Company culture can have an enormous impact on any business - not only on the day-to-day experience of the people working there, but also on its ultimate success or, indeed, failure. But with so much at stake, what can you do if you feel that your company culture is not what it should be?
The first challenge is to understand what company culture really means and there are so many facets to it that it can feel overwhelming. The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘culture’ as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time”. When you put this into a corporate context, it equates to your company’s personality, values, goals and ethics, and each of these factors require attention if a company culture is to facilitate your organisation’s successes, rather than become a hindrance to them.
Here are some questions to consider when thinking about how to improve the culture within your company.
1. Understand who defines your company culture
At inception, it makes sense that the factors set out above are defined by the business founders and leaders. It is they who ultimately decide the goals of the business, and the values that make it unique. However, as a business grows and employs more people, it is important to ensure that everyone feels able to feed into the culture that they spend so much of their time immersed in. Do you invite feedback from your staff, or discourage it? How much of a say do your people have in their environment, their working conditions? If the answer is ‘none’ and you are unhappy with your current company culture, this could be something to address.
2. Actively support wellbeing
A current buzzword, ‘wellbeing’ incorporates both the physical and emotional health of your staff. What do you offer to support this? Any reward and recognition programs that do not include resources for wellbeing are arguably not fit for purpose and could be contributing to an unhealthy company culture.
3. Offer learning and development opportunities
Offering people opportunities to grow and expand their skills is a really important way to foster a dynamic working environment and effective company culture. Take a look at the training you offer your staff. If it is limited only to the basic skills required in their roles, it probably isn’t enough. Can you look to include options that go beyond this, perhaps even in areas that are not directly work-related, but allow people to follow personal interests and passions?
4. Create a harmonious office environment
People spend a lot of time at work and if they are working in an office environment that is uncomfortable, it can lead them to feel that the business does not really care about them. Basics like chairs that offer appropriate back support, suitable break-out areas and access to daylight and refreshments (e.g. water, tea and coffee) are the absolute minimum that you should offer.
5. Focus on your managers
Good managers are critical for a good company culture. Your organisation may have exemplary, clearly defined values and ethics that its founders, leaders and HR teams all buy into – but if these are not being modelled and encouraged by line managers, the culture can easily become toxic. Ensure that training of managerial staff includes cultural factors and reward their efforts to instil the company’s values in their teams.
6. Encourage peer support
Alongside good managers, creating an environment of support across the whole firm can play a huge role in creating a healthy company culture. One way to do this is via your reward and recognition scheme, which can enable colleagues to nominate each other for some gratitude from the business via an easy to access portal.
7. Be infinite learners
It is very easy to become so immersed in your work that you forget the wider world outside. A company culture that does not encourage people to look outside of the company can become suffocating and unhealthy. Consider encouraging people to attend external networking events and seminars that will broaden their horizons and bring some fresh perspectives into the business.
8. Get involved with charitable activities
Doing good feels good and offering your staff the opportunity to give something back, or support people in need can have a big impact on morale. You could offer employees the chance to nominate a different charity each quarter that will receive a donation from the company. Some organisations also allow time off during working hours for volunteering.
9. Give people a break
Everyone needs a break from the stresses of work and rewarding your staff by offering them the opportunity for some time off to have fun with friends and family can pay dividends when it comes to creating a productive culture. An effective reward and recognition programme should include options for additional time off, or offer free access to leisure activities.
10. Allow flexible working
Routine is important and ensuring that people have clear working hours can make you feel more in control of their productivity. However, there is a risk that sticking too rigidly to a defined working day could lead to people struggling to balance their jobs with the pressures of everyday life. Offering a range of flexible working opportunities can actually increase productivity, allowing people to balance their personal and professional responsibilities.
When things feel like they are not working, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies. It’s often related to the company’s culture – a nebulous attribute that feels hard to fix. Making sure that your people feel recognised for the hard work they do and rewarded for going above and beyond is a good place to start.
Employee recognition can help create a healthy company culture. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective recognition strategy.