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World Mental Health Day 2020: Why company culture is critical

A far cry from the historic industry-standard first question of “What is the salary?”, nowadays the first question from our candidates is far more likely to be “What is the company culture like?”.

A more enlightened talent-pool, much of it brought up with the internet since childhood has realised that short term financial gain isn’t worth the trade off if it comes with a negative, debilitating atmosphere.

And when people are more productive, happier and enjoy their work more, they tend to suffer from fewer absences, and less stress and wellbeing related issues. With Mental Health Day tomorrow (10 October 2020), it might be time to evaluate your company’s culture.

To start, what exactly is “company culture”?

It is the way that companies operate, the way people speak to one another, and the day to day norm of how businesses operate. Company culture often looks to reflect what many candidates are yearning for: an elusive “work-life balance”.

Strong company culture offers a huge competitive advantage. Companies with a positive culture are more likely to attract and retain talent for longer, and have the added benefit of a higher job satisfaction among employees.

Employees are more likely to come together as a team, especially during difficult times, if they have a perceived strong working culture. Positive culture can actually enable better social interaction between employees and employers, and lead to increased productivity and innovation.

It can also make it easier for employers and employees to open up and discuss sometimes difficult topics such as a work life balance, mental wellbeing and general health before the point it negatively impacts both parties.

Around one in three people in Scotland suffer from mental illnesses, meaning the majority of your employees and prospective employees will have either experienced mental illnesses or personally know someone who has. Fostering a positive workplace culture can lead to happier, more comfortable employees and open conversations on these topics.

A poor workplace culture can impact on employee’s health and wellbeing. Reports published by Deloitte earlier this year estimated poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year, a rise of 16% since 2016.

A culture based on valuing employees and their health and wellbeing instils loyalty and a strong working ethic, which are the cornerstones to competitive advantages.

In 2020, especially during this global pandemic, companies that take a narrow view of incentive schemes being the only element of employee retention, without considering employee wellbeing, may find themselves hemorrhaging employees.

Culture and personal benefits, including remote and flexible working, diversity, health and wellbeing benefits, maternity and paternity leave, sponsorship of professional and educational qualifications, a supportive environment, and even environmental policies are all important considerations for jobhunters.

As a hirer you simply must now be prepared to, at the very least, consider all of these as part of a package, to bring out the best in your team and its individuals.

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