When the atmosphere within an organisation is negative and the mood of employees is low, this sparks concern regarding the organisations climate.
Organisational climate can be influenced by both internal and external factors. It can change quickly through a single internal incident or event, which can cause a change in atmosphere based on how the event is interpreted by the people within the organisation.
Another internal influencer on climate includes the actions of the organisations leaders. If employees perceive a leader as being unjust or making misguided decisions for example, this can lead to shared perceptions such as disappointment, insecurity or worse.
Climate can also be influenced by external environmental factors, such as a downturn in a market or negativity surrounding an industry. An example of this is the retail sector, where retailers have experienced a drop in foot traffic and sales in recent years. This can influence the ‘vibe’ within stores and drag down the energy of a team.
How the organisation responds to such external influences can determine the impact it has on the internal climate. Positive environmental factors can give climate a lift such as a stimulus or market growth.
Another major factor that can influence organisational climate, is how the employees feel about the culture of the organisation. Culture and climate are not the same thing. Culture is the way the organisation does things, as opposed to how the people within the organisation feel about the way it does them. Culture refers to the values, principals and norms developed over time. If the culture of the organisation isn’t healthy or employees perceive the common behaviours and occurrences as ineffective or inappropriate, the climate will be negatively impacted.
When a climate issue is identified, it is common for team building activities and short term mood boosters to be introduced by leadership. However, there will be little long term impact on the climate without addressing the cultural issues that may be influencing it.
This can include identifying out dated or ineffective systems or values that have become ingrained in the culture. Common patterns of rewarding poor performance, lack of communication, the absence of a strategy or focus to name a few, can all be patterns people within an organisation perceive as negative or unfavourable.
When employees sense a genuine desire for change for good, with a positive culture and effective leadership, environmental influences and occasional incidents may cause a short term glitch in the climate, but the overall atmosphere and its effect on employee motivation behaviour can be minimal.