by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.
As a business leader, you likely understand that a positive workplace culture goes beyond offering competitive compensation and benefits. But what makes an employee actively excited about your company? And how can you inspire people to bring their best selves to work each day?
Below, we’ll identify the characteristics that make up a strong culture and share some tips on banishing negativity and transforming your culture from blah to buoyant.
Why Great Workplaces Have Great Cultures
Encompassing a company’s beliefs and attitudes, workplace culture covers how employees and leaders behave, share information, and work together. A positive company culture is one where people feel happy and enthused, and there’s nothing fluffy about having employees who feel good about coming to work.
Workplace culture is integral to the health and success of your company. It sets you apart from competitors in the market and can make all the difference in elevating a small startup to the next level.
The costs of not addressing workplace culture can be massive and only highlight its importance. A toxic culture is the biggest driver in employee turnover: It’s the #1 reason people quit their jobs, accounting for 62 percent of resignations.
Positive cultures are open, innovative, and collaborative, leading to happy employees and business success, whereas toxic cultures tend to be hierarchical and stifled by process. When managers turn a blind eye to negative behaviors, manage conflict badly, or fail to overturn established attitudes, a company can easily enter a downward spiral, leading to disengaged employees and hindered success.
Characteristics of a Positive Workplace Culture
While every company is different, there are certain traits that positive workplace cultures have in common. Generally, they prize innovative thinking over “the way we’ve always done things,” encourage collaborative working, and provide opportunities for people to develop and grow.
Let’s explore in more detail:
Effective communication is a strong sign of a positive work environment. Managers should set clear targets and schedule regular one-on-ones (and be meticulous about not canceling them) so that direct reports know what is expected of them. Company-wide efforts to keep everyone updated on the overarching business strategy will also improve employee engagement.
Don’t forget that great communication goes beyond the day job! An environment that leaves space for personal conversations will help foster meaningful relationships.
One way to foster an engaged workforce is to offer development opportunities. While this can include skills training to positively impact employee performance, that’s far from the whole story. People rarely succeed when they feel stuck in a rut, so help them expand their abilities into new areas and develop them into the leaders of the future.
A great culture is designed to encourage collaboration: the sense that everyone is working toward a common goal. Team meetings and tools such as Slack can all encourage employees to break down silos and work together. A true culture of collaboration also cuts across politics and office hierarchies. It’s all too easy to give leaders the floor and allow them to dominate meetings, but allowing everyone to speak up will foster a more innovative culture.
Recognition and Rewards
While teamwork is crucial to a positive work culture, rewarding an employee individually for a job well done is also important. Recognition has a big impact on employee satisfaction, so if someone has gone above and beyond to actively contribute to the company’s success, a fair and consistent rewards program can boost engagement.
Employees Feel Heard
A common feature of fulfilling work cultures is that employees feel heard. It’s imperative to foster a listening culture where people feel comfortable sharing any concerns in a secure and private way. Consider initiatives such as an anonymous sexual harassment hotline and make it clear that you have a strict zero-tolerance policy for negative behaviors.
While employees should align with a company’s core values, this doesn’t mean a lack of diversity. Building a diverse workforce, inclusive across categories including race, age, gender, religion, and ethnicity, isn’t simply about HR teams implementing a few diversity initiatives. For example, everyone can promote inclusive language to create a welcoming environment.
A positive environment depends on a shared mission and values. What are the goals of your organization beyond simply making a profit? How are your products and services making the world a better place? These values should be communicated with employees, whether through an employee handbook or a monthly town hall meeting. Of course, the leadership team should be seen to model and embody these values too.
How a Positive Culture Leads to a Better Business
By fostering a positive workplace culture, you can look forward to the following benefits:
A Positive Culture Helps You Attract & Retain the Best Talent
HR professionals and business leaders alike know that an organization’s success depends on its people. They’re your biggest asset, and elite talent simply won’t stick around if they’re surrounded by disengaged employees. A positive work culture is a big draw for talented job seekers, a trend that recently prompted employer reviews company Glassdoor to add a Culture & Values filter to its search tools.
A Positive Culture Drives Results
A positive work culture is a big driver of results. Quite simply, if managers interact with their employees in a supportive and transparent way, they’ll know what’s expected of them to meet your organization’s long-term objectives. An enthusiastic and motivated workforce is more likely to go the extra mile when needed and work together towards a common goal.
A Positive Culture Builds Your Brand
Your company culture isn’t confined to the four walls of your office or even your company Slack channel. It informs how you interact with everyone, including your customers, and you can’t fake it. If everyone in your organization treats each other warmly and with respect, those employee interactions will spill over into the outside world, becoming a part of your brand and helping woo potential clients.
Create Your Positive Workplace Culture
Building a positive work environment is an ongoing project that takes intention, and you’ll need everyone across the business to get on board with creating, embedding, and nurturing your new culture. It isn’t something you can simply hand over to your HR team and tick off your to-do list.
At Ideal Outcomes, we use a five-step methodology to help companies turn their culture around:
- Define your ideal culture
- Diagnose your current company culture to identify where the gaps are
- Make a detailed plan to fill those gaps, aligning your processes and policies with your ideal culture
- Measure your culture regularly to monitor change and keep track of your progress
- Sustain your good work through ongoing culture initiatives
Ready to take the first step? We’ll help you create a great employee experience through downloadable tools, consulting, and training and make your company a place where everyone feels valued.
Download our culture readiness tool, or contact us to get started on your journey.