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Shaping Human-Centered Workplace Cultures

In recent years, there have been dramatic societal transformations that have affected the workplace. From the increased necessity for remote work to trends in employee turnover and new generations entering the workforce, work as we have known it is changing. Although these numerous changes have forced organizations to adapt rapidly, one aspect where workplaces are still falling behind is culture. Unfortunately, workplace culture is often found at the tail end of societal change when it should be at the front.

In a special Annual Wellness Summit preview webcast “If It’s Happening in the World, It’s Happening at Work,” Angela Howard, CEO and founder of Call for Culture examines the importance of a positive work culture and ways for organizations to move toward a cultural approach that considers our humanity within and outside of the workplace.

The Basics of Culture

Culture touches nearly every aspect of our lives as individuals in society—but what exactly is it? Essentially, a culture is a culmination of beliefs, values and rituals that get repeated and reinforced over time. These basic tenets that form culture in society also contribute to the creation of workplace cultures. Depending on which beliefs, values and associated behaviors are reinforced at work, an organizational culture can either be generally positive and change-ready or toxic and stagnant. It is important to investigate how the shared ways of thinking and behaving both inside and outside of work affect the lives of employees and the overall well-being of an organization.

Cultural Shifts Impacting Work

In her discussion, Howard identified a few recent culture shifts that are heavily impacting work. One such shift is the changing social contract between employers and employees. Gen Z and Gen Alpha are entering the workforce, and trends show they are not buying into the status quo of current power dynamics. Instead, they are holding solid boundaries on how work fits into their lives. Research has found that 73% of Gen Z employees want flexible work alternatives, and Deloitte reports that work/life balance is the top consideration for Gen Z when choosing an employer. Organizations need to understand that workplace cultures may need to change to attract new and emerging talent from these generations.

Another cultural shift that is affecting the workplace is politics. In recent years, the line between what is happening in the world and what is happening at work has been blurring. 2024 is a presidential election year in the U.S., and politics are increasingly testing individuals’ beliefs and values. Organizations that want to stay change-ready and resilient should be prepared to acknowledge the additional anxiety, stress and polarization of the current political landscape.

Coming Together for Change

We talk a lot about why workplace culture is important, but not enough about how to solve negative work cultures at a systemic and systematic level. Success in the workplace is often measured by productivity. This leads to a “hustle culture” of working harder and striving to be productive to the extreme, which often results in employee burnout. This process is ultimately unsustainable and ineffective, not to mention wasteful of human energy. There is a need to incentivize more sustainable business practices and work structures. On an organizational level, employers must evaluate the culture, starting with homing in on their values systems. Once core values have been established and defined, organizations must pick measurements that align with their values systems and business strategies. This provides the opportunity to collect and analyze data that can measure the impacts of workplace culture over time.

Accountability and feedback are important parts of this process. In discussions of workplace culture, leadership often outlines the type of culture they want—but not what they don’t want. Identifying aspects of positive work culture as well as undesired negative culture is necessary for organizational accountability. Employers must ask themselves: Are we reinforcing well-being values systems? Are our workplace practices in line with organizational values? Another way to ensure that positive culture changes are taking effect is to develop an organic feedback loop within the organization. By making the executive leadership team more accessible, it is easier to give feedback to these drivers of workplace culture from those living it daily.


In this discussion of societal change and workplace culture, one question remains: How do employers create wellness as a shared responsibility across an organization? Howard emphasizes the need for human-centered workplaces designed with everybody in mind. Ultimately, culture is most changed though the power of community. Howard also shared that this year’s Annual Wellness Summit will give those in attendance a chance to meet and connect on these broader societal issues, creating a ripple effect of impact and action that will positively affect organizational culture and well-being at work.

Attend Angela Howard’s keynote session at the 2024 Annual Wellness Summit to learn more. This year, WELCOA and the National Wellness Institute (NWI) have joined forces to present the Annual Wellness Summit, August 26-29 in Chicago.


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Rebecca Plier is diving headfirst into the wonderful world of employee benefits and workplace wellness. As a PR/Communications Specialist at WELCOA’s partner organization, the International Foundation, Rebecca shares essential information on educational programming, emerging benefits research data, member resources, and so much more. To maintain balance, she enjoys art journaling and attending regular yoga sessions.