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Nurturing Workplace Culture

68-1Hire people who fit corporate values.

Nature or nurture?

It’s a question that comes up a lot when talking about how humans grow into the people they are – and depending on who you talk to, the answer is usually somewhere in the range of 50-50 – you’re born with some things, your environment gives you some others.

The question is less often applied to organizations, though, and that’s something Ann Kaplan, CEO of iFinance, would like to change.

Kaplan believes work environments can be nurtured every bit as much as human personality, and a nurtured workplace better serves both employers and their employees.

“You could state that a spiritual organization, if you define spirituality not as religion but as a positive culture, would lead to committed employees; and a very negative workplace would be not a very positive environment to work in …,” said Kaplan, whose company provides loans to people who are unable to borrow through traditional channels.

Kaplan says she insists that employees not come to her with gossip about each other.

If there are legitimate, actionable complaints, she’ll listen, but gossip, spiteful or otherwise, is not welcome in her office.

“You go into a coffee shop and someone is very disinterested in helping you, that wouldn’t be a very positive culture. If you go into a place, for a simple example, where you feel you’re part of the whole experience, that’s a positive culture, and people are proud to work there, even if it’s short-term.”

There are several important components to a nurtured workplace: conscious hiring practices and a firm values statement among them.

In Kaplan’s organization, she says, every employee has a copy of the corporate values statement by his or her desk – and that statement doesn’t put a value on making money.

“Our No. 1 priority isn’t putting loans through or putting processes through, it’s treating people with respect,” says Kaplan.