Culture from every angle

O.C. Tanner’s second annual Global Culture Report offers a holistic view of the modern workplace as it sits within the global economy and society at large.
By: | January 9, 2020

The happiest and most engaged employees are those who work for companies that have a thriving workplace culture. Such culture enables employees with a sense of purpose and identity, which helps build a meaningful employee experience.

However, most organisations are missing a crucial piece of the employee experience when it comes to interacting with them, says O.C. Tanner, an expert in employee recognition and workplace culture. What they overlook is the wide variety of everyday human interactions and events, trials and triumphs, adventures, and misadventures that define life at work. This is the true employee experience that employers often forget.

If you want to build a thriving workplace culture, create great micro-experiences, O.C. Tanner advises in its 2020 Global Culture Report. It says these micro-experiences should connect employees to purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership. An organisation filled with peak and positive micro-experiences in each of those areas is one that employees will seek to work for, engage with, remain at, and give their heart-and-soul to help succeed.

Burnout fears

Past research shows a lack of appreciation, conflicts in cooperation, role ambiguity, and role stress are all strong predictors of burnout. While millennials are more likely than workers of older generations to experience it, burnout is similar in white collar and blue-collar workers, leading O.C. Tanner to believe it’s not the type or amount of work that causes employees to burn out, but the culture they work in.

Employee burnout is the result of chronic culture deficiencies. Poor everyday experiences, like a lack of purpose at work, contributes to increased risk of burnout. Employees need to know how what they do impacts the organisation, its customers, and the rest of society. If leaders fail to help employees see the larger picture, or the “why” behind the work they do, there is a 22% increased chance of employee burnout, the report warns.

Thriving teams

One way of improving employee engagement and reducing the chances of burnout is to build thriving teams. O.C. Tanner’s research uncovered two essential building blocks of high performing teams. One is a strong sense of autonomy – being able to act independently as a team.

Employees in the modern workplace thrive on autonomy. But that doesn’t mean each individual works independently from the others. Instead, the team is granted autonomy as a whole. As a collective, team members can set goals, make decisions, and decide what projects to do and how to do them with little or no leader involvement.

The other characteristic of thriving teams is a strong sense of psychological safety. The basic definition of psychological safety is “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career.” When employees feel emotionally safe at work and with their teams, they can take risks, innovate, share new ideas, and be themselves without worrying about being criticised or ostracised by their peers.

To see the full report go to