6 effective ways to improve company culture
Lucid Content Team
Reading time: about 8 min
It’s no secret: company culture matters. It can affect the morale of your employees. It can attract (or repel) your best job candidates. It can even influence customer loyalty.
Recently, a national study revealed that job seekers typically screen potential employers by company culture with 46% of candidates ranking it as very important during the application process with 88% citing culture to be at least of relative importance.
Before deciding on how to improve company culture at your business, it’s important to gain a better understanding of what company culture is. In a way, company culture is the personality of your company. A well-defined culture should embody the mission, values, ethics, goals, beliefs, expectations, and work environment of a company and its employees.
When it comes to employee engagement, business profitability, and overall productivity, a positive culture can provide your organization with a distinct competitive advantage. In this article, we will explore 6 ways to improve company culture at your workplace.
Let’s get started.
1. Evaluate current company culture
In a survey of 1,400+ CFOs and CEOs across North America, just 15% of participants said that their firm’s corporate culture was where it needed to be. In that same survey, 70% agreed that leadership should dedicate more time to developing corporate culture.
Despite the significant role that culture plays in company improvement, it can be difficult for those who oversee day-to-day operations to always see the forest for the trees. This can be especially true when it comes to understanding which aspects of the culture need immediate improvement.
An audit may help you gain greater insight into the realities of your workplace culture and identify any potential problem areas. While evaluating your culture from a leadership perspective, consider asking some of these questions:
- Do the actions of leadership align with the company’s stated values?
- Are employees encouraged to contribute ideas to workplace culture?
- Does your company emphasize teamwork or individual achievement?
- What structures are in place to support your workplace culture goals?
During your evaluation of workplace culture, look for ways to garner feedback from your employees and ask for their opinions of the company’s vision and values.
2. Determine your company’s values and strive to implement them
Identifying which aspects best comprise your workplace culture takes time, particularly in large companies with numerous teams, different departments, and complicated office dynamics. When an organization fails to define its values, they inherit them by default.
This is why it’s critical to determine your company’s values and make a more concerted effort to highlight those values.
Many businesses outline their company values on their website. Corporate values are typically listed on pages that are highly visible to employees and potential job candidates. For example, the core values of Lucid are located right on our website. Our values can also be found on signage and murals on our office walls.
Of course, getting employees to embrace your company’s values in the workplace takes much more than a well-placed mission statement. Management should make a point of guiding employees through company culture before any false values become entrenched.
The best company values are:
- Specific to your organization and to what makes it special
- Succinct and easy to remember
- Modeled by company leaders
Once you’ve settled on your company’s values, not only can they be used to shape the perceptions of employees, but they can also provide a way to help measure the viability of future success for any job candidates who may become part of your company’s culture.
3. Use your company culture as a guideline for hiring employees
Taking the necessary steps to ensure that job candidates are a good cultural fit for your workplace makes good business sense, especially when you consider the downsides of making a bad hiring decision which can affect office morale, work productivity, and more.
According to statistics compiled by Career Builder, the average cost of hiring the wrong person for an entry- or mid-level employee ranges between $7,000 to $10,000. Hiring the wrong manager is much more costly, often costing the company in excess of $40,000 in total expenses.
So, how can workplace culture be incorporated as a guideline for your hiring process?
- Conduct a pre-interview personality test online for every job applicant to seek out candidates who will add value to your culture.
- Ask interview questions to reveal work preferences (self-directed or collaborative, informal or formal feedback, etc.) and compare their responses against your culture.
- Use behavioral assessments to test how candidates react to hypothetical work scenarios. Take note of how their answers correspond to your company’s values.
- Establish benchmarks based on your company’s top performers to help quantify the traits and attitudes of those who are a good cultural fit for your organization.
Using your company’s culture as a guideline for company improvement isn’t limited to the hiring process. Managers can and should use cultural values to guide their goal setting and evaluation efforts. This will help cultivate a positive work environment and maintain employee morale.
4. Create a plan to improve workplace culture and productivity
On the surface, dedicating time to improving company culture can seem like a low priority. But even the best company cultures can benefit from improvement. In time, a more dynamic work environment will prove advantageous to your company and its employees.
Whether your current workplace culture only requires minor adjustments or the presence of a broken culture necessitates a major overhaul, the need for improvement is constant. Meaningful culture change starts with the creation of a plan to inspire employee engagement and productivity.
Your plan should include the following steps:
- Get a feel for the health of your company’s culture. See what people are saying on review platforms such as Glassdoor or observe employee behavior firsthand.
- Look for weaknesses within the culture that require more immediate attention. Is employee turnover higher than usual? Is overtime the norm? Is the office empty by 5 p.m.?
- Create a coordinated response to your company’s culture problems. This should include a strategy, budget, and timeline with benchmarks to track your progress.
Depending on the size of your organization and the degree of improvement needed, you may want to form a company-culture taskforce to promote your workplace initiatives and host employee events. Or you could assign tasks to different departments based on the nature of the request (e.g., a review of new hires against culture fit falls to the HR team).
However simple or detailed your plan is, the most important thing is to put it in motion.
Many companies are now facing the dilemma of setting a consistent company culture while having remote employees. Learn how to do it.See our tips
5. Increase flexibility to give employees options
For Kat Judd, VP of people operations at Lucidchart, empowering people to deliver excellent work is one of her greatest passions. Kat has dedicated time to strategically designing a workplace that maximizes productivity. It includes kitchens stocked with healthy food, ergonomic chairs with mountain views as a cozy alternative to desks, and quiet rooms for employees who need to eliminate interruptions.
As Kat explains, “While perks are nice and certainly make a difference, they actually pale in comparison to what we’ve learned is one of the biggest secrets to energizing and boosting employee productivity: Time spent outside the office.”
For some, this can take the form of an offsite lunch hour or simply walking away from their desk to decompress. For others, it can be satisfied with the option to work remotely.
To accommodate flexibility into its company culture, Lucid ensures every meeting is accessible on Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype. Communication channels are offered to give workers a space they can share while also building bonds.
6. Encourage transparency to spark company improvement efforts
Transparency is often cited as a foundational element of any great company culture. It engenders trust and promotes open, honest communication throughout the workplace.
However, transparency can only take root and thrive within those organizations where leadership sets the example through their own attitudes, behaviors, and interactions with employees. It requires a deliberate mental shift, as opposed to a logistical one.
To push the adoption of transparency within your company’s culture, consider these starting points:
- Always openly share individual and team successes within your organization.
- Get comfortable with sharing the challenges faced by the company.
- Be open to unconventional solutions and perspectives offered by your team.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer: Employee Experience report indicates that only 58% of employees view their employer as a trustworthy source of information. When attempting to boost employee engagement, leverage their individual strengths, and secure their unwavering commitment to your company’s vision, transparency is a must.
Improving company culture and transforming employee perceptions in a meaningful and effective way won’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, and persistence. But the benefits it can yield for your business, its leaders, and its employees are well worth it.
Look at how you can maintain transparency in the workplace, even when employees are working remotely or from different office locations.Learn more
Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.