Every business, yours included, has a company culture. It consists of the values, behaviors, and standards (written and unwritten) of the work environment. A strong company culture creates employees who are highly engaged—they work hard and are productive because they love what they do, they believe in the company’s mission and values, they have great coworkers and bosses, they know what is expected of them, they are recognized and rewarded for doing excellent work, and they see that there are opportunities to learn and grow.
Company culture, then, is all about how the work gets done on a day-to-day basis. It is how your employees experience what it is like to work for your company. No one culture is perfect for every business and every employee. For example, the company culture at a bank is necessarily very different from, say, an auto body shop or a gym. The trick is to be cognizant of your culture and, if necessary, make the necessary changes to transform it. Let’s look at each of the components one by one.
Stated and Actual Mission and Values
No matter what your company’s mission is, it is critical that employees are on board with what you do and the values that serve as guideposts for getting that work done.
I once had a job as an HR manager for a company where the senior leaders were self-serving and deceitful toward frontline workers. I left my position after only a few months, even though they treated me quite well. The misalignment of management’s actual values (how they really behaved) and mine made the environment intolerable for me. Are your company values documented? If so, do actual behaviors in the workplace match the written ones? Consider this: Glassdoor, which is a website where current and former employees anonymously review their workplaces, did a study of posted comments. They found that 83% of companies with positive comments on their performance also received praise for their company values.
Culture of Clarity and Accountability
A recent Gallup poll found that fully 50% of employees do not know what their managers’ expectations of them are. That means that the only way they can be great performers is accidentally! Lack of role clarity and guidance leads to frustration, poor performance, burnout, and turnover. Leadership guru John Maxwell puts it this way: “If your people don’t know what to expect from you as a leader, at some point they won’t look to you for leadership.”
On the flip side, clear expectations that tie the individual’s work to the overall goals of the company are powerful motivators to do the right things and in the right way. Are your employees clear on what your expectations are?
Culture of Transparency
A culture of transparency fosters communication, which in turn creates trust and enhances employees’ feelings of belonging. Transparency means the employees and management communicate openly and honestly regarding business performance; they share ideas and feedback; they share mistakes and setbacks. In this way, team members see the big picture and take ownership. How transparent is your company?
Culture of Rewards and Recognition
Great Place to Work, which certifies companies for providing outstanding employee experiences, found that recognition was a critical component of employee productivity. In fact, 37% of survey respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often. That number was far greater than those who said a salary increase (7%) or a promotion (6%). Your employees crave personal recognition and will up their game in response. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should deny promotions or salary increases to individuals who deserve them. A top performer who is not being paid or formally recognized for their contributions is at risk of leaving—and of having a negative impact on morale overall. Does your company celebrate individual wins?
A study by Indeed found nearly one-third of respondents said self-improvement, either through employee development or via tuition reimbursement, was the most-valued characteristic of their job. That benefit beat out health and wellness programs and in-office perks. When you help employees develop and improve their skills, you’re sending a powerful message that they are worth your investment, that you value what they’ve done, and that you believe they are capable of even more. Completion of training is a source of pride, both for you and for employees. And a more highly skilled workforce will increase work quality, foster innovation, and promote your company brand. Are training opportunities available at your company?
Putting It All Together: Caring Culture
Employees are human beings first. They work to support their lives outside the workplace. They want to be seen and heard as individuals. If you take a look at all the components of a great culture, the common denominator is caring. If you can look at your culture through a lens of caring, you’ll be able to make whatever adjustments are needed. If it feels overwhelming, remember that your team members will appreciate even small changes made over time. Remember, too, that no company has the perfect culture. Culture is always a work in progress.
Company culture, then, is all about how the work gets done on a day-to-day basis. It is how your employees experience what it is like to work for your company.
A Strong Company Culture Creates Employees Who are Highly Engaged - They Work Hard and are Productive Because they Love what They Do
Engaged employees believe in the company’s mission and values, they have great coworkers and bosses, they know what is expected of them, they are recognized and rewarded for doing excellent work, and they see that there are opportunities to learn and grow.Have an HR Question?