Looking to crack the code of attracting and retaining top talent? Rather than looking outside your organization to find a quick solution, the place to start is inside your company. Is the culture of your organization one where people really want to work? That’s the first question to ask.
Is there a magic fix for building a healthy organizational culture? No, there’s not. Sure, you could subscribe to all the latest apps and offer the trendiest perks, but products and services alone don’t define an organization's culture. They can be great tools and enhancements, but culture is all about the work environment — what it’s really like, from the employees’ point of view.
Culture can be defined as the behaviors, values, attitudes, and systems that determine how things are — and how things get done — in an organization. In other words, culture is what the work environment is really like. And sometimes the reality of a company’s culture doesn’t line up with what management thinks it is (or should be).
Culture is the driving force in company identity, especially from the point of view of the people who work there. Organizational culture isn’t a passing trend — it has always been important. Now, though, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of crafting a culture that truly meets the needs of its employees.
Doesn’t every organization already have a culture? Absolutely. Culture reflects the reality of what it’s like to be part of the organization. The question isn’t whether your company has a culture. Is the culture as it should be? That’s the real question. Why is that so important? Because good employees won’t stay in a company with a bad culture.
Company culture impacts every aspect of a company’s operation, from recruiting to the bottom line — and everything in between.
Employees spend a lot of time at work, so it’s only natural that they care about what the work environment is like.
Customers also care, and they vote with their dollars. Many customers will choose a company that treats its employees well over one that does not.
Do you need to improve company culture for your business? It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require commitment. When you prioritize building a positive company culture, you’ll be on your way to building a work environment that’ll help you attract and keep the talent you need to maintain or gain competitive advantage.
Employee engagement is a sign of a strong culture. Employee engagement is most likely to develop in a workplace where management regularly involves employees in decision-making and empowers them to take ownership of their work. It’s not as likely in cultures where micromanagement is the norm and where management simply dictates decisions made without input from employees.
Workplaces where employee engagement is the norm tend to be the ones that have the highest levels of productivity. When employees know the “why” behind what they’re being asked to do and feel a sense of ownership for the outcome of their work, that’ll have a positive impact on their productivity — both in terms of quantity and quality. And when you increase productivity, it usually means better bottom-line results.
Customers and prospective customers don’t have a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to work for your company, but they sure know what your employees say about it. And what employees say — to friends and family, on social media, on Glassdoor and similar sites — directly impacts your company’s public image and brand identity.
When employees say positive things about what it’s like to work for your company, that’ll give the business a boost (and it’s a great way to build visibility and brand authority). The opposite is true when employees share negative perceptions about what it’s like to work there.
Does it take time to improve the work environment? Yes. Will it interfere with work efficiency? No. The time you spend building a positive employee experience can actually help improve efficiency. For example, when you have a strong culture, chances are that your turnover will decrease. So, you’ll spend less time hiring and training new employees and more time operating with longer-term, skilled employees. Won’t that be great?
Beyond that, when you have engaged employees collaborating together in a workplace environment, you’ll find that they tend to be quite productive and work well together. Not only will they feel a sense of ownership for their goals, but they’ll also be empowered to work together to resolve challenges that might come up — all of which boost efficiency.
Convinced? If you’re ready to commit to improving your company’s culture, you don’t have to make a lot of changes all at once. Instead, it’s best to begin with a few key areas that really define the work environment.
Good communication is the foundation of company culture. Employees want to work in environments where they feel that they truly have a voice. How can managers make this happen? By asking employees what they think and really listening to them — with both empathy and sensitivity.
When your goal is to improve the culture, it can be helpful to implement training on how to improve communication skills in the workplace for managers, as well as employees. The way employees talk (and listen) to each other impacts the work environment, too. It’s important to set the stage for both effective individual and team performance.
The fact that a group of people works together doesn’t mean that they’re really a team. In a strong culture, team members are encouraged to speak up to voice concerns or share ideas in brainstorming sessions and beyond. Team norms should clearly convey that each team member is valued for their unique contributions, and that everyone’s ideas are welcome.
Communication plays an important role in building a strong team, but it’s also important for team members to bond with one another. Team bonding begins with opportunities for team members to get to know each other, whether they’re in-office or work as a remote team. From fun team building ideas to staff retreats, shared experiences can really boost team cohesiveness and lead to stronger teamwork in the future.
The best workplace cultures are the ones where positive feedback is the rule, rather than the exception. Managers and employees alike should get in the habit of sharing positive feedback with each other. For example, take the time to recognize an employee, coworker, or supervisor for something like being reliable or for contributing an idea (whether or not the idea is implemented). It’s amazing how much just saying “thank you” can impact the work environment for the better.
Now, we’re not saying that all feedback has to be positive — if there is a performance issue that needs to be addressed, then the situation calls for constructive feedback focused on improvement. What we are saying is that not all feedback has to be. The work environment can be a lot more positive — and the culture a lot healthier — if people get in the habit of looking for positive behaviors and saying thanks. Start by making sure everyone on your team knows how to give feedback to peers, then set an example by doing so yourself.
The key to building a strong culture lies with building a work environment where people genuinely want to be. Maybe you already have innovative policies in place. That’s great — but are they really being followed? And do employees really value them? And, more importantly, does your organization have the communication, teamwork, and positive feedback that make up the foundation of a positive culture? Management may think so, but — when it comes to culture — employee perspective is what really matters.
Not sure how your employees perceive your culture? Get a sense of how your employees are feeling by using our free employee happiness survey, then review the results to help you decide where to begin. Once you decide to do the work that it takes to improve your company’s culture, you’ll be on your way to improving company performance and building an even more successful business.
Monthly tips on running a business in your inbox.
Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.
Scale your business and build your team — no matter which way it grows. Access the tools, perks, and resources to help you stay compliant and grow in all 50 states.