Over the last year and a half, businesses of all kinds have faced major challenges. Not only have many struggled just to keep their doors open and their lights on, but others have had to learn how to manage remote teams, onboard new hires they’ve never met in person, and figure out how to function during an ongoing pandemic.
But there are numerous companies that have managed to survive. Some have even thrived. And of those that have made it through to the other side, most credit their teams with helping them weather the storm.
When you put your people first, you can never really go wrong. The importance of company culture can’t be understated. However, it’s often misunderstood.
What is Company Culture and Why Does It Matter?
First of all, what is company culture anyway?
The term gets thrown around a lot, but do you really know what it means?
Hint: it’s about much more than pizza parties, office pool tables, and workplace happy hours.
In fact, company culture isn’t about perks at all. It actually refers to the values, attitudes, and behaviors of everyone within a company.
Workplace culture is indicative of how an organization functions, what kind of decisions are made within the company, and the priorities of the business.
Your culture is what determines how everyone operates within your business – everything from how imperative decisions are made to how colleagues communicate with one another.
Furthermore, your company culture might be purposefully developed or built unconsciously over time. Businesses that fall into the latter category will tend to have poorer cultures than those in the former category. That’s simply because creating the best company culture requires considerable effort.
So why make the effort at all? Because it’s worth it.
We know that having an outstanding company culture will usually:
- Attract top-tier candidates
- Have reduced attrition and turnover
- Help you stand out from the competition
- Improve overall performance
Employees who feel good about their company’s culture will stick around for longer periods – a rarity in today’s marketplace. Since we know from Gallup data that highly engaged workplaces experience almost 60% lower turnover rates than other businesses, that can save your company both time and money.
When your employees are engaged at work, their performance and overall job satisfaction will improve. Highly engaged teams result in 21% greater profitability, which could mean big things for your bottom line.
Not only will your team be eager to stay with your company, but others will want to join. You’ll be in a better place to attract the best possible hires when people know you take care of your employees and have created a positive work environment.
Having a strong company culture can give your employees a stronger purpose and position your business as an industry leader. And who doesn’t want that?
But actually achieving this goal is another story. Whether you feel like you’re starting completely from scratch or you want to take your already solid culture to the next level, let’s talk about just three secrets that will get you to where you want to be.
How to improve company culture?
Learn How to REALLY Listen
This might sound basic, but it’s incredibly important – and many of us often mess this up without realizing it.
You might think you’re listening to your employees. But if your culture is lacking, we’re willing to bet that they don’t actually feel heard.
Active listening requires you to be present in that moment and truly understand the message that’s being communicated to you. It’s more than just the perception of sound; you need to pay close attention to both words and non-verbal cues to process essential information and reassure the speaker that you comprehend what they’re saying – and that what they’re saying matters!
The acronym “RASA” is a great place to start with active listening. With RASA, you…
- Receive: Get physically and mentally ready to listen
- Appreciate: Provide cues that illustrate engagement
- Summarize: Paraphrase what’s been said
- Ask: Pose clarifying questions or prompt further engagement
We may practice some of these steps in natural conversation, but remembering to follow this specific formula in workplace discussions can ensure employees feel valued. Rather than having their ideas dismissed or misunderstood, they’ll know they’re being heard and that they matter.
When you develop a culture that’s committed to listening and making sure every person feels heard, you can build engagement, morale, and overall performance. Employees want to know you care about their experience and that their voices are essential to your organization success.
Invest in your Team Professional Development Plan
If you want to grow your business, you need to start from the inside.
In order to keep employees around, you need to provide them with opportunities for advancement. That often involves soft or hard skills acquisition, but it could also include group activities with an emphasis on learning.
For example, company book clubs can be a great way to improve company culture by providing opportunities for open discussion and creating a shared “language” that ensures consistent alignment. These books can act as a welcome reference point as you continue to improve your culture and strengthen your business model.
You can also provide specific training sessions for employees, like how to conduct successful meetings or how to become a better leader. Developing these soft skills can boost employee morale and ensure they’re able to advance through the ranks within your business.
By showing that you’re invested in the professional (or even the personal) growth of your employees, your team will be more likely to stick around. They’ll benefit from this development on a practical level, but they’ll also feel valued and know that you care about their success. That will result in higher rates of engagement and satisfaction while reducing the likelihood of turnover.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Traditional office environments are almost certainly on the outs. Even prior to the pandemic, remote and hybrid work arrangements were becoming more popular. But in 2021 and beyond, workers are actually willing to quit or turn down higher wages just so they can have the option of working remotely.
Employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from remote work, however. Not only does data show that remote workers are significantly more productive, but these arrangements can result in major cost savings for employers. Essentially, remote work means more earnings and fewer costs – and that alone should be enough for employers to consider making the switch.
But if your main goal is to improve company culture, remote work offerings should be at the top of your list. Although some business owners worry that a lack of in-person interaction will result in isolation and misunderstandings, the truth is that having more control and flexibility will improve employee productivity and loyalty. You can reduce stress and promote better work-life balance, both of which speak to your values as an organization.
Flexible or remote work options are one of the most important factors for new hires and they’re also what will keep your current employees around. If you want to position your business as a great place to work, this is where you should start. While it won’t solve all of your cultural challenges, it can serve as a strong foundation for you to build on.
A Strong Culture is Your Secret to Success
Company culture is often misunderstood and underestimated. But it’s one of the most powerful parts of any organization.
We’ve shared our “secrets” to creating a better company culture in this post. If you implement them, you’ll soon have your own secret weapon to wield. And if you manage to crack the code to a better culture, there’ll be nothing to hold you back.