Positive Work Culture: 6 Strategies That Get Results

To build a positive work culture, define your company’s goals, take stock, hire good people, be transparent, use good tools and re-evaluate regularly.

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Culture plays a critical role in a company’s success

Positive work culture is at the core of employee satisfaction and talent retention. According to a 2018 survey by JobSeekerNation, the majority of job seekers cite culture as at least of relative importance in applying to a company — and 46% claim it’s very important. 

Employers looking to attract and retain talent should emphasize building a positive workplace culture in which employees feel valued, heard, and respected. In this article, we’ll give 6 helpful tips on how you can cultivate that kind of positive work culture at your company. Let’s get started!

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 core 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. They will also have an overall positive feeling when engaging with others in the workplace. A negative culture will have your employees dreading going to work.

if you have a positive workplace culture, people will enjoy working for you. They will also have an overall positive feeling when engaging with others in the workplace.

Hopefully, once you understand the meaning of company culture, you can see why it’s so important. Your main goal should be retaining your talent and creating a positive and productive atmosphere.

This isn’t just HR jargon. Positive cultures are quickly becoming the cornerstone of a company’s success. A 2019 survey by recruiting and hiring platform Glassdoor turned up some interesting results.

  • When searching for a new job, 77% of respondents said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.
  • American millennials are more likely to care about work culture over salary (65%) than those 45 and older (52%). 
  • 89% of adults polled told researchers that it was important for employers to “have a clear mission and purpose.”

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 your organization’s culture is counterproductive and contributes to low employee morale.

First, a prevailing sense that your business’s leadership is not open to feedback indicates a negative cultural setting. If this is the case for your organization, you will probably notice that employees don’t often offer their opinions. They might even complain that their expertise is not valued, which is a sign that you have a culture of disengaged employees.

It is also a problem if your managers focus only on performance, even at the expense of employee well-being. Are employees encouraged to work long hours on a regular basis? Are they discouraged from taking breaks or using vacation time? These are signs that you don’t have a positive work environment. Work-life balance is something the modern employee has learned to value.

But the clearest indicator of a toxic culture is high employee turnover. When your best talent leaves your company to work somewhere better, it is time to evaluate your organizational culture and make some improvements.

6 ways to improve and build a positive work culture

If your business is suffering from an unhealthy culture, we’re here to help. Here are our 5 best strategies for moving forward and improving corporate culture.

1. Define your goals. What do you want your company culture to be?

This goes along with developing your company mission, vision, and values. Why do you do the work that you do? What do you believe in? How do you want your company to grow and evolve?

Once you know your values, envision them 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

It’s not enough to simply say you have values. You have to live them.

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. 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 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. To promote diversity, you need a range of opinions, backgrounds, and work styles. This helps to create a positive sense of inclusivity and engaging work culture. While you may be different as people, an underlying understanding and commitment to a company’s mission and values can help everyone stay focused and propel the company forward

4. Be transparent about your workplace culture

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.

It is difficult for your employees to trust you if you keep them in the dark because of 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, 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 the way you make them. Actively encourage employee feedback, and take employee suggestions when appropriate. And never penalize an employee for offering their honest opinion.

5. Use tools that help create a positive work culture

Lots of software tools offer solutions for companies looking to create a positive workplace culture. Here are a couple of suggestions: 

  • Culture Amp: If you want to use employee engagement to your advantage in building a positive culture, Culture Amp is one of the few platforms out there tracking and tackling culture initiatives. It allows you to survey your team and then offer data-driven actions in response to the results. Knowing what your employees want and need puts you in the driver’s seat of your company’s culture so that you can focus on alignment.
  • Slack: When you start growing in numbers, consider doing AMAs (ask me anything) at all-hands meetings or via Slack in order to make sure that all your employees know where the company is headed and have the opportunity to voice feedback and questions. 
  • Dropbox, Google Drive: Tools like Dropbox and Google Drive make it easy for employees to put all their shared docs in one place. You can put all your relevant company information in a single folder and encourage employees to read it on their own time. Tools like these can also encourage collaboration, which may be one of your company’s core values.

6. Frequently reevaluate your workplace culture.

Building a company culture is not a one-time activity. It is ongoing. You must constantly reevaluate your work, activities, and hires to see if they align with your vision for company culture. If it doesn’t, revisit these steps and see what needs improving.

Ready to create a positive work culture?

In a positive workplace, active, engaged employees are the key to an organization’s success. However, workplace cultures aren’t built overnight. It takes plenty of time and effort to cultivate a solidified sense of community within a workplace. But it’s well worth the journey as it’ll ultimately lead to happier employees and greater business success. 

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