by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.
How is your organization starting the new year? A positive culture is integral to company success, and even the happiest workplace could do with a tune-up now and again.
If your 2023 resolution is to make your place the best place to work (and to be recognized as such), read on for our top 20 ways to make that happen.
What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work?
When it comes to attracting and retaining employees, compensation is a major factor; competitive salaries and benefits such as stock options, bonuses, and health insurance are key to any job search. But generous compensation alone won’t create a healthy environment if the rest of the employee experience doesn’t match up.
The best workplaces put their employees first: They listen to them, give them freedom in making decisions, recognize their efforts, and care about their well-being. They also have a strong sense of community, with everyone working together to achieve the company’s mission. And they never stand still. Most employees and job seekers don’t want to stagnate; instead, they’re energized by a work environment that prizes innovation.
Get it right, and you’ll reap the benefits of a happy team while making your company a place where the superstars of the future want to work.
20 Characteristics of the Ideal Work Environment
Below, we’ll explore the most valuable qualities that your organization can work toward to improve your culture this year.
While it can be tempting to want to make every change at once, it’s important not to take on too much too quickly. It’s better to focus on just a few key areas and really invest time and resources into making them successful.
1. A Diverse Workforce
The best ideas don’t emerge from a closed circle; it takes people from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences to drive innovation and keep your company moving forward. Embracing diversity isn’t a box-ticking exercise. Rather, it’s about consciously building a more varied workforce, listening to multiple viewpoints, and making every new hire feel valued.
2. A Clear Mission
What is your organization trying to achieve? If employees at every level can answer that question and are united around a common goal, then you’re well on your way to creating the company culture that you’d like to see.
Nobody wants to work for an organization run by small cliques where the boss’s favorites run away with all the promotions and prizes. A transparent two-way feedback process, promotions based on merit, and equal distribution of work projects will help maintain fairness.
4. Professional Development
All employees want to grow and progress in their careers. A great employer offers opportunities such as training courses, membership in industry associations, or even funding towards a degree to help their people develop professionally.
The best workplaces are alive with communication, and it flows in all directions. If staff members feel empowered to ask questions of their leaders, and if leaders communicate clearly and regularly in turn, it all points to a great culture.
A healthy workplace culture doesn’t come about by accident; it needs to be planned, built, and nurtured. Regular employee engagement surveys, town halls, and designated company culture champions all point to a great place to work.
7. Leaders Who Live the Values
While it takes every employee to truly build a workplace culture, it’s company leaders who set the tone. It’s important for leaders to model the organization’s values, for example, by abandoning corner offices to sit with the rest of the team or getting their hands dirty at a community volunteering event.
Who wants to cc their manager on every email? Instead of micromanagement, people value an environment where employees and managers trust each other. Signs of trust include a healthy attitude to remote working, minimal layers of sign-off, and a free exchange of information.
9. Engaged Employees
While “quiet quitting” was one of the buzzwords of 2022, it’s the last thing you want to see. Employee engagement is one of the clearest indicators of a positive company culture: staff members who enjoy coming to work and interacting with each other; who feel aligned with the company’s values; and who are invested in its mission.
The best workplaces remember that their employees are human beings. Initiatives such as longer maternity or paternity leave, free yoga sessions, and making space in the calendar for breaks—as well as simply getting in touch and offering support if someone is having a tough time—will all help communicate that you care.
It’s important that employees feel like they’re part of a community. Are you all working towards a common goal? Does your company rally around employees when they need support? And how do you celebrate success together?
There’s nothing more dispiriting than when employees work on new ideas, only to be told that, “This isn’t the way we do things.” Companies will only grow and become successful if they ask questions, encourage employees of all levels to speak up, and nurture innovation.
13. Great Management
The relationship between managers and employees is perhaps one of the biggest indicators that something is right—or wrong—with your culture. Do employees trust and respect their managers and vice versa? Is communication a two-way street?
14. Acting on Feedback
Don’t just send out a survey and think that your work is done. The best workplaces actively solicit employee feedback, listen to it, and act on it.
Everyone wants to feel recognized for their hard work or the successful completion of a project. A great culture is one that regularly rewards employees and gives credit where it’s due.
16. New Opportunities
Many employees are looking for more rounded opportunities, perhaps with an eye to a lateral move within the organization. So, consider peer-to-peer mentoring, promoting from within, and other ways to foster growth.
In business, it’s crucial to embrace a certain amount of risk. Playing it safe every time will kill an employee’s ambition; however, by setting new targets and challenges, you’ll help create a culture of calculated risk-taking.
18. Meaningful Values
Most people want to feel proud of where they work. This could be a social enterprise or a non-profit, but it doesn’t have to be. A successful company culture is one that looks beyond a focus on profit to articulate how they’re making the world a better place.
A great culture takes collective effort. Instead of settling into silos, employees across different levels and functions should feel empowered to reach out to each other, building relationships and finding solutions together.
Nobody feels motivated if they’re kept in the dark. Great workplaces engage employees by being open. This includes sharing strategic objectives and key performance information, being transparent about business challenges, and soliciting ideas and feedback.
Building a workplace where people feel happy isn’t just a nice to have; it’s essential if you want to avoid stagnation and take your company to the next level. Company culture can be the secret sauce that elevates a small business from startup mode into something much bigger.
Culture can also help you stand out as a desirable employer, and it’s something that candidates actively look for in their research for new roles. Awards and certifications recognizing your culture will earn you a place on “best companies to work for” lists and help you attract and retain top talent.
Make 2023 Your Year
Ready to make 2023 the year you foster your ideal culture? Start your culture change with Ideal Outcomes. We help companies gain a competitive advantage by improving their company culture through a combination of consulting, resources, and training.
Take the first step by downloading our Culture Readiness Tool, and get in touch to find out how we can help you make this the best year ever for leadership, employees, and customers.