Company culture directly affects employee recruitment, retention and turnover. Workers thrive in cultures that encourage support, personal growth and open communication – but this isn't always easy to achieve. When you have a diverse company with numerous employees, keeping everyone on the same page can be difficult. However, there are ways to address this issue and ensure workers perform with the same goals and values.
What is company culture?
Company culture refers to how an organization and its employees behave. It is defined by the shared values, behaviors, visions and perceptions among the organization. It is perpetuated by the way employees and leadership treat one another. A strong company culture is easy to identify, even from an outsider. However, company culture can slowly change over time, based on how employees interact and how guidelines and principles are enforced.
How to create a strong company culture
Although your company culture is based on the actions of your entire organization, your HR manager or someone in your HR department will likely be in charge of maintaining it. The tips outlined below are simple yet essential techniques to engage and retain the best employees. Follow them to create a strong company culture.
1. Establish core values.
The first step in creating a strong company culture is to establish your core values. These should align with your company's vision statement and mission. Think of what type of values you might be known for, pick those that most resonate with you, and communicate them to the rest of the team. Bake your core values into the processes of every department and team so they are readily apparent.
2. Keep it personal.
Promoting personal development and success creates a positive company culture. You should focus on individual talents and goals to keep employees happy and inspired. If employees are engaged, they're more likely to perform efficiently and be motivated to do so. However, according to a report by Gallup, only one-third of employees are engaged at work. Fifty-one percent are not engaged, and another 13% are actively disengaged.
Make sure you are supportive of your workers and their performance. As a leader, you should make sure your team members feel their work is valued. This will reduce voluntary turnover and improve employee retention.
Knowing your employees on a personal level also helps them to feel more comfortable and encourages them to ask questions, give feedback and contribute to the team. You can be friendly with your workers while still holding them accountable and maintaining a professional relationship with them.
3. Prioritize your employees.
Make your employees a priority and invest in their well-being. This not only includes what you offer in terms of employee benefits packages, but also the way your leadership treats your staff. Make it known that your organization treats all employees equally and with respect, and anything else will not be tolerated. When you take care of your employees, they will take care of you.
Additionally, your employees have personal lives and should not feel pressured to stay late or be available for contact after hours. Overwhelming them will impact the quality of their work, which ultimately impacts your company's bottom line. It's difficult for workers to perform efficiently if they are stressed or anxious, struggling to achieve a work-life balance.
4. Practice open communication.
If you are not communicating clearly with your employees, and they don't know about core values or any company changes, your business is at risk for many issues. For instance, employees may feel indifferent or passionless because they aren't involved in major company decisions.
Without communication, employees also won't know how they're performing or if they need to improve in certain areas. This can cause confidence issues, and employees may feel too timid to take risks or be creative. They may also feel intimidated when speaking up. Instead, they keep quiet when they want to pitch an idea or ask questions about a task.
You can avoid these problems by speaking with your employees. Be clear about your expectations and any information your workers should know. Also, hold meetings regularly to keep everyone up to date and on the same page. Make sure you encourage questions or ideas from employees; no one should be treated like their voice isn't important.
5. Hire the right people.
Hiring the right people to work for your company can drastically impact your organization and company culture. This is because your people represent your business and perpetuate the type of culture that is created.
If you are just starting to build your company culture, hire individuals that you think best represent the culture you want to achieve. Once you have an established company culture, finding the right people to match your culture will become a little easier.
6. Promote core values.
Your company's core values should always be kept in mind through every task you and your team complete. Each person in the company needs to understand and respect its principles to ensure everyone is on the same page, no matter their position or status.
Leaders should practice these values to set an example for the rest of the company and remind everyone what's important to the company instead of getting sidetracked. Values provide a common ground for all workers. Some examples of core values include:
- Personal accountability
- Hard work
Every organization needs an employee value proposition (EVP), which outlines the benefits and rewards of the company. Your EVP should match your company's core values and focus on employee satisfaction and appraisal.
7. Use the right HR software.
There are several top HR software solutions that can simplify many HR processes, but some are especially useful for developing a solid company culture. For example, they can help you create a seamless onboarding process, administer competitive employee benefits, and track employee performance, engagement, and satisfaction.
One great option for this is GoCo. Users can create hiring and onboarding workflows to automate their recruitment process. With features like customizable offer letters and onboarding task assignments, you can be sure that new hires get started on the right foot. Read our GoCo review to learn more.
Another top HR solution for building company culture is BambooHR. The software has advanced performance management tools that allow you to take the pulse on how each employee is doing. You can create employee goals, give and receive employee feedback, and track overall success. It even offers satisfaction (eNPS) reports that provide insights into how employees feel about your organization. If you have a low eNPS score, it may be time to reevaluate your company culture. Read our BambooHR review to learn more.
8. Understand the culture yourself (and encourage feedback).
You should especially be aware of your interpretation of your company's culture and how you're communicating that to your team. Here are some questions to ask yourself to build and understand your culture, according to TINYpulse:
- What is your current company culture?
- What are your company's values?
- How do you communicate your vision for organizational culture?
- What kind of people do you want?
- How do you want employees to grow?
9. Be honest with yourself. If there are any gaps, address them with your team.
On the other end, to know how your workers are accepting your company's culture, you need to offer ways for them to provide feedback. Ask these same questions to employees to ensure they're on the same page as you, and question them on their satisfaction at work, what they like about their company's culture and what they think needs improvement.
You can gauge their feedback through direct confrontation (individually or in group meetings), surveys and an anonymous tip box.
Managers should also give feedback to employees to clear up any misunderstandings or possible issues. This comes back to open communication, which is overall the most important asset of a company.
10. Lead by example.
One of the most important keys to creating a strong company culture is to lead by example. You and your business leaders must embody the company culture that you are trying to create. If you do so, employees will follow your lead. Your leadership will teach them what your company values are and what type of behavior is and isn't acceptable.
How important is company culture?
Company culture is something you cultivate to reflect your core values and beliefs. Although it requires some thought and nurturing, a strong company culture benefits you and your employees. Here are a few of the most common reasons why:
- It defines your identity and reputation. Company culture helps spell out your internal and external brand identity. It highlights what is most important to you, and it signifies to your employees, customers, clients, potential recruits and all key stakeholders that you operate in a particular manner. [Read related article: Your Reputation Is Your Reality: How to Strengthen Your Company's Public Image]
- It helps to attract the best employees. A recent study found that 46% of job seekers claim company culture is very important, and 15% even turned down an offer because of company culture. Additionally, having a strong company culture makes it easier for job seekers to realize if you are the right fit for them, which in turn can streamline your recruitment process.
- It improves employee engagement. When employees feel like they are in a safe and inclusive environment, they are more open to participating in team activities and speaking up in meetings. To best improve your employee engagement, create a culture that fosters trust and communication.
- It improves employee productivity. When employees care about the organization they work for, they tend to be more productive in their work. They give more effort because the results matter to them.
- It improves employee retention. Employees who rate their company culture poorly are 24% more likely to quit. When employees connect with your company culture, they often feel more compelled to stick around longer. Not only can a high employee retention rate speak volumes about your culture, but it is also great for your bottom line.