Improving company culture has quickly become a non-negotiable for modern leaders at growth-focused organizations - 90 percent of executives believe culture is important, and only 15 percent think their culture is where it needs to be.
In these competitive times, having a great product, process or game plan isn’t enough. What’s at the heart of your business? Your people. And its company culture that drives people engagement and productivity.
So what can you do to improve your organizational culture? Below we’ve compiled the top 5 tips, covering everything from values alignment and feedback to flexible workspaces and team success.
Align Company Culture with Company Values
Your company’s values are the guiding principles by which your people should operate.
Holly Lebowtiz Rossi at Fortune gave an insightful rundown of great value statements ‘that play an active role in business practice and foster confidence and happiness in the employees who work with the values every day.’
Defining your core values is at the heart of employer branding, and would be a whole article in itself. For now, we’ll assume you’ve got these tenets in place – how do you link them to the everyday culture of your workplace?
You need to break them down into their impact at the employee level. Are you offering rapid turnaround projects focused on short term outcomes? Give your employees what they need to work efficiently and reward them for the daily milestones they have to achieve.
Or maybe your organization operates in a slow moving industry with advantages in level-headed, blue sky thinking – in this case, can you tweak the environment to ensure that they are in the right frame of mind?
Equally, if you’re a bunch of alternative, creative types who will work best bouncing ideas off each other, have a company culture that facilitates this: promote collaborative efforts and have sociable breakout spaces.
Regardless of a company’s values, modern employees see flexibility as one of the biggest factors affecting their experience at work, driving retention, engagement and productivity.
Regus reports a 70% increase in productivity for companies that have moved to flexible working practices. It doesn’t have to mean letting employees rock up at 11am every day when your clients are expecting a call at half past 8, but it might make sense to incorporate whatever changes your business model allows.
If you can offer opportunities to work remotely, consider options of part-time roles or job sharing, or offer sabbaticals for dedicated workers who need a break, you will reap the rewards of a more highly-motivated workforce.
The more options you can provide; the more likely you find arrangements that will benefit employee well-being and support overall employee engagement.
Be Clear and Transparent
A company’s direction comes from the top, but the momentum to get there is all about the efforts of your employees.
As such, it’s crucial to be clear in the messages you’re sending out from the highest level, and have a company culture where this information is valued, discussed, and understood. The first opportunity to do this is during the employee onboarding process.
Share everything you can that might add value and help people become part of the tribe - make sure they can leverage institutional knowledge and resources as soon as possible.
Listen to Employee Feedback
So you have your values, you’ve communicated them clearly and shown where they come from…what’s next? You need to listen to the thoughts of your colleagues and take into account their suggestions.
Regular, timely and constructive feedback is the best way to improve performance, whether that’s the performance of your employees or of your company as a whole.
Ensure your organizational culture allows everyone to feel comfortable giving both positive and constructive feedback.
You can implement this in a number of ways beyond the traditional, anonymous suggestion box, like transparent flowcharts, feedback coaches and the all-important follow up meeting where you actually show how you’ve handled their ideas.
Embrace Success as a Team Sport
If you celebrate successes as a team, you are better placed to tackle challenges as a team.
Engaged employees who feel a part of a high-performing team are 21% more productive. Sharing responsibility and recognition for company accomplishments will empower employees to help others, all for the good of the organization.
The change here is primarily a mental shift, but you may need also to change the structure of how you collaborate and reward efforts.
Any technology or software that encourages collaboration and offers team buy-in for activities from brainstorming sessions to welcoming new starters can help foster this culture.
How You Can Take These Tips On Board
Building a great company culture doesn’t happen overnight, and 87% of organizations cite culture and employee engagement as their top challenges.
But you can take the first steps towards a better employee environment by simply talking openly with employees. All of these tips - values, flexibility, transparency, feedback and team success - start with a conversation.
Even a small shift in mentality can make a big difference in achieving a company culture that drives real employee engagement and general employee experience success.
Photo by Adam Przewoski
Guest Contributor: Andy Crebar
Andy Crebar is a Co-Founder of Sapling, which helps companies use Employee Onboarding to amplify their total Employee Experience (‘EX’). He is passionate about people, self awareness and self improvement.