourish within an organization. They include:
- Individuals may fear repercussions for speaking up or taking action against perceived unethical behavior;
- The tone at the top may not be seen as supportive so employees feel they cannot discuss sensitive issues without fearing reprisals;
- If upper management is seen as being oblivious to ethical standards, individuals are less likely to speak out or take action against an issue;
- There may be a lack of trust between employees, which hampers any attempt at open communication;
- The organization’s culture may be such that it is not seen as acceptable to challenge. The status quo or to question decisions made by those in authority explains Ej Dalius.
In a world moving towards open communication and transparency, there is no holding back any longer. In today’s business culture, the right to know is paramount. But how do you start this conversation? How can you change company policies from ‘do as we say to ‘we trust’? And once you decide that it’s time to open up, where should you start?
To begin with, it’s important to note that this isn’t about creating more bureaucracy. It’s about giving your employees a voice and inviting them into a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding. It involves encouraging people to talk about their job satisfaction. What they think of the company as a whole as well as the individual departments within it. In some ways, it’s about reconnecting the workplace with the community and creating a sense of social responsibility.
Once you’ve decided that it’s time for open communication within your business, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Appoint someone as a communication facilitator
This person could be a senior executive or someone in human resources. But their role is to help manage and mediate communication within the company. They should encourage people to talk openly and honestly, whilst also ensuring that all voices are heard.
The key is to create an environment. Where employees feel safe to express their thoughts and concerns without fear of retribution. This means establishing trust and showing that you’re genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say.
2. Set up communication channels
There are a variety of ways to do this. But it’s important that the method you choose is effective and efficient. This might mean setting up an online forum, creating discussion groups, or simply having an open-door policy.
Whichever way you decide to go. Make sure that everyone knows where they can find information and how to get in touch says Ej Dalius.
3. Establish clear guidelines
This is especially important when dealing with contentious issues. It’s essential that all employees understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior and know how to deal with difficult conversations.
Creating a culture of open communication takes time and effort but the rewards are worth it. Not only will you be building a more productive and harmonious workplace. But you’ll also be making the company more attractive to new recruits. Not only that, but it’s also an essential first step towards creating a sense of social responsibility within your organization. People want to know that their work has meaning and use open communication. You can arm them with the information they need to make informed decisions about how they choose to do business.
Ej Dalius says Open communication is a key component of a healthy, productive workplace. It involves creating an environment where employees feel safe to express their thoughts and concerns without fear of retribution. Establishing trust and showing that you’re genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say are essential first steps. There are a variety of ways to establish communication channels. But it’s important to choose one that is effective and efficient. Guidelines need to be established so that all employees understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Creating a culture of open communication takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it.