what do memes have to do with fostering a healthy work culture?

 
memes in the office
 

What if I told you that memes are integral to a cooperative society?

No, not these memes.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” in his book Selfish Gene (1976)— long before they were just quippy jokes over top of funny photos.

Memes are the phenomenon of ideas, behaviour, and styles spreading from person to person within a culture.

You can think of a meme as genes that spread like a virus— It’s often been said that attitudes and ideas are infectious, after all.

I was listening to a podcast, Lead.FM: Why Leaders Need To Grasp Meme Theory, where executive coach Dr. Scott Francis and marketing leader, Tony Creech relate idea-memes to the work culture of an organisation.

How many times have you experienced negative work environment due a single person’s attitude at the office?

Negative thinking is stealthy. It creeps into an organisation quietly until the spread of infection becomes too difficult to control.

What are the common complains of your employees?

It’s important to keep your ear to the ground and pay attention to the general complains from your employees.

Some of the most common complaints include:

  • Feeling under appreciated

  • High-stress and burnout

  • Poor employee-management relationships

  • General job dislike

What can you do as leaders?

Employment branding and transparency

Fostering a great work environment begins with hiring the right people for the job. It’s in everyone’s best interests to make hiring decisions based on a set of common values between the company and its employees.

You can start by establishing a transparent branding strategy. What are your organisation's core values? And what are you currently doing to demonstrate these values to attract the right talent?

Position description and day-to-day role transparency during the hiring process will also help you weed out people who will hold a general dislike for the job. We believe there’s a role out there in the workforce for everyone and it’s all in the matchmaking.

Get regular employee feedback

Employee feedback, both positive and negative,  are essential to a company’s growth. Having conversations with your staff will help you learn what’s working for the company and what’s not and it will help guide your future decisions in leadership.

How do you get employee feedback?

Simply, show an interest in what your employees have to say about their job and the work culture. The trick is to get honest feedback. Here are some tips on how to get honest feedback from employees from sixteen Forbes Coaches Council members.

Tackle the negativity head-on.

It all comes back to communication. What is causing the grievances around the office and are there any direct ways you can address that?

Whether it’s showing more appreciation for employee efforts, providing more training and support, or letting go of an employee who is perpetuating negativity— as a leader, you need to nip the problems at the root.

Work on your relationships

Provide opportunities for professional development

One of the best ways of fostering a great company environment is by providing employees with the tools to succeed.

Mentoring programs, one-on-one meetings, career planning, and workshops are great for exercising positive ideas in the workplace and will help build relationships.

Show gratitude and celebrate one another

Give shout outs to work well done. A simple "thank you” can go a long way in employee satisfaction.

This can extend beyond workplace performance. Almost anyone can fill any role— think of ways to appreciate employees as individuals for what they bring into the company itself.

Showing interest in each others lives is a crucial part of creating a positive work environment and it’s can be a lot of fun!

To sum up why memes are important…

Going back to what Richard Dawkins tells us about memes, os that it’s the cultural equivalent of a gene. A meme can be a fashion craze, a process to the way we do things, or the language we use to communicate, these ideas tend to naturally populate our culture.

The workplace is a smaller scale, but it is still a culture nonetheless and is sensitive to the effects of sentiments that can affect productivity and employee satisfaction.

In leadership roles, it’s important to weed out the negative stems at the roots and plant success with the right seeds in the hiring process.