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How to Build a High-Performing Culture

A strong company culture can attract top talent, improve employee retention, and more. It’s no wonder why businesses are looking for ways to improve their company cultures. Most importantly, though, company culture can result in a more productive work environment in which a company and all of its employees are working cohesively toward the same goals. Learn more about the qualities of a high-performance culture and building a high-performing culture below.

Characteristics of a High-Performance Culture

A Shared Vision & Mission

A high-performing culture starts here. Everyone in an organization should have a very clear understanding of what it is that they’re trying to achieve together. Many companies have problems with this. Teams often have their own goals that don’t align with other teams’ goals. Sometimes, teams are even measured by arbitrary goals that don’t really have any impact on the company’s ultimate goals. In the worst-case scenario, teams compete against each other for the same customers.

If a company doesn’t align all teams to focus on achieving the same thing, a high-performance culture isn’t happening. Eliminating these old lines of thinking from an organization can be a challenge, but it should be a top priority to remove any barriers and identify the shared vision that the company is working toward.

Empowered Employees

To achieve a high-performing culture, everyone has to be on the same page and contributing to the cause. So empowering employees is absolutely critical. Some ways to empower your employees include:

  • Give employees the ability to make decisions and the freedom to fail. Empowering your employees to have an impact and not be looking over their shoulder or fearing repercussion is essential for a high-performing culture. This requires leadership to be willing to delegate more than just work. They have to be willing to give their employees authority over projects at times as well.
  • Require personal accountability. When employees are given more trust and influence, they also need to take responsibility for the results, good or bad. This doesn’t mean that failing to meet a deadline or an unsuccessful project should result in punishment, though. It just means that the individual needs to recognize the end result and their role in that result, then collaborate with their manager to find a way to improve on it the next time.
  • Encourage and reward professional growth. Dedicate time and resources for ongoing training for management and their teams, and create time for employees to do their own research and learning. And like anything that’s important, have a system in place to measure personal growth.


Another characteristic of a high-performance culture is the ability to be responsive and agile. Businesses that are able to move quickly and adapt as needed will significantly outperform those with slow, bogged-down processes that prevent progress and change. Some ways to become more agile include:

  • Empower your employees. Going back to the previous section, when anyone in a company can and is encouraged to influence change, organizations become much more adaptable and efficient.
  • Address process issues. Processes, though implemented with good intentions, often prevent organizations from becoming agile, and therefore prevent them from building a high-performing culture. If changes need to be made quickly to capitalize on an important opportunity, but the team that wants to move on it has to get it approved by presenting to leadership and the next presentation opportunity isn’t for two weeks, that’s something to fix.
  • Don’t let hierarchy get in the way. This is very intertwined with empowering employees and removing processes that hinder agility. As described here, networks are more responsive and agile. By creating an open line of communications where leaders are constantly involved—and all decision making and delegating responsibilities don’t funnel through them but include them—organizations can become more agile.

Collaborative and Trusting Teams

High-performing cultures are built through high-performing teams. Both trust and collaboration are necessary to achieve this.

To maximize performance, respect and trust within a team are essential. Everyone should have confidence in their teammates to carry their own weight, provide the space people need to be effective and avoid micromanaging, and be respectful and open-minded about others’ thoughts and opinions.

Collaboration will come naturally if there is a strong sense of trust within the team. The team will work together to overcome problems when they arise. There will be frequent discussion with contributions from everyone on the team. Even disagreement and criticism will be seen as constructive to help the team and the individuals within it grow.

Low-Stress Work Environment

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a strong, productive company culture and a high-stress work environment don’t go together. In fact, a leading cause of stress at work is poor company culture. Through stress management for employees, which involves actively finding ways to reduce stress, companies can increase overall productivity and take a step closer toward achieving a high-performance culture.

Focus on Employee Wellness

Similar to investing in employees through stress management tactics, investing in their wellness is another way to create a strong, high-performance culture. For employers, employee wellness and wellness programs can be tailored to meet the needs of your employees, making them incredibly powerful.

Employee wellness programs can be designed to help:

  • Encourage better eating habits
  • Encourage physical activity and help with weight loss
  • Employees overcome unhealthy habits like tobacco use
  • Improve financial wellness
  • Encourage positive thinking
  • Reduce stress

All-in-all, employee wellness is intended to improve the health and overall well being of employees. It’s no secret that a team of happier, healthier employees leads to a stronger, more productive culture. See some of the employee wellness resources available through WELCOA!

Improve Your Company Culture

Now it’s time to start working toward a high-performing culture. As one of the nation’s most trusted employee wellness organizations, WELCOA has a wealth of resources dedicated to helping companies improve their company culture, including courses, expert interviews, case studies, and downloadable resources.

The Culture Code

Josh Levine, a company culture expert who has helped top technology firms create high-performing cultures, provides actionable insights to help you change your company culture and become a high-performing organization in this online course. In addition to “The Culture Code,” we’ve also discussed improving company culture with Josh in an expert interview.

The Culture Code »

Expert Interview: How to Improve Culture at Your Organization with Josh Levine »

New Era Cap Company Case Study

This is a great look into how wellness initiatives helped drive a company forward. New Era not only implemented culture initiatives, but also holistic education and policy initiatives as well.

New Era Cap Company Case Study »

Seven Points of Transformation

People often can become overwhelmed when thinking about changing culture, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this interview, Rosie Ward and Jon Robison present a blueprint that leverages their 7 Points of Transformation for building a thriving culture at work.

Seven Points of Transformation »

Health Culture Audit

Use this straightforward questionnaire to capture your employees’ perceptions of your organization’s culture as it relates to wellness.

Health Culture Audit »