Evidence-based actions for organizational culture

These actions and responses can be implemented with a minimal investment of resources or cost to the organization.

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Description: In a work environment with positive organizational culture, there are shared values of trust, honesty, fairness and accountability.

You can access our free workshop materials to engage your team in a discussion about how their interactions impact organizational culture.

Build a culture of trust. 

  • Trust means we believe our leaders and colleagues have our best interests at heart, even when we disagree with their perspectives or opinions. 
  • Employees trust leaders who are emotionally intelligent and consistent in their management style. Building trust for leaders breaks this down and provides tips and strategies that any leader can use to improve their relationship with their employees. 
  • Beginning with top level management, ensure that all leaders take an approach that supports the psychological health and safety of all workplace stakeholders. The Psychologically Safe Leader Assessment can help identify and support this type of behaviour. 
  • Host a leadership meeting to discuss questions about Organizational culture to help guide your actions. 
  • Refer to Leadership skills for resources to help improve emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration, fairness and integrity, social intelligence, and more. 
  • Develop a vision, mission and values in collaboration with all employees. 
    • Ensure values are communicated to everyone. 
    • Encourage everyone to adhere and be accountable to align with these values daily. 
  • Create values-based procedures to guide decision-making.  
    • For example, asking the question, “How might this decision  ( or policy, change, process, event, task, communication) impact psychological health and safety in our workplace?” 
  • If your workplace is unionized, you may also want to review Union and management cooperation
  • Explain and communicate decisions with respect and empathy, especially when the outcomes of decisions may be seen as negative by some employees. 

Train all leaders in effective conflict resolution.  

  • Make sure all employees know who to turn to when they’re dealing with a difficult situation, especially if the difficulty is with their supervisor. 
  • Encourage face-to-face communication, particularly for difficult issues. 
  • Hold all members of the organization accountable for their actions and ensure managers and leaders are held to the same or higher standard. 
  • Conflict response for leaders is an effective approach to resolving conflict in a psychologically safe way.

Ensure inclusivity for every employee. 

  • Provide onboarding, mentorship and peer coaching to help employees feel like they’re part of a community and making a valuable contribution.  
  • Introduce new workers to employees at all levels. 
  • New Canadians bring many benefits to the workplace, which can be lost when they aren’t properly supported in areas such as integration and communication. Review Leader support for newcomers for strategies to help newcomers adapt to their new workplace culture. 
  • Indigenous engagement planning provides useful strategies to attract candidates from other communities and groups not currently represented in your workplace. 
  • Workplace discrimination, even when unintentional, can seriously impact employees’ psychological well-being.  

Additional actions and resources  

Putting organizational culture on the agenda provides you with materials to support a team discussion on approaches to organizational culture as well as materials to support policy review and development.

Adapted from Guarding Minds at Work™

© Samra, J., Gilbert, M., Shain, M., Bilsker, D. 2009-2020, with amendments by Stuart, H. 2022.  All rights reserved. Website development and data storage by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

Guarding Minds at Work was commissioned by Canada Life and additional resources are supported by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health.

Contributors include.articlesDan BilskerDavid K. MacDonaldDr. Heather StuartDr. Joti SamraDr. Martin ShainMary Ann BayntonMerv GilbertPhilip PerczakSarah JennerSusan JakobsonWorkplace Safety and Prevention ServicesWorkplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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