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10 Ways to Improve Culture in the Workplace

Whether you already have a strong workplace culture and are simply looking for ways to make it even better, or you’ve identified issues and are trying to find ways to change your company culture, the ideas below can help you achieve your goals.

1. Be Intentional About Company Culture

Every workplace has a culture. Some are positive and productive with happy employees. Others are toxic. And there are plenty somewhere in the middle. To shape your company’s culture, you have to make it a priority.

If you’re truly serious about workplace culture, it should be just as much of a focus as things like product development and services. Don’t let your company culture happen. Actively work to create the type of workplace culture you desire.

2. Understand the Difference Between Perks & Culture

Having ping-pong tables, allowing pets at work, and having team lunches are perks. Perks aren’t a bad thing, and they can have an impact on culture. For example, thriving company cultures are often made up of employees that enjoy being around one another, and team lunches or company events can help foster that.

But don’t think that perks are culture. If employees describe company culture as having a relaxed dress code or a ping-pong table, there likely isn’t a strong culture in place, and it’s even possible that the company is trying to mask problems with perks. Company culture is about beliefs and behaviors, not perks.

3. Commit to a Shared Mission & Purpose

This is one of the most important characteristics of a high-performing culture and something that companies with the best culture have in common. By establishing a clear purpose for your company, you ensure the entire organization is pulling in the same direction to achieve the same thing.

This isn’t sales or revenue goals. This should be something that gives the company a purpose larger than making money and should typically be customer-oriented. Take Warby Parker for example:

“Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.”

Warby Parker decided that glasses were too expensive. They wanted to change the process and provide high-quality, fashionable glasses for much cheaper. That’s a great vision on its own. It provides the company and its employees with a purpose. Add in their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair initiative and their status as a B Corporation, and you can see that they live up to the company’s initial mission and purpose.

4. Hire Based on Culture

Can an employee change company culture? You bet. Hiring the right or wrong employee can have a major impact. That’s why companies with strong, thriving cultures make cultural fit a large factor in their hiring decisions.

Take a company like Zappos, which is known for it’s incredible culture. Zappos starts their process with a culture fit interview that largely influences if a candidate is hired or not. For a workplace culture to thrive, the employees have to believe in it and live it.

5. Make Feedback a Constant

Companies that are committed to feedback often have stronger cultures. And that feedback should go in all directions. As is discussed here, feedback can boost self-esteem, provide a feeling of belonging and purpose, it increases growth and happiness, it promotes change and innovation, and prevents employees from getting stuck.

Ultimately, what open and constructive feedback does is foster better communication, which is critical for a thriving workplace culture. If feedback is infrequent at your organization, consider implementing weekly one-on-one meetings between managers and employees as a start. Even by just doing this, feedback could very much become more natural going forward.

6. Listen & Act Quickly

It’s one thing to encourage feedback, but it’s another to act on it. When employees share things that they enjoy about work or that help them to be successful, make sure those things continue or get stronger.

When employees share roadblocks or other negative experiences, address them. Feedback and communication are great, but if employees eventually feel like what they’re sharing doesn’t matter, they’ll stop.

7. Choose Your Words Carefully

The leadership of a company needs to be very aware and selective about the way they communicate with employees and the words they use to get important messages across. This post is a great example of how an email about policy change can be done poorly and also the right way to get this message across.

One email is very abrupt, makes employees feel like they have no say, and will cause frustration for employees who will feel like the company is taking away something they enjoy. The other conveys the issue and how it’s impacting the company, shows understanding that this might be an inconvenience, frames the solution as a way to get better, and states that management is open to feedback.

Though emails like this go out all the time without much thought, the way these types of messages are conveyed absolutely plays a role in shaping a company’s culture. If a collaborative culture full of happy people is your goal, make sure you send the second email and train management and HR to do the same.

8. Celebrate Wins

This idea applies to both personal and company achievements. If the company finishes up a major project or reaches a major goal, celebrate it! Take the time to recognize and enjoy your success. Likewise, as individuals excel, take the time to recognize their growth and achievements as well.

Thriving workplace cultures include everyone working together to achieve the same thing. By recognizing the achievements along the way, you keep everyone engaged. Plus, who doesn’t like being recognized for their work?

9. Hold Managers to a High Standard

When managers don’t embody the type of culture you hope to achieve, it’s highly unlikely that their team will either. So holding mangers to a high standard is necessary. This means that feedback for managers should go beyond performance to discuss how the manager and their team are contributing to the company’s culture.

And just as hiring should strongly take into account cultural fit, so should any decisions that involve making someone a manager. If an employee is incredibly talented, but won’t lead the team in a way that will embody the company’s culture, they’re probably not the right fit.

10. Invest in Employee Wellness

Having a healthy company culture involves having happy, healthy employees. In addition to the various benefits for employers, such as top talent acquisition, reduced absenteeism and more productive employees, the right employee wellness initiatives can improve culture and morale.

The great part about investing in employee wellness is that you can tailor an initiative to meet your employees’ and organizations’ unique needs. If being an employer of choice is a goal for your organization, innovative wellness offerings that make employees feel cared for and provide them with exciting wellness resources can be a huge differentiator. If employees seem stressed, a strategic wellness initiative is the perfect vehicle for addressing issues of stress and mental health. In one way or another, employee wellness can help you to strengthen your workplace culture for current and future employees.

The importance of company culture can’t be overstated. As you look to build a strong workplace culture, use the ideas above to guide you, and make sure that you never let culture just happen. Strong cultures require nurturing, but are completely worth the investment.