Enterprises pay a lot of attention to measurable, attainable goals. You can always hear managers rant about metrics and key performance indicators. And it’s definitely true that tangible results are the biggest indicators of an enterprise’s success.
There are, however, other intangible contributors and indicators, too, which we shouldn’t neglect.
Company culture is one of them. It’s also one of the biggest considerations when it comes to employee satisfaction and talent retention. And this is why businesses should invest time and effort in improving it.
What is company culture and why does it matter?
Technically, corporate cultures are the customs and standards that the members of a company value – outside of business transactions. These belief systems are usually the result of interactions between the employees and management.
But technical definitions aside, what’s most important is that culture is the unseen force that drives your workforce to perform better.
According to a study about “The State of the American Workplace”, engaged employees have significantly higher productivity and better customer ratings. Another study establishes the correlation between employee happiness and increased productivity.
What’s important is that both these studies, along with other ones someone can look for, focus on the intangibles: how employees feel about their company’s mission, commitment to quality, expectations, and empathy.
A great culture equates to happier, more loyal, and more productive employees. So, aside from having strategies that drive key business and profit metrics, creating and improving company culture is definitely one of the things you must do to keep your business going.
5 Ways on How to Improve Corporate Culture
Great company culture leads to overall happier staff. But is there actually a ‘bad culture?’
Yes, there is.
What makes a ‘bad culture’?
Having a culture that isn’t open to feedback is definitely counter-productive. Focusing only on performance also sacrifices employee well being, as it creates a stressful working environment. Lack of empathy for both management and employees and an overall feeling of disdain for collaborative work are also symptoms of an unfavorable culture.
The best indicator of a problematic culture is when your exemplary employees leave your company to go work somewhere better. When this indicator shows up and becomes a problem for your business, then you might want to consider coming up with strategies for improving company culture.
Is this the case in your company? Luckily, we’re here to help you out with a list of 5 ways to improve corporate culture.
1. Transparency is the Key
Employees, especially the top-performers, don’t work for you only because they need the money. They choose to work for your company because they trust you.
And trust is the foundation of a great company culture.
Staff definitely cannot trust a company that always leaves them in the dark when it comes to the direction of the business. Similarly, a company that doesn’t trust its employees is also not helpful for establishing a great culture.
Having a culture that values transparency has a great impact on the business and its employees. And one of the best ways for improving workplace culture is to open communication channels to everyone in the company.
A very simple and cost-effective way of doing this is to leverage communication and collaboration tools, like forums or conferencing tools for remote employees. These are rather helpful when you’re going for a culture that promotes sharing of information and teamwork.
2. Reward in Public, Coach in Private
Another key to improving company culture is to recognize and reward top performers. These rewards and recognition programs don’t have to be extravagant. A simple certificate of recognition or an award would do – of course, bonuses wouldn’t hurt either.
While the benefits of rewarding performers are quite obvious, eg. motivation and the feeling of doing fulfilling work, there is the other side of the equation.
If there are exemplary performers, there are also underperformers. Performance management principles would, of course, call for direct supervisor interventions, like coaching. However, you’ll be surprised to find out that not all line managers are aware that coaching sessions should be done very discreetly.
Nothing will kill employee motivation and company culture faster than getting an employee embarrassed in front of co-workers. Getting berated by a manager, whether in public or private, does nothing but instigate fear on the staff – and this is definitely something you do not want when you’re aiming to build a world-class company culture.
Always make sure that line managers are aware of the proper protocols regarding coaching their staff. Fear never helped establish a great company culture.
3. Make Collaboration the Work Standard
One of the best steps to take when improving company culture is to make everyone comfortable with collaborative work. And when it comes to improving corporate culture, teamwork, having strong relationships at work is one way to make a big impact on employee motivation.
Everyone wants to work with people also driven by the same purpose. Look into implementing mentorship programs, cross-functional projects and team building activities – all of them will help everyone get in-sync in order to attain a much bigger goal.
4. Establish Channels for Employee Feedback
No one wants to be a passenger in a ship that is commandeered by complete strangers. This is the reason why in cruise ships, for example, the officers and staff are always visible, approachable, and open to feedback. Same should go for your business.
Your staff wants to know that they matter in the company. They want to have a say and they want their voices heard. Engaged employees are motivated by having a voice on how the company is run and how they are managed.
Having employee feedback channels like employee surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions will help give you an idea of how your company stands in the eyes of your own employees.
Note that these feedback channels don’t have to be formal. Soliciting feedback can also be done through ‘management by walking around.’ which essentially happens when a manager asks for feedback and insights in an informal manner, like chatting with a colleague or through chit-chat with staff.
You’ll be quite surprised how you can get some brilliant ideas to improve workplace culture by asking employees directly. Who knows? Maybe your company’s next big product or competitive advantage can come from small talk along the hallway.
5. Stick to Your Core Values
The most reliable way to judge a person’s disposition is to see if words and actions go together. Integrity is a great measure of a person’s character, and it is what should define your company too.
Does your company ‘walk the talk?’ Or is everything written on your website and posted on company walls just lip service?
When you’re in the process of improving company culture, you need to stick to your company’s core values. Even if you’re trying to push for culture change in the workplace, your core values are the ones that should always stay constant. After all, these are what separates you from ‘everyone else’ and are your competitive advantages.
If you value transparency, you need to ensure that you have systems in place to help you attain a transparent culture. Same goes with rewarding hard work, teamwork, and being open to feedback. The best way to establish a great company culture is to have everyone embody your core values.
‘Tangibles’ like business results and ‘intangibles’ like company culture don’t have to exist on separate planes. Even if both are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, you can still come up with processes that can address both.
Always remember, though, that the ultimate goal is to fulfill the organization’s mission and vision, but also keeping your employees happy in a ‘safe’, positive environment.