he term “company culture” may sound vague and mysterious, and if your business has only a handful of employees, you may even wonder whether company culture is relevant at all. But no matter the size of your business or your industry, as a business owner, you need to regularly consider how you contribute to your business’s culture. After all, having a positive work environment helps with employee engagement, increasing their morale and ultimately improving your business as a whole.
Think about it: good pay can only take you so far. Suppose the overall employee experience is one where they feel undervalued or uncomfortable when going to work. In that case, workers will pack up and leave the company sooner than those who feel empowered. This loss could decrease retention and your ability to recruit top talent. In other words, your goal should be to aim for great company culture. Let’s take a look at how you can increase your chances of doing so.
What is Company Culture?
Company or workplace culture is a set of core values and guiding principles which help you define your business’ personality, such as the way it engages with employees, customers, and the industry as a whole. Think of it as how everyone in the company behaves, thinks, and believes as they all work together.
When a workplace culture is strong, everyone works well together, has high employee engagement, and is more likely to be high-performing and productive. Your company is also more likely to be an excellent cultural fit for a wide range of people.
What a Healthy Workplace Culture Looks Like
A telltale sign of strong company culture is one where everyone, including leaders and team members, understands the company’s mission and vision. This understanding reminds everyone of the overall values and goals and helps them see the reasons for doing what they’re doing, increasing job satisfaction.
A healthy workplace also requires trust, especially between management and employees, no matter the hierarchy structure. Building trust involves where and how employers invest in their staff in the long-term — doing so helps employees feel valued.
How to Build a Healthy Company Culture
Keep in mind you won’t be able to implement all of the following tips overnight. To ensure long-term success, carefully consider how you will break them down into actionable steps.
1. Make Sure Leaders are On Board
It doesn’t matter if you come up with significant initiatives or policies for your company; if leaders disagree with any of them — especially with carrying out company values and the mission statement — it will be hard to get everyone else on board.
Since leaders set the tone within the organization, they need to behave in a way that positively impacts the work environment and ensures everyone has a voice.
2. Prioritize Employees’ Wellbeing
How you communicate with your employees can directly affect their overall well-being. Issues may include toxic behavior from co-workers, unfair practices, and mental health concerns.
In an unhealthy work environment, employees feel unsafe expressing their concerns. Employees feeling insecure about sharing their worries can negatively impact the company due to a lack of positive relations between employees and leaders. Employees also may not feel safe if they feel their voice is of importance.
Prioritizing your employees’ overall wellness means encouraging them to speak up and even implementing or providing access to programs where they can seek help. For instance, it could mean hiring mental health professionals to help leaders and HR managers to see signs of mental health challenges within their employees.
It could also mean making sure employees take their paid time off, regularly reviewing workload to prevent burnout, and periodically investing in resources to promote well-being for everyone in the company.
3. Be Transparent
Being open about workplace practices, core values, and management tactics will earn you credibility with your employees and customers. Open communication will motivate everyone around you to work towards core values, helping your company increase its reputation.
You can increase transparency by finding effective ways to communicate company-wide news, policies, and other factors like progress on company goals. For example, leadership at Novo shares important company news through multiple channels. An all-hands meeting every month updates the whole team on important metrics, current objectives, and future goals. Every quarter, leadership also shares company-wide Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), to inform.
4. Provide Constructive and Timely Feedback
Employees want to know how they’re doing, such as what they’re doing well and what they can improve. A consistent, effective feedback system shows that your company truly cares about employees and their professional growth. Plus, they can use the feedback to do their best work and know that they will positively influence company growth.
Consider implementing a transparent feedback process at the end of each project, when the company reaches certain milestones, or when asking for employee feedback each month.
5. Provide Opportunities for Learning and Growth
If you want your employees to do well, it’s not enough to give them constructive feedback — they also must have the opportunity to grow professionally. Employees often see these opportunities as perks. These perks will help increase employee performance and make the hiring process easier for HR professionals as the job description will be more enticing.
Relevant training and development programs become essential here. Having a clear idea of how your employees can keep up with their work and improve upon existing skills will show them that you care about them professionally, even beyond working at your company. Plus, these programs offer you a chance to show your employees the potential for their growth within the company, including future promotions.
When determining what types of learning opportunities to provide, take a look at your company goals. You can start by providing subscription services and then move onto more involved offerings like off-site training if you see the need for them.
6. Regularly Recognize Contributions and Positive Behavior
In addition to providing feedback, it’s important to publicly acknowledge what and how your employees contribute to the company. An employee recognition program is a start as it can encourage everyone — not just management — to recognize successes and to help boost morale.
Consider giving shoutouts in weekly or monthly announcements, giving gifts or swag, or some other form of recognition for your employees.
7. Regularly Revisit Your Company’s Core Values
For your company's core values to be of use, everyone needs to revisit them regularly so that you can ensure your company’s behaviors and policies consistently follow these documents. Otherwise, you may stray away from them and risk diluting the positive company culture you’ve worked hard to cultivate.
In addition to revisiting your company’s core values regularly, ensure your employees understand their meaning and the purpose they serve. They should be easily accessible, for example, on your company's website and email signatures.
The bottom line is that fostering a healthy work culture is ongoing, and it evolves with time as your business grows. If you continue to improve upon the company culture you've begun to build while listening to and incorporating feedback from your employees, you can be confident you’re headed in the right direction.