Building a strong workplace culture – actions not words

Kaitlin Hastie
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The increasing focus on workplace culture in Australia and overseas is something that businesses can no longer ignore.

On the first sitting day of federal parliament for 2022, we saw our most senior politicians formally apologise to those who have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or bullying in that workplace.

The conversation around workplace culture is shifting fast. Team members, customers and shareholders are demanding greater transparency from company leaders on how they are leading and truly embedding a cultural shift.

One thing that was clear from all leaders at the recent NRF 2022 in New York, is that these conversations are no longer just an agenda item to be discussed once a month, but something that all leaders must be addressing in every facet of their businesses.

Building the right culture in companies, means truly embedding the right values and behaviours in EVERYTHING that they do.

Put simply, team members and customers are demanding more from leaders. The amplification of choice and the phenomenon of the ‘great resignation’ has also heightened the pressure for leaders and organisations to improve their workplace culture and demonstrate transparency both internally and externally.

Clearly workers are finding their voice but it’s now the responsibility of leaders to listen.

The Australian Human Rights Commission lists six recommendations that help prevent inappropriate workplace behaviour in companies.

  • Leadership
  • Skills and Experience
  • Culture
  • Systems and Frameworks
  • Executive Alignment
  • Transparency to Outcomes

Nobody will be surprised to see that Leadership is key, but it must be demonstrated by clear values and expected behaviours. It has to be followed through too, if these changes are not genuine, it simply won’t work and true cultural change will not be realised.

Putting in place clear systems and frameworks, including culture metrics, should also be part of executive KPIs to ensure progress is measured and leaders, are held to account.

I also think that building internal team capability is vital when you’re looking to build a healthy culture. Those businesses that invest in training and development, can help ensure they build a diverse team of workers of different sexes, races and backgrounds.

At Grant Thornton, we work with some of Australia’s biggest brands to navigate these challenges. It’s no longer enough to talk about building great cultures. Leaders & businesses need to take action and hold themselves accountable, otherwise their consumers and team members alike will vote with their voice.

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We are Retail

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