5 Steps For Implementing Culture Change In The Workplace

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5 Steps For Implementing Culture Change In The Workplace

Culture change in the workplace has been on every HR professional’s mind lately, and with good reason. Local statistics tell us that nearly half of young South African professionals are unhappy in their jobs and are looking to make a change within the next twelve months for various reasons.

This is an expensive and demoralising state of affairs that has a lot to do with a gap between cultural expectation and the reality in the workplace. As we near the end of a rather tumultuous year, it’s time to assess the way forward. With the average South African job satisfaction level sitting at 6 out of 10, it's time that businesses concern themselves with the employee experience.

By now we know that employee engagement is a vital component of high-performance teams, but engagement is fairly unlikely in businesses with a toxic, or simply uninspiring company culture. Here are five steps to address culture change in the workplace in 2020 and beyond.

Addressing Culture Change In The Workplace In 5 Simple Steps

1. Gather Data So You Know Where You’re Starting From

As per the old earworm from The Sound of Music, you need to start at the very beginning - a very good place to start. Get down to grassroots and find out what's bothering your employees. Best case scenario, you may find that there are certain groups or demographics who are perfectly content with the way things are and would actually prefer it if there weren’t any shakeups.

On the other hand, thorough surveys among your workforce may pinpoint certain important pain points that need to be addressed, e.g. inadequate guidance from management, or a lack of resources.

Whatever the case may be, gathering data on the status quo via a series of (preferably anonymous) surveys is a good way to get the lay of the land.

Employee Surveys

2. Plot Out Where You’re Headed

Once you know where you’re starting from, you need to know where you’re headed. Cultural change needs to be addressed gradually, and with great care. It helps to break down the issues and proposed solutions into actionable steps that can be implemented without too much disruption and measured to determine success.

For instance, addressing an issue like malicious gossip will require getting to the bottom of the cause of the internal strife. Are certain employees being given preferential treatment? Are your team members burnt out or overworked?

Once you know, you can take steps to rectify the cause of the problem, and put failsafes in place to ensure that it does not reoccur.

3. Align Your Culture With Your Business Vision and Mission

When taking up cultural changes with your team, it helps to tie it to your overall business vision and mission.

For instance, instead of saying ‘we want everyone to stop gossiping’, you could provide context by framing it in the following way: ‘We want everyone to contribute to a welcoming, inclusive workplace where all employees are fairly treated, supported by their co-workers, and able to work to the best of their ability."

4. Recognise and Reward Positive Habits

The simplest and most effective way to promote a change of behaviour and the adoption of positive habits among a diverse group of people is to reward the type of actions of which you wish to see more. For instance, instead of penalising or browbeating employees who arrive late for shifts, you could recognise those team members who consistently arrive on time by rewarding them with preferred shifts.

TOP TIP: To be effective, employee recognition should be timely, regular, and visible. Peer-on-peer recognition is also a strong motivator, so consider investing in a mobile platform that makes it easy for employees to do so.

5. Measure Your Progress Regularly

Cultural change will not happen overnight. It's a slow and steady process. The best way to know whether your measures are working is to check in with your employees regularly.

Conduct regular pulse surveys to measure sentiment among your team, and use the data to finetune your approach if need be.


Culture change in the workplace is completely possible. Your organisation can enjoy all the benefits of a robust, employee-centric culture if you take the time to know where you’re starting from, plot out where you’re headed, and measure your progress.