Company culture develops both organically and purposefully. The truth is that there is not simply one thing that will improve how your employees feel about what they do and who they do it for. We often find that many mechanisms, processes, and activities connected to the employees’ experience at work play a part in how they feel. We also find that the main influence on the employee experience is the company’s culture.
What is company culture, and why does it matter?
According to the Harvard Business Review, company culture expresses an organization’s values and beliefs through shared assumptions and group norms within the workplace. Company culture is a shared belief system where employees have similar values. Company culture can include several elements within the business, including the work environment, company mission statement and core values, management style, and workplace ethics.
According to Forbes contributor, Dr.Pragya Agarwal, behavioural scientist and inclusivity consultant, ‘a positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce.’
Developing company culture is never a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some easy, actionable steps you can take today to improve your company culture, both in the short and long term. Here are five ways to improve company culture that works.
1. Know who you are as a company
If your organization is just starting out, one of the first things to do is establish its mission, values, and vision. This exercise is often overlooked and can slow a company’s progress. If you have an established organization that already did this some time ago, take another look to make sure they are still as relevant and precise as possible. We recommend doing this annually. A company should carefully identify their organization’s reason for existing (mission) and write down the values behind it. Then, they can use their mission and values to establish what the organization’s vision is – what it wants to become or the effect it aspires to have on the community, nation, or world.
At Foothold America our Vision is ‘to be the trusted partner of choice for international companies establishing a foothold in America with services that cut through the complexities of doing business in the US.’
2. Hire for cultural fit
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost per hire is $4,425, while the average time it takes to fill a position is 36 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 also share your organization’s vision and values and will fortify them with fresh perspectives. Remember, cultural fit doesn’t mean a homogeneous group. You want shared values along with diverse points of view and life experiences. 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.
3. Offer Flexibility
Recent experiments on flexibility show that flexibility in the workplace helps to boost employees’ creativity and productivity to do other necessary personal things. Other benefits to offering flexibility are:
- Branded as an employer of choice for prioritizing work-life balance
- The ability for employees to meet personal obligations
- Employee empowerment
- Reduced commuting time and costs
4. Empower & Encourage
When employees feel empowered, they have the confidence to accomplish almost anything. The best way to empower & encourage employees is to:
- Give employees a voice by regularly soliciting and acting on their feedback.
- Provide opportunities for employees to grow with more autonomy, additional responsibilities, or even an entirely new role.
- Recognize employees frequently to increase their engagement and confidence in their own abilities.
- And, of course, provide employees with the tools, training, and authority they need to excel.
At Foothold America, team members give kudos to one another during team meetings and identify which corporate value is exhibited in this accomplishment.
5. Promote Trust
For a company to have a healthy, thriving culture, one of the key components is trust. A recent study by Edelman found that one in three employees don’t trust their employer, while another study by Ernst & Young found that number to be even lower. Only 46% of people had trust in their organization and only 49% in their boss/team. Therefore, some of the key aspects of establishing trust include:
- Demonstrating to employees that their involvement in making business decisions is critical. Invite employees to share their thoughts both during company culture discussions and during day-to-day operations.
- Make sure management’s actions don’t clash with stated values. If the leadership team or other executives are not “walking the walk,” employees will not be inspired to do so either.
- Align everything (department, initiatives, processes, etc.) to support company culture, and remind employees that they are invited to contribute to that culture through collaboration and innovation.
- Remain transparent in all dealings. Build trust with your team by being transparent about everything going on behind the scenes.
- Celebrate the successes of all. Recognize achievements big and small. If the company has a win, let everyone bask in the glory.
To give you an example, here are Foothold America’s corporate values:
- Client Experience
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Corporate Culture
- Social Responsibility
Whether your company is a promising startup or a seasoned success, consider how every new change in your organization could affect your culture—and vice versa.
Observe, evaluate, analyze, strategize, act, and repeat. Keep on improving!