Culture at the Workplace

Work culture has got top-of-mind importance today, especially after the pandemic. You can say that ‘culture’ is the character and personality of your business; and that is what makes your business unique – the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes.

Discussing “Culture at the workplace” was Divya Khanna, author of “The Company We Keep” and strategist at #RTQUORUM. An advertising professional, she has worked in senior positions with some of the biggest names in the business, including Lowe Lintas & JWT.

The spotlight was on the current state of affairs in the corporate culture. She started by saying that we have heard all about toxic culture, toxic bosses etc. “We must be somehow buying into all this!” was her observation. It is well known that toxic work environments breed a host of disturbing things like – unrest, competition, low morale, constant stress, negativity, sickness, high turnover, and even bullying. Or even worse? It’s a condition where the workplace is plagued so much to the point that productivity and the well-being of the employees are affected.

So, as far as she was concerned she tried to sit up, and take some action. She reached a point where she could not face it any longer. “I wrote the book to get answers for myself,” she said putting it in plain words. We don’t outgrow our need to feel accepted, admired and be popular in the cultures we want to belong to. One of the key things in Indian culture is the “emphasis on hard work”.

What is the culture at the workplace? Here’s a reality check. There’s strong status-conscious hierarchy, stress flowing downwards, where the big question of managing the boss pops up, gender stereotypes, intense pressure, high competitiveness and short-term focus. All these come into play to rock the boat! Quite famously, we Indians try to manage but, “jugaad can take us only that far”!

In conversation with Bharatendu Kabi, Head – Corporate Communication & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Hero MotoCorp she was asked when was it that she decided to take a break. “I reached a point where a break was necessary and I took a year to decide too,” she said and added that “I realised that ambition and competition was seeping out!”

Who drives culture? Is it always top-down? It’s really our choice, she admitted. Work is important, but we need our ‘personal’ time. And regarding diversity, equity and change, her view was that the need to make a change is there, but it is complicated and it is backfiring today!

Her journey can be listed as – work, took a break and then took up writing…and then COVID happened. Work life balance went through a huge change, and work entered our home, our private place. Did she think at work we were going forward or are we going backward? Her impression was – before COVID, I thought one size fits all;
e-commerce became a huge phenomenon through COVID and quite frankly, it is continuing to evolve. There is a lot of questioning happening today, and as for my book, the topic – The Company We Keep: Insights Into Indian Corporate Culture really sets minds thinking. “My sense is that we will have to find some flexibility,” she said, trying to think ahead.

She then came down to her final take –  There is no ideal world – “we are all works in progress. I think we need to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ mentality and allow space for individual reflection, choices and experiences”.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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