The value of an aligned and nurturing workplace culture is the bedrock upon which successful businesses thrive. A team that is highly engaged, shares ownership of the challenges and the successes, and is included in the rewards and celebration, will nearly always outperform others.

Companies that focus simply on the task at hand eventually underperform because a lack of culture obscures the purpose of their collective effort.

Many leaders realize that building a great culture takes time and attention, yet the priority of culture work continues to fall behind that of other, seemingly more immediate needs. What leaders must know is that without intention and leadership, a culture that is misaligned to the purpose of the company may well take hold.

Modifying an unhealthy culture is far more taxing than maintaining one that is well-aligned. Hoping for a great culture will not net leaders good results. Instead, you must take action.

The Impact of the Breakroom

Workplace culture that is allowed to evolve without intention invites something or someone to step in, fill the void, and provide the basis for interaction among team members and leadership.

The so-called “breakroom culture” is one that is derived during idle periods where gossip, conjecture, and speculation shape team members’ attitudes toward the company. When it’s allowed to develop without intervention and redirection, such a culture begins a descent toward mediocre work on all levels.

The idea that culture will simply take care of itself is a failed notion. By leaving the workplace culture to chance, a leader ensures that the trust, willingness, and commitment needed to exceed past performance will be replaced with rationalization, procrastination, and an unwillingness to share in the ownership of desired outcomes.

Such a culture will have significant costs in the form of lost productivity, turnover of trained team members, and lack of trust between co-workers.

The Eventual Benefits Far Exceed the investment of Time

We’ve established two things so far. First, a workplace culture will develop and evolve in one way or another. Second, a positive and supportive workplace culture results in myriad positive outcomes. With that in mind, the choice for company leadership seems very straightforward.

But achieving the long-term benefits of a stellar culture takes planning and diligence. It also requires investing time to institute it, grow it, and sustain it. Such a culture will demonstrate benefits that extend beyond the obvious of collegiality, trust, productivity, and support.

A positive workplace culture will be the strongest team member retention program that a company can institute. This culture will allow the work of the team members to come from a place of shared ownership in the outcome, not from a place of compliance with leadership expectations. Leaders can begin to rely on the input and participation of the team in all aspects of the formative processes and the deliverable outcomes.

Foundational to effective leadership is the understanding that “being part of a great team” is a fundamental desire on the part of most team members. Belonging and being affiliated with a successful organization carries with it far more than just the salary and benefits of a job. A positive workplace culture that is properly created, grown, and nurtured will provide a platform from which future success can be launched.