Culture, Talent Management

A Positive Work Climate: It’s the Real Key to Organizational Success

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As organizational structures become more complex and expand globally, the need to establish a positive climate is increasingly critical to employee satisfaction and productivity levels. Employees in large organizations today often work on multiple teams and report to a variety of managers that likely span across several countries and departments.

Research has pointed to rising employee frustrations with their organizational climate over the past few years. Employee frustration can often stem from a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities or concerns about departmental inter-connectedness. Consider these facts:

  • Nearly one-quarter of respondents from Hay Group employee surveys indicate that teamwork between departments in their organizations is inadequate.
  • Nearly one-third of employees indicate that their managers do not effectively communicate the goals and objectives for their teams.
  • More than 40 percent report that they do not receive clear and regular feedback from their managers on how well they do their work.
  • Fully 30 percent of employees indicate that they do not have enough authority to carry out their jobs effectively.

To address these daunting concerns, HR must do a better job of arming line managers – those who truly set the climate – with tools and processes that help them flag problems and better understand their role in eliminating frustrations that lead to turnover and a drain in productivity.

How can organizations do this?

There are six dimensions to determining whether your organizational climate is set up for success with keeping employees motivated and engaged:

  1. Clarity — employees know what is expected of them.
  2. Standards — goals are challenging yet attainable.
  3. Responsibility — employees are given authority to accomplish tasks.
  4. Flexibility — there are no unnecessary rules, policies and procedures.
  5. Rewards — employees are recognized and rewarded for good performance.
  6. Team commitment -- people are proud to belong to the organization.

To successfully implement these dimensions, HR must take on the role of a “strategic climate partner,” helping line managers create positive environments to retain employees. To do this, HR must help line managers understand three important points:

  • The correlation between a negative or inconsistent climate and employees’ abilities to do their jobs effectively.
  • Red flags or concerning changes in employees’ behaviors or attitudes that can negatively affect the climate.
  • Controllable factors that can alter the environment.

More necessary for organizational success

It will take practice and ongoing feedback in order to institute changes in management style, especially in times of high stress where it is easy to revert back to old behaviors. However, effective HR managers will stay involved and invested until line managers understand their role, recognize negative behaviors, and implement the correct processes for positive change.

We’ve found that organizations that ingrain these practices will significantly increase employee motivation and productivity, retain top employees and improve bottom-line performance by up to 30 percent. As the war for talent continues across industries and organizations, a positive climate will become ever-more important for organizational success.

What tools do you use to establish a positive climate? How can organizations standardize other processes?

Jeff Blair is the cluster leader for the Hay Group’s U.S. productized services business. Jeff, who is based in Philadelphia, leads the team responsible for selling, implementing, and managing the suite of products that integrate Hay Group’s industry-leading intellectual property into each stage of the employee life cycle. Contact him at Jeffrey.Blair@haygroup.com.
  • Jennie

    This is so true – it seems like such a simple concept but it’s easily disregarded.  Great article and reminder for managers and companies!

  • Dheil

    These are wonderful observations that are so simple it is amazing they are not being utilized and built upon in all organizational levels. If the hiring process is adequate then most employees will do a competent job if they know what is expected of them and assured of recognition for a job well done. However, managers and leaders will shape the culture those employees must work in and that is often where culture begins to become tainted with a slew of negative factors that trash productivity.