Curiosity from employees is beneficial for a business to grow and improve. It shows a willingness to learn, engage and instigate collaboration.
Whilst many business leaders may agree with the importance of a curious workforce, they may not recognise company culture as the catalyst for this.
To know whether your culture encourages curiosity, it may help to first delve into and explore the importance of company culture. You’ve likely heard the term before, and will understand that every company has one, but there is no one-size-fits-all. Company culture is both unique and dynamic.
Changes in working practices this past year, such as a recent shift to hybrid-working, as well as a restructured workforce, can impact the culture of a workplace. It’s a good idea to review yours periodically to make sure that it continues to support your business and the people within it.
Getting to know company culture
Company culture, also known as organisational culture, has a big impact on the day-to-day running of a business. Put simply, it can be understood as “the way we do things around here”.
A combination of shared values, traditions and behaviours within a workforce represent how you might see company culture played out day-to-day; whilst clear policies and robust leadership help to reinforce and maintain this.
Your company culture will be made up of a mixture of behaviours, values and processes that are key for your business. These may include, for instance:
“We lead by example” – A good way to encourage accountability.
“We treat everyone with respect” – Showing a safe and fair working environment.
“We don’t hold meetings on Fridays” – A commitment to a balanced workflow.
The way that you do things will no doubt have changed this past year due to the pandemic. If you’re thinking of making some temporary processes more permanent, have a think about how this may affect your culture, especially when re-opening the workplace and bringing employees back to work.
Protecting your company culture
When employees feel involved and happy at work, they are more likely to take an active role in protecting the culture.
An inclusive company culture that welcomes and nurtures employee voices provides a sense of belonging. So whilst inquisitive employees can sometimes create unwanted interruptions during busy times, it’s best to remember that they care about their work and the impact it has on the wider business. These employees can make great allies for management and even become future leaders.
Alternatively, if employees feel stifled or unable to express themselves, they can start to disengage. This can become challenging for teamwork, problem solving and effective management.
Cultivating curiosity in your business
If you’re in the process of bringing employees back to work, now is as good a time as any to encourage a culture of curiosity.
Employees will naturally have questions about their return. Are they returning to new roles? A different workspace? How will they be kept safe? And so on.
At this stage of the pandemic and the expected reopening of society and return to work, we encourage SME owners to engage with each member of their team to identify the desired return to work plan, as one size approach will definitely not fit all. Find out what your staff want, if they have any particular issues, and how they see they can contribute within their desired work structure. You may not be able to agree to what they wish for, but at least you have sought their opinion and analysed it before giving a response. Employees will know they cannot have everything they want, but they will also know they work for someone who cares to ask and treats them as a person rather than an asset
Facilitating these conversations can ease any back-to-work anxiety and have a positive impact on workplace well-being.
Beyond this, it shows your commitment to the views of your employees and can clearly define positive channels for communication.
Channelling and managing curiosity
If you are concerned that making yourself more available to answer curious questions may open the floodgates, for which you feel you don’t have the time, we can help.
With some simple processes, communication techniques and people management practices, you can maintain and channel curiosity in a way that benefits your business and keeps your staff engaged.