9 Tips to Improve Your Company CultureAlyssa Lowery
The difference between an employee who enjoys their work and one who dreads it often comes down to one overarching idea: company culture. Company culture refers not to the work employees do — but how they do it and how they interact with colleagues and leaders. It’s the intersection between formal systems, values, and behaviors.
Company culture is sometimes also called corporate culture or workplace culture. It includes your company mission, workplace environment, values, leadership style, expectations, ethics, and more.
As your business grows, your company can drift away from its mission and values. If you’re not intentional about shaping your culture, you may find yourself with low morale and high employee turnover. Culture is vital to your company’s success and it must be actively managed with time and attention.
How to Improve Company Culture
Change won’t happen overnight, but these nine simple tips can help you achieve a company culture your team enjoys — and that you can be proud of.
Define your team’s “why”
People inherently desire work that has meaning and purpose. One study found that 83% of people believe finding meaning in their work is a top priority. Yet, a Gallup survey found that only 23% of employees agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their everyday work.
You can help bring purpose into every employee’s work by creating an overarching “why” statement for your business. Ask yourself why your company exists and how it helps people. Then, show your employees how their specific job functions benefit others and the common goal. Creating a compelling purpose and aligning your brand with this, helps create a compelling sense of purpose. For example, CVS stopped selling tobacco products because it did not align with their purpose. This is a clear example of defining and aligning your company purpose so that you aren’t operating in ways that are outside the mission and values of your company
New emerging evidence suggests that interaction between coworkers may improve employee performance at work. It also makes coworkers feel connected to one another and part of something larger than themselves. In turn, this helps boost retention. It’s a win-win.
Creating community within your team can be as easy as kicking off meetings with an icebreaker question for everyone to answer. You’ll share some laughs and learn about team members’ lives and interests outside of work. You can also plan team-building activities, whether you are working together remotely or in-person. They don’t have to be those dreaded teamwork exercises. Think of engaging activities that get people mingling with one another across departments. Try a book club, trivia, intramural sports teams, happy hours, dinners and more.
Value transparency and communication
Transparency and communication build trust, which is a key element in healthy company cultures. Yet, studies show that 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. This is probably why 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company strategy.
Be open and honest about changes that affect your team and share other important company news. Even if some information doesn’t seem necessary to share, tell employees anyway — as long as it doesn’t breach confidentiality. In the long run, they’ll value being kept informed.
Creating open communication can be tricky, especially if you’re a remote team. However, by choosing easy-to-use instant messaging and video call platforms, you’ll promote healthy conversations. Making leadership accessible for communication, while not always feasible, can also boost employees’ perceptions of transparency.
Eliminate busy work and streamline processes
Busy work causes fatigue and doesn’t offer employees fulfillment. Yes, some tasks like scheduling appointments and creating reports just need to be done. But it’s important to make sure your team isn’t weighed down by endless administrative work.
You want to streamline repetitive and mundane processes as much as possible. The best way to reduce these necessary but unfulfilling tasks is to automate many of these processes. For example, tools such as TimeTap can be an effective way to reduce admin tasks by automating appointment scheduling tasks. They offer easy online booking, 2-way calendar syncing, simple client management, and even payment processing. It’s all in one system to make you, your employees, and the clients you serve happier and less stressed.
Reward and recognize
Employees who don’t feel they’re adequately recognized are twice as likely to quit within the next year. Recognition can come in many forms — from a simple “thank you,” to a bonus, plaque, or written/verbal praise. A poll by Glassdoor found that 81% of employees were motivated to work harder if they felt more appreciation from their boss.
Recognizing your employees can be completely free and have a significant impact on employee turnover rates, yet a Gallup poll found that 65% of employees hadn’t received recognition at work in the last year. One study found that 37% of employees said that recognition was most important to them. Another study found that 63% of employees who feel recognized are unlikely to look for a new job – leading to higher rates of retention.
At the end of the day, rewarded and recognized people are happy employees. Happy employees are more engaged at work, more productive, and more likely to stay.
No one wants to be micromanaged. Everyone wants to feel responsible and trusted. That’s what happens when you provide autonomy for your workers. In fact, 59% of respondents to a survey stated that “flexibility” was more important than salary and other benefits.
You can foster a company culture that values autonomy by allowing employees to lead projects, make decisions, speak up in meetings, and create their own schedules. In 1985, two psychologists developed the self-determination theory. They proposed that entrusting employees with more autonomy would produce a greater degree of satisfaction, fulfillment and engagement at work because they are more in control of the inputs to the process.
As a leader, make sure you refrain from hovering. Yet, managers do play a key role in keeping employees enganged and motivated. A Gallup report found that a manager accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. Trust that you hired competent employees who can get the job done well on their own.
How to establish more autonomy in the workplace
Create working principles instead of policies
When you create a policy, it becomes a rigid rule that is often inflexible. When applied in some situations it becomes more restrictive and hinders optimal performance on a project. Principles capture the spirit of a policy without making it the universal biding force. A principle gives structure for work but allows more freedom within the framework.
Invest in competence
Hire good and competent people who are self-motivated. Highly motivated employees are achievers. A leader only needs to give these individuals good guidelines and solid understanding of the desired outcome. If you are investing in competent staff and giving them autonomy and recognition, these individuals will be motivated to achieve high performance. This will result in less oversight from managers because you know you can trust these individuals to get the work done at the standards you require.
Give staff the tools they need
People need key tools for success. Whether it is a particular software or additional training – give employees the tools they will need for optimal success. There are so many technology tools out there that can help businesses scale. Allowing employees to purchase and access will help them feel empowered.
Investing the growth and development of your talent is important because they contribute directly to company growth. Yet, 74% of surveyed employees feel they aren’t reaching full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities. How do you encourage growth and development within a company? Three simple ways to have a growth-minded company culture include:
Outline career paths
When you onboard a new employee, chat through where they’re headed in their career. Where do they want to be in three, five, and ten years? It’s okay if it’s not still with your company. Knowing the overall career goals your employees have will help you best support them while they’re still with you.
When an employee is doing exceptional work and the opportunity presents itself, promote them. New titles and pay increases show employees you see their efforts and appreciate them. It also lets them know you support the next steps in their careers.
Invest in education
Offer employees courses, seminars, and conferences that benefit their current role. Investing in continuing education will not only bring value to your company but also the people working in it.
People want to be challenged at work. A recent SHRM survey found that 56% of responses ranked “opportunities to use your skills and abilities at work” as very important for their job satisfaction. This means most employees are more satisfied in their work, when they find it is challenging work that best utilizes their skills.
When people are given challenging tasks that require them to use their skils, it allows employees to feel they are contributing, growing and learning. When they complete a difficult project, they get immense satisfaction by recognizing how much they can do. They’ll also come to appreciate you for believing in them to rise to the challenge.
A challenge will look different for each employee. Try giving someone a new task, a problem to solve, or a project their boss may typically work on. Use assesmemtn tools, such as StrengthsFinder to learn about the areas they have the most talent potential.
Today more than ever, workers value flexibility. By providing leniency in work schedules, you can drastically improve your company culture. Promoting flexibility within your company communicates to employees that you understand they have a life outside of the office and you want to honor that.
According to a survey by QuickBooks, 76% of workers believe a flexible work schedule is the best incentive a company can offer — over greater pay or more time off.
Allowing for a flexible work schedule can increase morale and boost productivity. Not everyone does their best work between 9 to 5. Giving employees greater flexibility can look like working remotely, choosing their own hours, offering sabbaticals, and more.
A positive corporate culture will help you retain employees, attract top-tier talent, and sometimes even gain recognition as one of the best places to work. To gauge how your company’s culture is today, send out a survey to employees and offer an incentive for completing it. Take constructive feedback and start implementing strategies accordingly. By rewarding employees, providing autonomy, and allowing flexible work schedules, you can watch your corporate culture transform.
See how TimeTap can help automate tasks and allow staff to focus on other business needs.