When is the last time you really thought about your company’s culture? If you’re like many busy small business owners, the answer is probably a long time ago, if at all.
It’s easy to operate on autopilot. But when you let your culture first develop and then evolve by chance, instead of being intentional about it, you miss out on opportunities to improve business outcomes.
While “culture” is difficult to define, it typically comprises the shared values and ideals, attitudes, practices and goals that characterize your company. It’s borne out by how people feel about their work and the environment in which they work, as well as how they feel about contributing to where your company is going. Cultures can be similar from company to company, but they will always have distinct traits that are unique to each business.
Why Is a Positive Company Culture Important?
A positive culture boosts engagement, productivity and loyalty, while making employees feel:
So, the benefits are obvious. How to achieve a positive, high-performance culture, however, is a bit less clear. Generally, though, companies that focus on the following areas are well on their way to creating and sustaining a winning culture:
Other procedures and rules that impact culture include those established around recruitment and onboarding practices, dress codes, employee discipline, training opportunities and performance management. When companies handle each of these situations consistently and in ways that convey employees are valued and heard, they are actively contributing to an ongoing healthy culture.
The saying goes that people leave managers, not companies. There are exceptions, of course, but according to global consulting firm DDI, 57% of employees have left a job because of a manager. An additional 32% stuck around but seriously considered bailing out. These are eye-opening statistics that drive home how much influence a direct supervisor has over an employee’s day-to-day work life and professional opportunities.
Make sure you hire strong leaders who advocate for everyone on their teams. And if your company’s managers aren’t good leaders when they’re hired, work with Axcet HR Solutions to get them the coaching and training they need to become effective in the role.
Great managers never belittle or micro-manage their employees. Rather, they model desired behaviors, communicate clearly and coach, develop and empower team members. As role models, they are in a unique position to vividly illustrate organizational values through correlated actions.
Hiring and retaining employees from many different backgrounds is not just good for business; it helps create a positive culture, too. When every person feels welcome and comfortable, no matter their age, race, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, they are more motivated to realize their full potential at work. An inclusive workplace celebrates individual differences, creating conditions that drive creativity, innovation and progressive solutions. It’s characterized by equal access to advancement opportunities and job perks and fair treatment of all team members.
Everyone likes a pat on the back for a job well done. The best cultures regularly recognize employees for notable achievements and lay out a clear path to success. Employee recognition programs highlight positive work habits for other team members to emulate, while transparent career advancement policies give everyone clear goals. Performance reviews become opportunities for both employers and employees to measure development and career-path progress.
Companies with strong corporate cultures also support employees individually, taking time to understand their needs and personal goals and creating a roadmap that helps the employee advance in the company or contribute in ways that are personally fulfilling.
A Sense of Community
A trait of a business that has a good company culture is that colleagues want to spend time together, both inside and outside the workplace. Companies can host events that are fun for employees and develop activities designed to build teams or otherwise connect and support workers. Companies can also consider offering paid time for group volunteer opportunities. Such actions help co-workers feel more bonded to each other and to the company. Importantly, however, the sense of community will develop only if company leaders regularly practice honest communication and trustworthiness.
A company’s purpose and core values, which are much deeper than a witty tagline or motto, keep an organization headed in a specific direction and guide its daily decisions. Leaders should communicate the purpose and core values regularly to all employees and should consistently act in alignment with them.
Giving workers a clear sense of the company’s purpose and values – and helping them see their individual roles in making decisions in accordance with those guideposts – creates a culture employees are proud to be part of.
Workplaces where negative behaviors and attitudes are allowed to fester do a lot of damage. They result in unfavorable work experiences and lower profits, too. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, toxic workplace cultures cost U.S. employers a whopping $223 billion in turnover expenses alone over a five-year period.
But in positive cultures, good leaders cultivate employees who are committed to organizational success. Employees feel a sense of pride and ownership. They are passionate about and engaged in their jobs and more likely to be high performers who appreciate and contribute to a continuing culture of success.