Just as individuals have personalities, so does an organization, that personality is called a culture.

Organizational culture is the beliefs, values and behavioural norms shared by organizational members that influence the way they do their work. These shared values, beliefs and norms that make up an organization’s culture determine, to a large extent, what organizational members think is important and the way they do their work. When confronted with a problem, culture influences what organizational members do about it because of ‘the way things are done around here.’

Corporate culture can include everything from dress code to teamwork to accessibility to top management. There is no generally applicable form of corporate culture, since what works for one organization may not work for another. Management should take into consideration what the company does and the kind of people it seeks to employ when deciding the leadership approach and corporate culture as a whole. Obviously, the company culture of an advertising agency would most likely be very different from that of an investment firm because of the nature of work.

Some companies opt for more rigid, formal corporate culture. The aim is to provide a structured formal professional working environment.

A law firm for example, because of the nature of their work, may feel the need to have a very formal organizational culture because that is the image that suits the serious image of law. They meet with clients who are reassured by the dignified appearance of the people to whom they entrust their cases. The above example highlights why some organizations may feel a rigid organizational culture is necessary

The rigid company culture seems to be declining in popularity as more and more organizations are adopting a more flexible culture.

According to forbes.com, building a flexible workplace is a strategic business decision that is good for the business and good for the employee. Forbes.com also states that companies are finding that flextime boosts productivity, and more and more of them, including Kraft Foods , Texas Instruments and First Tennessee Bank, are taking advantage of it. When employees manage their own schedules, their stress levels decline and they focus better on their tasks. According to a recent study by Georgetown University, employee stress from trying to find time for their children correlates with decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. The study found that unplanned absences were costing some businesses nearly $1 million a year.

Of course, there are quite a few concerns associated with this more flexible approach to work. What if the work doesn’t get done? The employee would be more motivated to work when he or she is surrounded by his/her colleagues. In the case of an emergency meeting or some emergency action, how would they get in touch with the employee? And finally, how would it make the company look professionally if we give employees the option of coming to work whenever they please? Many feel that there must be structures in place to ensure that there are checks on the employees.

A study at Durham University in the U.K. reported that flexible working initiatives that “equip the worker with more choice or control, such as self-scheduling or gradual or phased retirement, are likely to have positive effects on health and well being.” In particular, the study showed improvements in mental health, sleep quality, sleep duration, and alertness during the night when employees had more control over their schedules.

What does this mean? How does this relate to the Ghanaian work culture? And what changes should be made if any?

In helping define and implement company culture, Forbes.com suggests the following steps

1. Determine what you want to be, and make it clear to everyone. 

2. Set up practices that encourage the desired atmosphere.

3. Tend to your culture. 

Once again, there is no generally applicable company culture, one must look at the needs of the company, and also the personalities of the employees; know how much space to give them and the right checks that must be put in place to ensure that they do the right thing. It’s true that there’s no place at home but with the right environment, any office can become a home away from home for its workers. 


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