‘Workplace culture’ is a phrase that any working person can talk about easily as it has been burned into the business lexicon. It’s not a new phrase but it has become more relevant lately as an increasing number of young professionals place greater importance on it.

What does workplace culture mean? Culture is the pulse of an organization and its employees, the beating heart that propagates it. When we talk about work culture, we’re talking about values, vision, traditions and other such fibers of an organization’s tapestry.

Culture is undoubtedly influenced by the social and physical infrastructure of a company but what truly makes or breaks it is the people. And a company with a reputation for investing in its people attracts the best talent in the business.

So how can an organization ensure an ideal work culture? The answer is simple: through empathy. This is often discussed as an essential trait in progressive workplaces but is rarely found. Having an honest discussion about issues such as emotional wellbeing, family, service to others and gender politics should be an intrinsic part of any organization’s hiring process.

Meritocratic ideals that dominate the hiring process in many organizations today should be secondary to a potential candidate’s emotional intelligence.

Knowing that you’re part of a work culture that values empathy above all allows you to feel safe about performance. Leaders who practice empathy will not simply blame employees for poor performances but will work to understand the root cause.

Being an empathetic leader not only allows struggling employees to improve but propels them to excel in a way that exceeds their own beliefs.

Good working relationships are vital to a company’s culture as they foster relationships that go beyond work. Having friends and feeling secure in your job creates a healthy, positive frame of mind that can unleash an employee’s potential in a way that is in line with a company’s goals.

Just a reminder, this is an opinion, not fact. I’m truly privileged as I am currently part of an organization that is striving to hit this standard of cultural excellence. And I am grateful for the friendships I’ve forged during my time here because sometimes at the end of a long day, there’s nothing I’d rather do than grab a drink with my fantastic colleagues.

Tariq Hazarika is Manager, Operations at Harappa Education

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