How to Improve Your Company Culture

Employees working together at a business with a strong company culture.

Company culture is more vital than ever. Just consider the numbers:

  • Organizations with a strong sense of culture are four times more profitable than their competitors.
  • 65 percent of HR managers and 76 percent of employees agree that workplace culture affects their ability to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
  • A majority of job seekers say culture is an important consideration when weighing multiple job offers, with 56 percent saying a prospective employer’s values are more important than salary when choosing between multiple job offers.

Clearly, if you’re looking to improve your employees’ efficiency, engagement, and effectiveness, it’s critical to take the pulse of your own workplace culture by asking hard questions such as:

  • Does your culture reflect your organization’s mission and core values?
  • Are you communicating your mission in ways that make your employees feel connected and engaged?
  • Do your leaders and managers see your culture as an important aspect of driving revenue growth?

If not, it’s time to focus your attention on ways to polish and promote—or even completely reconsider and revamp—your organizational culture.

What Is Company Culture?

It describes your way of doing business, from how management and employees interact, to the mission and values that underpin interactions with vendors, customers, and business partners.

Company Culture Examples

When you hear the phrase “corporate culture” you might immediately think of internet companies in the early 2000s setting up ping pong tables and hosting “wear your pajamas to work” days. Or maybe you think about the buttoned-down formality of a long-established financial firm. But company culture might also be the casual coziness of a local diner that extends past customer-facing spaces and into your kitchen and break rooms.

Some famous examples include:

  • Disney: As a company that focuses on creating entertaining content and experiences for its millions of customers, its insistence on referring to employees as “cast members” underscore its core mission and creates a sense of belonging among employees across divisions and functions.
  • Nike: The famed sportswear company backs up its celebration of athletics, exercise, and healthy living with onsite gyms, basketball courts, and physiotherapists.
  • Zoom Video Communications: The video conferencing leader follows through on its stated “focus on happiness” with “happiness crews” that host activities for employees ranging from parties to book clubs and fitness challenges to volunteer days and “random acts of kindness.” These workgatherings and community-focused activities are designed to make sure Zoom’s workers experience the kind of joy and engagement its leadership believes drive efficiency and ingenuity.

Why Is Workplace Culture Important?

No matter the size of your company, research shows that culture can affect:

  • Employee morale, engagement, and retention.
  • Recruitment efforts and employer branding.
  • Productivity, efficiency, and customer service.
  • Your reputation in your community and the marketplace.
  • Sales, profits, growth, and your bottom line.

How to Assess Your Company Culture

Ambiguity and poor communication surrounding culture, mission, and purpose are common problems for many employers. Luckily, your stakeholders can help you determine how clear your culture is. Feedback in the form of short, targeted employee surveys can help pinpoint areas of miscommunication, as can candid, informal discussions with employees, vendors, and customers.

Ask recruiters why candidates decide to reject your offers, conduct candid exit interviews when employees leave, and stay interviews for employees you most value asking what elements of their work experience need to be improved.

Self-reflection is also important. Reflect on your company’s story. Every organization has a story—the story of its founding, growth and development over time, and its challenges. You can begin to articulate yours by asking:

  • Apart from earning a profit, why are you in business?
  • Who are your customers and what do they count on you for?
  • Why would someone choose to join your organization?
  • What values do you want your employees to exemplify?
  • What community groups and causes have you traditionally partnered with or contributed to?

What to Avoid as You Shape (or Reshape) Your Company Culture

Once you’ve determined your company culture—your core mission and values—the way you allocate your budget should reflect your cultural aspirations. If culture becomes a talking point at the highest levels of your company that never makes its way into the day-to-day operations of your teams, it creates distance and tension between upper-level management and the rest of your operations, breading cynicism among your workforce.

For example, if you say you value your employees, but all your effort and investment go into making customer-facing spaces clean and beautiful while your break rooms remain shabby, your employees are not going to get the message that they are valued.

Ways to Improve Company Culture

Once you’ve obtained feedback from your workforce and customer base, begin sketching out ways to articulate your mission and key policies by focusing on shared core values, such as community engagement, product improvement, customer service, and lifelong learning and professional development.

As you refine these aspects of your culture, keep in mind the key areas where workers tend to think their employers are failing, such as:

  • Poor management communication
  • Unequal and unfair compensation
  • Lack of appreciation
  • Lack of job security
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Micromanagement
  • No opportunity for advancement

How to Leverage Your Corporate Culture

Your brand and your company culture should be clearly linked. Make sure your workplace values are clear by:

  • Incorporating them into every job description, performance evaluation, and customer interaction.
  • Posting your mission and values in places of prominence throughout the workplace.
  • Using your mission and values as a conversation starter during job interviews.

Attention and consistency, along with the willingness to reassess and adjust your culture, can ensure that your mission remains front of mind for your workforce, helping to communicate a sense of purpose, attracting top talent, and retaining valued performers.

Leverage Your Corporate Culture to Improve Retention and Recruitment

Learn more about ways to improve employee performance and attract the top performers in your sector with expert advice, cutting-edge hiring news, and management best practices.