Can Organisational Culture Influence the Culture of Wakefield?

Image by Dave Noonan from Pixabay

Recently I have been spending a lot of time talking about organisational culture and employee engagement with Wakefield-based companies. With low attraction and retention around the Wakefield District, many employers work hard at finding ways to keep their employees engaged.  Culture is seen as being important for employee engagement, employee retention and keeping absence costs down.

There are a number of ways that Wakefield employers approach culture within their organisation and here are some of them.

Positive culture:
Be comfortable with making mistakes – It’s OK
Get involved and contribute ideas – make a difference
Recognition for making a contribution
Trust and autonomy
Incentive rewards
Communication of a common purpose and vision
Promoting balance and wellbeing

These are all great and healthy contributors for building an engaging and positive organisational culture in any location. So what makes the workplace in Wakefield different to other cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and York?

Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay
Wider than the workplace

The issue of culture is wider than in the workplace itself.

I frequently ask the question during presentations: “Who thinks that Wakefield could benefit from a boost?” This question is often met with ‘yes’ and a very much ‘me too’. There is a definite challenge in the cultural identity of Wakefield and enthusiasm for it to change for the better. Where do you even start? Who is responsible?

Since 2018 we have focused our business activity within the Wakefield District and in doing so, I have personally grown very fond of the quirks. The contributions being made, the flair being sparked, the good humour and the potential.

The challenges in moving in a new cultural direction lie in moving values and beliefs. This is not easy. It starts by helping individuals see they are safe to make a difference. They don’t have to wait for someone else to do it and that it is OK not to conform to the way things have always been done around here.

Supporting and stimulating a positive culture in Wakefield:

Working with organisations already adopting a positive approach to culture,  we believe is a stepping stone to influencing the local area and making a positive imprint. Leading positive culture by example.

When we take a look at the positive aspects of organisational culture listed, we can see some wider challenges to overcome cultural challenges across Wakefield.

Get involved and contribute ideas – make a difference: You are certainly free to get involved and contribute ideas in Wakefield. A positive culture builds trust in sharing ideas. If we like your idea, then we will help you develop it. If we are unsure of your idea, then we’ll work with you to shape it. Building safe environments and spirit to share and build ideas is important to move the culture of the city forward.

The challenge is when sharing of ideas can be misinterpreted. If we like the idea, we may just take it to claim the glory as there is much glory needed to make both myself and this place look good. If we are unsure of the idea then we’ll ignore you and hope you will go away. This approach can affect trust in sharing ideas in the future and reinforce a stagnant culture in sharing ideas. Ideas are necessary to move a place forward and stimulate a healthy culture and collaboration.

Be comfortable with making mistakes – It’s OK
Intellectually speaking, making mistakes is fine. The reality of making mistakes must be accepted in the same way. A healthy culture stimulates entrepreneurship and for entrepreneurship to thrive, then it has to be OK to make mistakes. The challenge is when mistakes make influencers feel uncomfortable. We are happy for you to do it and when it succeeds, we are right behind you, but we are not making mistakes as we have our reputation to think about. A positive culture of making mistakes and learning fast is the role of leadership and influencers in the city. A reputation of making mistakes and learning fast is a positive one to inspire others.
Wakefield has a strong commitment to voluntary and community activities and individuals are recognised for making a contribution, demonstrating a great strength for a positive culture. Wakefield Council is leading the way to a positive cultural transformation across the district. It takes collaboration as cultural transformation is not possible to achieve alone.

Image by maisonmaigre from Pixabay
Future Wakefield Culture

Wakefield has historically been associated as an ex-mining community and centre for distribution. With the increase in fantastic iconic destinations such as The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth, The Art House and the festivals, Wakefield certainly has a future in transforming its identity. These in conjunction with collaboration between all invested parties lays down a positive prospect for a cultural transformation.

The key, we believe is in the leaders with a desire to move the city forward as with organisations leading by example. Individuals can then begin to feel more comfortable in seeing their role as a valuable piece of the jigsaw.

Making a positive shift alone seems insurmountable. It is about individuals making a choice and feeling confident they can make a difference and once again collaboration helps to build confidence in moving in the same direction. It takes more ‘yes’s’ and being open to ideas and possibility to move forward.

Bleisure Rewards works with organisations with a positive culture, because by coming together, we can contribute by bringing the best of local culture into the city and inspiring local people to step up and get involved with rewards for doing so.  Rewards help to support the idea that it’s OK to step out of the norm and do something different in supporting your local area.

What is your experience of culture in Wakefield?

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