Here are steps you can take to understand and recognize company culture — and improve it at your workplace.
Company culture is one of the biggest influences on employee satisfaction and talent retention. That is why employers should invest time and effort in improving it.
What is company culture and why does it matter?
Almost everyone has heard the term “company culture” thrown around. You might have also heard it called “corporate culture,” “workplace culture,” or “organizational culture”. But not everyone has a clear understanding of what it actually means.
Simply put, company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of an organization and the people who work for it. It is visible in the way an organization’s employees interact with each other, the managers’ leadership style, and the values and ethics of every person in the company.
In other words, your company culture is what it feels like to work there. So, if you have a positive workplace culture, people will enjoy working for you. A negative culture will have your employees dreading going to work.
Hopefully, once you understand the meaning of company culture, you can see why it’s so important. You want to retain your talent and have a positive and productive atmosphere.
If you have a positive workplace culture, people will enjoy working for you. A negative culture will have your employees dreading going to work.
How to recognize “bad” company culture
What if your workplace currently has a bad culture? How would you know? There are a few clear signs that the culture of your organization is counterproductive and hurting employee morale.
First, if there is a prevailing sense that your business’s leadership is not open to feedback, that connotes a negative cultural setting. If this is the case for your organization, you will probably notice that employees don’t often offer their opinions, and they may complain that their expertise is not valued.
It is also a problem if your managers focus only on performance, even at the expense of employee well-being. Are workers encouraged to work long hours on a regular basis? Are they discouraged from taking breaks or using vacation time? These are signs that your workplace culture is not healthy.
But the clearest indicator of a bad company culture is high employee turnover. When your best talent leaves your company to go work somewhere better, it is time to evaluate your organizational culture and make some improvements.
5 ways to improve company culture
If your business is suffering from an unhealthy culture, we’re here to help. Here are our 5 best strategies for improving corporate culture.
1. Define your goals. What do you want your company culture to be?
Once you know what your values are, try to envision what it would look like if they were embedded into the day-to-day workplace culture. For example, if your company values integrity, you might see leaders owning up to mistakes. If your company values collaboration, you might see a lot of interdepartmental teamwork.
2. Evaluate your current culture
Now that you know what your goals are, it’s time to find out if you’re on the right path. Do the employees in your organization embody your company’s values? Does your leadership?
It’s not enough to simply say you have values. You have to live them.
It’s not enough to simply say you have values. You have to live them. So really spend some time observing the way people at your company do business. How much space is there between your reality and your goals?
3. Hire the right people
When you interview potential employees, it is important to assess whether or not they will be a good cultural fit.
Describe your company’s mission, vision, and values to interviewees, and ask them if they can appreciate them. Be clear about the ways in which your values impact your company culture and the daily work environment. Do your employees do a lot of networking with outside colleagues? Do you expect people to speak up at meetings? Is it a quiet office with little activity? Do people tend to socialize a lot? Whatever your culture is like, describe it to potential hires and gauge their reactions.
If you want to encourage a certain type of culture, you need to hire people who fit within that. Your people are the key to shaping your company culture.
4. Be transparent
One of the most important components of a healthy organizational culture is trust. Trust is the foundation upon which all other components of good culture are built. And the best way to foster trust is through transparency.
One of the most important components of a healthy organizational culture is trust. Trust is the foundation upon which all other components of good culture are built.
It is difficult for your employees to trust you if you keep them in the dark about top-down decision-making. In addition, when you don’t share information with your staff, you are communicating that you don’t trust them. You are effectively creating an “Us vs. Them” atmosphere in your company, where employees and managers represent opposing teams.
The solution to this problem is simple. Be completely open and honest about your decision-making process. Communicate about your decisions as well as your decision-making process. Actively encourage employee feedback, and take employee suggestions when appropriate. And never penalize an employee for offering their honest opinion.
5. Frequently reevaluate
Building a company culture is not a one-time activity. It is ongoing. You must constantly reevaluate your activities, your hires, and your work to see if they align with your vision for company culture. If it doesn’t, revisit these steps and see what needs improving.