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How Company Culture Can Positively Impact Business Goals A solid cultural foundation not only fosters growth of departments, individuals, or the company in general, but it also creates a legacy of an organization's values.

By Murtaza Hashwani

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There was an interesting report recently published by human resources (HR) software provider Breathe that revealed that the cost of poor company culture in the UK stands at a whopping GBP20.2 billion (US$27.1 billion) per year- a truly staggering figure.

It's strange that as workplaces across all sectors strive to become leaner, greener, and more resource-conscious, there is still an underestimation in some quarters of the terrible impact a depressing work environment can have.

As the saying goes: "there're no bad companies, just bad managers." A solid cultural foundation not only fosters growth of departments, individuals, or the company in general, but it also creates a legacy of an organization's values. It helps employees know how the top management wants them to respond to situation, and what behaviors will be rewarded.

According to Aditya Jain, an associate professor in human resource management at Nottingham University Business School, a toxic work culture is "one where workers are exposed to psychosocial hazards. They may have little or no organizational support, poor interpersonal relationships, high workloads, lack of autonomy, poor rewards, and a lack of job security."

From bullying and harassment, to more subtle issues such as race and gender discrimination and intense micro-managing, once the poison has started to spread, it is extremely hard to stop it– and an organization's reputation can go into a death spiral. This is certainly a global problem, which, too often, managers, company leaders, and CEOs ignore.

How can companies and CEOs drive innovation, dedication, and enthusiasm from the bottom-up to not only create a growth-centric culture in the workplace, but also one that supports inclusivity, equal opportunities, and a clear value system that is followed by one and all? This will thereby create a culture that creates positive impact for the business, as well as for its individuals.

If you're in a leadership position, then it's worth considering the expression: "the fish rots from the head." If your place of business is witnessing excessive staff turnover and sick days, HR complaints, and there is never-ending gossip and drama, then something is very wrong. You must address the situation for the sake of your organization, and the wellbeing of your staff.

Being seen as having a progressive and fair work environment really isn't an option anymore, because these days new recruits don't just care about good salaries or job perks– they also care about a company's culture, philosophy, and quality of training. If the vibe or reputation about a company is bad, they'll likely walk away– no matter how good the bonuses are.

Related: The How-To: Building A Solid Culture In Early-Stage Startups

Employee development doesn't mean breaking the bank or adding huge monetary incentives every time a team member throws their toys out of the pram. Implementing consistent training and development opportunities serves as a motivational tool, and it also benefits the company in the long-term. For example, using skills of other employees for internal training and development is also one aspect to invest in, if the company can't offer external training resources.

It's not hard to offer a great place to work and reap the benefits of having cheerful employees. You just need to relate on a human level, and think a little outside the box. Awareness among leadership teams, across the board, is imperative to identify the common factors that are causing a lack of motivation among team members. Define the company values, and use the culture to tell the narrative of the company vision.

Most importantly, company culture can be changed and molded over time. Use the past as an indicator of setting yours and your team's future priorities. Consider all the changes before implementing them, and get your team's feedback and focus on the new narrative. For example, Iceland's trial of a four-day work week back in 2015 seemed shocking to some, but the experiment was an overwhelming success. Productivity remained the same or improved in most workplaces, while happiness levels rocketed- leading many fellow European countries to follow suit.

As such, it was fantastic to see the UAE government –as ever at the forefront of positive change– announce that public sector employees will enjoy a two-and-a-half-day weekend starting in 2022. The transition to longer weekends is intended to boost productivity and improve work-life balance, officials said, and there are further work-related policy changes expected in the months ahead. What a great example to set as we move into a new era of business.

Related: A New Way To Work: Developing A Company Culture For A Remote World

Murtaza Hashwani

Deputy Chairman, Hashoo Group

Murtaza Hashwani grew up in a family that believed in helping others and making a difference in the world. Through Hashoo Foundation, the family are actively involved empowering communities by facilitating opportunities to become independent and creating a greater social impact. As the Chairman of Hashoo Foundation, philanthropy is part of Murtaza’s DNA.

Over the past few decades, his ambitious plans for greater outreach and meaningful impact with access to education, health and sustainable livelihood have resulted in millions of men and women directly benefitting in rural and urban settings in Pakistan. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Murtaza graduated from Santa Monica in Business Management and after a eight year stint of flexing his entrepreneurial ideas successfully, he joined the family’s hospitality business. Hands on business experience under the supervision of his father, the legendary Sadruddin Hashwani, ensured that Murtaza delved deeply in every aspect of the hospitality and hotel business.

This didn’t stop him from honing his academic skills further.

Hotel management courses from Cornell to business management from London Business School to a Management Programme from Harvard Business School, Murtaza seamlessly combined experience with business theory. He applied the learnings to efficiently launch multiple successful business ventures including the first hospitality school in Pakistan, Hashoo School of Hospitality Management, which is affiliated with Sheffield Business School, UK. Whether it’s the recently launched digital payment portal Foree, or the revolutionary product that has transformed water problems in Pakistan and soon all third world countries called EveryWater, or even a hospitality tech services company based in the UAE, Ascendant, the secret behind Murtaza’s success is his foresight. By developing these disruptive technologies it’s through his vision and focus that he has become one of the foremost business leaders from Pakistan with global reach.

While others see limitations Murtaza Hashwani sees opportunity and possibility. Murtaza considers himself a facilitator of success. By embedding the foundation into his business, he wants to give people around him the support they need to excel. Whether it is a student vying for scholarship through Hashoo Foundation or an employee pursuing his passion or creativity. Applying his business acumen and experience, all he does is give them a platform for innovation while guiding and polishing it for end users and links it to create a bigger social impact.

There’s no typical day in the life of Murtaza Hashwani as he juggles between the expansion plans for Hashoo Hotels, Hashoo Foundation and a series of tech launches. An entrepreneur, philanthropist and a visionary, Murtaza’s ultimate aim is facilitate positive and impactful change in the lives of individuals and communities at large.

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