February 5, 2019

On Workplace Cultures and Coral Reefs

Workplace cultures and coral reefs have much in common. First and foremost, both are incredibly valuable and have much to contribute.

Healthy coral reefs are homes to a million diverse aquatic species and provide the foundation for much of the ocean life. Similarly, healthy workplace culture has the ability to provide a home and assimilate diverse employees that bring multiple talents, strengths, viewpoints, and ideas to the fore. Although diverse, the workplace culture binds them together with a common mission, vision, values, and an energizing, positive work environment.   

Coral reefs are constructed from the contributions of millions of coral polyps over an extended period of time. Workplace cultures also need time to grow and develop and are dependent upon contributions from team members across the board.

Coral reefs are incredibly valuable and contribute so very much. They support enormous biodiversity that is vital to the world’s fisheries. They are critical to healthy oceans and vital to the environment. In economic terms alone, coral reefs have an estimated value of 2.7 trillion dollars annually.

Similarly, workplace cultures are critical to the long-term success of a business or organization. Increasingly, prospective employees look for employment in companies with a reputation for having a positive culture. Culture has much to do with whether employees stay or leave; one study shows that 48% of employees start looking for another job when the company culture is poor. Finally, a vibrant positive work culture results in happier more productive employees, which directly affects the bottom line.

Coral reefs are delicate and extremely sensitive to the environment. Maintaining coral reefs has to be an on-going, top priority. The same goes for workplace cultures. It takes time, consideration, and commitment to developing a positive culture and a never-ending effort to maintain it. Similar to coral reefs, workplace environments can be disrupted easily by negative influences.

Workplace cultures are front and center in organizational development discussions at the present time and deservedly so. People spend 1/3 of their lives working and spending this amount of time in a positive, energized, and challenging environment has become a high priority. There is currently a very tight labor market and attracting and keeping top talent is essential to a business’s success. To the emerging young workforce majority, the quality of the workplace environment is a major consideration in choosing a company and has everything to do with staying for the long-term.