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‘Open-Heart’ Workplace Culture for an Amazing Workplace

Shikha Verma

Shikha Verma

Author of this blog, Shikha Verma is a dynamic & versatile leader who has acted as a Culture Custodian -OD n Learning n Development role, been a People Architect as a Happiness & Mindfulness Coach with 100 plus Mentoring /Coaching hours on one hand & System engineer on the other being a certified ISO Practitioner.


Culture is not just an embodiment of values or philosophy; it needs to be translated into a vibe within the organization and transpire at the granular level in the way employees do their work & what they prioritize. Businesses that focus only on profits or revenue consistently are fading off with higher attrition & lower revenue as compared to organizations that focus on building their culture.


Post-Covid Phase 2, while companies are gearing up for a gradual return to ‘work from office’ most conventional practices are being challenged. Companies are compelled to invest more in employee engagement & culture building to improve the focus level of employees & instill a sense of ownership. A workplace culture builds interconnectedness amongst the employees who run any business just like muscles bind the body together and allow movement. As per a recent BCG report, the Gig economy has the potential to serve up to 90 million jobs (add up to 1.25% to India’s GDP in the long run and create millions of new jobs across all sectors too. Having appropriate WFH policies and HR practices will not suffice in making this drastic transition sustainable, amplifying the need to develop the right mindset, leadership & evolved culture. Becoming a purpose and belonging-driven organization is the no. 1 workplace happiness influencer as per a global study.


Open Heart Culture means a workplace that welcomes all, has tolerance towards mistakes, accepts differences & a variety of ideas, empowers and enables all talent, and most importantly respects and values every single individual. An organization that aims for agility, needs to mandatorily lay a foundation of an open-heart culture and foster growth mind leaders. The open-hearted culture is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. As each day unfolds, we strive to create an environment where the most amazing people thrive. Above all, relationships are what ignites our passion for helping others succeed. This means we must be extremely supportive of one another and should celebrate success together.


To begin with, let’s ask ourselves few questions: –


  • Have you ever had a job where you’ve enjoyed doing your work?
  • While you liked your job, were you also satisfied with how you were being compensated or recognized at the workplace?
  • Did the workplace allow you to explore more and add meaning to your life through various opportunities & experiences beyond work?
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If your answer to all the above is ‘Yes’, you surely have worked or are working at an Amazing Workplace –Businesses that care for employees’ experience and make them thrive, flourish for sure.


Mercer’s 2018 trend suggests ‘Thriving employees are 3 times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. This hasn’t changed much since 2019 and will likely never change. The workplace is like a training ground in our life, it allows one to better oneself, learn from others, collaborate, and co-create.


Every employee has immense potential & has an innate desire to win and accomplish in life. Therefore, we truly need a genuine intent to create a conducive culture where everyone can grow & flourish. We need to be cognizant of the fact that just like different seeds & plants need different environmental factors to grow, similarly, HR Strategy on Culture requires to cater to various dimensions of their being to allow them to blossom. Companies that make a sincere effort in understanding their people and allow them to fully express themselves by accepting their uniqueness are the ones that cultivate Diversity & Inclusion in the true spirit.


To drive the company forward during this pandemic, employee-owned culture has become a greater necessity as we need a higher sense of ownership, accountability, and belongingness. It’s crucial to tap into collective intelligence and ambition through a simple yet effective 3S Approach: –


1.  Safety & Stability –

Covid has placed Safety & security as the top need of the employees. It encompasses sanitization, precautions, masking, CABs, and the employees’ wellbeing too. With a near devastating impact on the mental & emotional health of individuals, organizations are compelled to deploy structured & long-term interventions around the same. Employees need to feel safe & secured at the workplace to open up and share their thoughts and ideas. Only a non-threatening environment can allow the employee to give better results at the same time bring in more positivity to the workplace.

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Simon Sinek says ‘Companies that realize the infinite game are the ones with a sense of cause or a sense of advancing’. In one of the examples shared, he illustrates how an employee is made to feel at different companies. While the former employer catches its employee doing something wrong, the latter acknowledges effort, encourages, guides, and appreciates results.


Even though the nature of his job was the same, the employee’s energy level & performance varied drastically because of the way he was made to feel at these workplaces. With so many lay-offs over the last year alone, employees have started living in fear of losing their jobs too, invariably doing stretched hours despite the WFH scenario with depleting impact on their overall health. With offices gradually moving towards normalcy, employers need to re-assure the employees of their jobs and if feasible support them with few medical or infrastructural overheads too. This will pump up their morale and confidence and allow them to function more efficiently.



2.  Self (Being more of themselves at the workplace) –

Engagement means allowing the employee to bring more of themselves to the workplace. However, at the ground level most engagement activities transpire in a way where employees are compelled to have fun in a certain way prescribed by the company management or HR. It’s an era of Subway, Dominos, and Netflix where the customer gets to pick and choose whatever they like. That puts the need to develop a dynamic & inclusive engagement roadmap. The #newnormal calls for an ecosystem that cultivates wellbeing, fosters relations and allows collaboration & co-creation.


Allow employees to contribute in their unique way towards company objectives and participate in decision- making processes. Projects for innovation and change management involving employees till the last man in the company will make them feel more valued and heard. More openness, transparency in processes including self-awareness can ultimately ensure healthy minds at work fostering a sense of stability at the workplace.


One size fits all approach needs to be evolved to ‘Make your pick’, ‘Attend as you like’ approach, etc. ultimately customizing engagement to provide a personalized experience. One of the ways to do that would be by forming clubs like Fitness, Gaming, Art & Craft, Music, Theatre, Nature work, etc. which can allow all employees to express themselves in their unique way.

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3.  Society (Creating a social impact or serving a community cause)

Being able to cater towards the community or environment enriches employee experience and adds more meaning to their job & the workplace. The top 4 factors driving higher engagement include co-worker relations and sense of purpose or mission. Gallup’s research indicates an improvement in engagement scores lately and attributes it to how organizations develop their employees. Having good relations at work like ‘a best friend’ can act as a great retention factor. Opportunities to serve a bigger purpose or give back to society can create a sense of bonding and satisfaction at the workplace which may otherwise be unattainable. An analysis by PwC says the new standard for employee engagement is fulfilment, which they defined as, ‘when their work & motivators are aligned creating a balance between company focus and employee choice’. Social impact has thereby merged into employee engagement framework as it helps in amplifying the company’s image & leads to employee retention as well.


We have seen a sudden surge of online communities progressively working towards a community problem with the right use of technology and the power of connecting/networking. This ultimately fosters a ‘Community Mindset’ where every employee supports and uplifts the other. Takes responsibility for self while serving others, creating a circle of virtue or positive influence within the organization. ‘Community engagement enables better understanding of communities’ needs and aspirations. Both organizations and communities need to contribute towards the social capital of a country.


To achieve and cater to these 3S’s, our leaders have a huge role to play. They are more like artists, who can groom and impact the employee’s life for good or bad. “Some artists can paint the sun into a ‘yellow dot’ and some artists can turn a yellow dot into a SUN” – Pablo Picasso


Amazing Workplaces are those that have amazing leaders who can nourish this Open-Heart Culture that can potentially nurture talent and make businesses flourish.

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