Workplace culture is hard to define, but it’s vital to any business’s success. A strong company culture results in more engaged and productive employees who stick around for longer. In fact, a Gallup analysis found that companies with highly engaged employees see 21% greater profitability.
Here are a few important steps to take if you’re looking to improve your workplace culture.
Define the Culture You Want
How do you define workplace culture? The term means different things to different people. Some companies build their culture around employee morale, offering great benefits, programs, and perks. Some companies focus on uniting everyone behind certain common values, such as environmental sustainability or outstanding customer service. Other companies view culture as more of a social atmosphere that results from the way people interact and collaborate with each other at work.
Think about what workplace culture means to you and how it is currently manifesting in your company. Then you can start identifying specific changes you’d like to achieve. Start by defining where you are and where you want to go (as well as where you don’t want to go).
- Assess your current workplace culture: Where are you now? What is working and what isn’t?
- Define what you want: What does your goal look like? What specific changes would you like to implement?
- Define what you don’t want: What attitudes and behaviors do you want to avoid? What aspects of your current culture need to change?
For example, a company might realize that its high employee turnover is the result of employees not feeling invested in the organization. This company may want to improve employee engagement and loyalty, and avoid having an office full of people who don’t enjoy coming to work and spend much of the day waiting for the clock to hit 5:00 p.m.
How to Change Workplace Culture
Once you define where you want to go, the next question is how to get there. Seeing a real improvement in workplace culture typically involves making changes at two different levels:
- Changes in policy
- Changes in people
Changes in Policy
It isn’t always necessary to change company policies, but it’s extremely helpful in many cases. Rules, programs, benefits, routines, and traditions can have a big impact on everyone’s sense of responsibility and connection to the company.
In a recent Forbes article, contributor Alan Kohll explained how a health food restaurant called Sweetgreen created an exceptionally positive work environment through initiatives like:
- Providing emergency financial support for employees who need it, funded by voluntary paycheck deductions from corporate employees
- Giving handwritten thank you notes to employees who made a positive impact on customers
- Providing opportunities for employees to get involved with charitable organizations in their community
Changes in People
A real and lasting culture change needs to start with leadership. Leaders not only implement policy changes, but they also lead by example when they exhibit the behaviors and attitudes you want to encourage. Leaders are also largely responsible for making sure that those who work for them feel valued, appreciated, and listened to.
An important but often overlooked aspect of workplace culture is a sense of purpose. Employees feel more connected and enthusiastic about their jobs and the company when they feel their work is making a true positive difference. Make sure all employees can see how their contribution is meaningful to the company, its customers, and the community.
That’s another reason why it’s so important to have leaders who can communicate company goals to employees and make sure everyone understands their role in helping to reach those goals.
Actively improving workplace culture leads to happier people, lower employee turnover, and a more successful business.
The benefits of a positive work environment are undeniable, but making lasting changes to your workplace culture takes up time and resources. For small and medium-sized businesses with no internal HR department, it can be helpful to work with an experienced HR firm to help you identify and enact positive culture changes.
At Rush Recruiting & HR, we offer a wide variety of HR services to help you implement HR changes, hire the right people, set goals and expectations for employees, and more. Call us at (503) 481-1285 to get started.