How to Improve Company Culture: 5 Easy Ways [Ebook]
If things seem to be okay in your organization, why should you bother learning how to improve your company culture?
For one thing, even the best company cultures still have room for improvement. And building a stronger, more vibrant culture will pay dividends for your organization and everyone in it, as you’ll see below. So, don’t miss out! Whether you want to take your culture from good to great or need to fix a broken culture, we’ll explain five key steps that can help.
What Is Company Culture?
You might say that company culture is the personality of an organization.
Company culture is a shared set of workplace beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, purposes, and behaviors. It reflects both the written and unwritten rules that people in an organization follow. Your organization’s culture is the sum of all that you and your colleagues think, say, and do as you work together.
Why Company Culture Is Important
Company culture is the foundation of every business. When employees’ needs and goals align with their company culture, they’re more likely to enjoy their work. This can make employees feel like they’re at the coolest party in town: they love where they are, they’re surrounded by great people who do interesting things, and they don’t want to leave. A strong culture indicates that the people are the priority in the company—not the output or revenue that it generates.
The potential business benefits of a strong culture don’t end there. They also include:
- Higher engagement and productivity – When employees are happy, they become more engaged with their work, and higher engagement brings more productivity. In a Gallup analysis, companies with high-level engagement are 21 percent more productive than businesses with lower-level engagement.
- Greater creativity and innovation – Engaged and productive employees feel inspired to bring innovative ideas to the table. Companies centered on innovation and creativity can have a competitive advantage in the industry with higher quality services and products.
- Improved morale – Happy employees who are part of a strong company culture that supports and values them feel more motivated to do their best work, even when they face challenges.
- Greater ability to attract top talent – Company culture plays a large role in attracting top talent. As candidates conduct research on your organization, if they feel that your company has strong values and encourages growth, they will be excited to apply.
- Higher retention – When you show your employees that you care about them, they’ll feel more valued and committed to your organization. Your people will want to stick around for the long run. After all, engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization. This also means lower recruiting and training costs associated with turnover.
- Increase in revenue and profits – Engaged employees are often more invested in providing excellent customer service for clients, which can reel in higher returns. According to the same Gallup findings above, companies with high levels of engagement outperform lower-level organizations in profitability by 22 percent.
It’s widely acknowledged that culture can have an enormous impact on business outcomes. In a recent culture survey conducted by BambooHR, an overwhelming 94 percent of respondents agreed that culture is related to their organization’s success.
What Makes Good Company Culture?
So with the numerous long-term benefits that company culture can provide, what actually makes a good culture? We’ve created a definitive guide to company culture to address this question more comprehensively. For now, here are some of the main indicators we’ve identified:
- Employees are encouraged to understand the mission and values of the organization. Sometimes, we’re so ingrained in the day-to-day tasks that we fail to understand the bigger picture. This is where engagement and productivity can begin to decline. But when employees understand how their role pertains to the mission and values of the company, they are more dedicated to accomplishing its goals.
- Trust between management and employees is prioritized. Great ideas and decisions can come from anyone. Key decisions shouldn’t simply come from the executive team—they should be opened to all levels of staff. Employees want to be heard and have a meaningful impact on the organization.
- Employees are motivated by a team-oriented structure. A company driven by self-interest goes nowhere. Working together as a team leads to success and longevity. You should encourage collaboration and teamwork in your organization, so everyone is pulling together.
- Employers invest in their employees for the long run. A low turnover rate is a strong indicator of a good culture. Not only are employees happy, but they feel valued and are invested along with the organization in long-term growth.
Have You Identified Your Company Culture?
You may think that you first need to learn how to establish your company culture before you can improve it. Some organizations believe they don’t have a company culture because they haven’t done anything to create one. But unless today is your first day in business, your culture is already there. That’s because every firm develops a company culture whether they realize it or not. Even if you do nothing, culture forms and evolves on its own.
The trouble is, an unguided, unstructured culture may do more harm than good. There may be a serious disconnect between your organization’s mission, values, and vision and what its employees and leaders actually do. That’s a telltale sign of a dysfunctional company culture. And that’s why it’s so important to learn how to build company culture in positive ways that align your organization’s ideals and goals with everyone’s behaviors.
5 Steps to Improve Your Company Culture
Developing a better company culture doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five simple steps to consider.
1. Find people who fit.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a position is 42 days. Imagine spending all that time and money only to find that your new hire isn’t working out.
To help prevent this, hire people who not only have the needed job skills but who also share your organization’s vision and values and will fortify them with fresh perspectives. Help candidates get to know your company culture during the application process so both you and the applicants will have a better idea of whether they would be a good fit.
Avoid the common mistake of hiring people who all think in similar ways. That might seem like an easy way to have a unified culture, but instead, it limits the healthy differences in experience, background, and perspective that strengthen organizations and their culture.
2. Integrate your values into everyday activities.
Ideally, your culture should be the showplace where your values come to life and prove their worth. But BambooHR CEO Ben Peterson puts it more frankly, saying, “The values you define for your organization will mean nothing if you don’t intertwine them into everyday work.”
Ways to integrate your values can be found almost everywhere in your organization. You can, for instance:
- Teach your values and their significance to each new employee during onboarding
- Stress the importance of your values during company meetings and in company communications
- Make sure your external messaging (marketing, social media, etc.) reflects the same values so your branding is consistent
- Make values-based decisions when choosing company initiatives
- Use your values to guide performance management and help underperforming employees improve
3. Foster more feedback.
Both your employees and your organization can benefit from a company culture that encourages more and better feedback. Here are solutions to two common feedback issues:
First, to help staff members progress, many organizations still primarily rely on annual performance reviews that aren’t very accurate, timely, or helpful. The right performance management software replaces this with a constant channel of communication that’s more meaningful and simpler to administer.
Second, many organizations don’t know what their employees really think of them, leaving leaders in the dark as they make decisions about culture initiatives. Simple email surveys can reveal what employees like and don’t like so you can shape your culture in ways that increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover.
4. Keep up with changes.
The business world continues to change at a dizzying speed. New industries rise. New processes disrupt traditional ways of doing things. New generations of employees and customers bring different expectations to the workplace and marketplace. No organization is exempt from the effects of change, so in order to keep up, your company culture must change too.
The best way to prepare your culture to adapt to changes is by basing it on timeless best principles, instead of locking it into rigid best practices that often become obsolete. In another article by BambooHR’s Ben Peterson, he dives deeper into the why and how of evolving your organization and its culture to keep up with the times.
5. Learn how to change company culture that’s broken.
Despite best efforts, just about every organization will face times when something about their culture isn’t working. Don’t think of these issues as failures, but as opportunities to improve. Harvard Business Review tells how to change company culture using four key practices:
- Articulate the aspiration. Analyze the issues in your current culture and define the kind of culture you want.
- Select and develop leaders who align with the target culture. Their support, strategizing skills, and ability to implement changes will be critical to success.
- Use organizational conversations about culture to underscore the importance of change. Just as culture is everywhere in an organization, frequent and open dialogue about culture changes must be too.
- Reinforce the desired change through organizational design. Align your organization’s structures, systems, and processes to support the improved culture you’re developing.
Keep On Improving
There is much more to know about how to improve company culture. That’s why BambooHR created our ebook The Definitive Guide to Company Culture. As you read it, you’ll learn:
- How culture can help you achieve your business goals
- More tips and techniques to strengthen your culture
- What type of company culture you have
- Important findings from the BambooHR culture survey
- And more
Our ebook is yours for the asking and absolutely free. Why not take a moment and download it now? We also have a virtual version of our ebook right here if you’d prefer to view it online.
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Kent Peterson is a writer at BambooHR. He has also created award-winning work in radio and television.