10 Ways to Build a Better Culture in Your Business
Wherever your culture stands now, there’s always room for improvement. The following steps can help you repair a broken culture or turn a fairly good culture into an even better one—and keep it there.
Know where you’re going.
If your organization is just starting out, leaders should carefully identify the organization’s mission (reason for existing) and the values behind that mission. Then, they can use their mission and values to establish what the organization’s vision is—what it wants to become or the effect it aspires to have on the community, nation, or world.
Find people who fit.
33 percent of new hires quit their job within 90 days, and 32 percent of them blame company culture. To help prevent this expensive and disruptive issue, hire people who not only have the needed job skills but also share your organization’s vision and values. Help candidates get to know your culture during the application process so both you and the applicants will have a better idea of whether they would be a good fit.
Avoid the common mistake of hiring people who all think alike. That might seem like an easy way to have a unified culture, but instead it limits the healthy differences in experience, background, and perspective that strengthen organizations and their culture.
Help new employees feel welcome.
Does your onboarding process do enough to welcome new hires into your company culture?
These proven steps can help new hires feel at home, get up to speed, and become confident, successful, long-term employees:
- Use the buddy system. New hires have countless questions about their work and workplace. Assign a nearby coworker to be a friendly resource.
- Talk about culture. Help new hires learn more about your values and culture. Explain how the new employee can help strengthen your culture and create an even greater place to work.
- Show them they matter. Explain how the work they do will make a difference. Help them see meaning and purpose in their job and know that their work will be valued.
4 . Set the right example.
When leaders embody their culture’s values, the good example they set trickles down to all levels of the organization. There are a lot of ways for your leaders to do this, depending on the values you’re cultivating.
- To foster transparency and trust: In company meetings, leaders should be as open and honest about the organization’s challenges as they are about its successes.
- To promote teamwork: Leaders should welcome collaboration in their own tasks and use rewards and recognition to shine a spotlight on outstanding team efforts.
Integrate your values into everyday activities.
Your company culture should be the showplace where your values come to life and prove their worth. As BambooHR co-founder Ben Peterson puts it, “The values you define for your organization will mean nothing if you don’t intertwine them into everyday work.”
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Make values-based decisions when choosing company initiatives.
- Use your values to guide performance management and help underperforming employees improve.
- Make sure your external messaging (marketing, social media, etc.) reflects your values so your branding is consistent.
Give rewards and recognition.
Employees want to be recognized for great work—and rewarded, too. When company culture helps employees feel valued, they are happier in their jobs and motivated to keep improving their work.
Here are four characteristics of successful rewards and recognition programs:
- Inclusive: Everyone is eligible, including remote workers.
- Timely: Recognition for outstanding work is given promptly, making it more meaningful to the recipient.
- Specific: Employees are informed of exactly what behavior or accomplishment they are being rewarded for, encouraging them to repeat it.
- Visible: Successful programs make sure employee recognition is prominently showcased in company meetings and communications.
7. Keep Up with changes.
The world and the workplace continue to change at dizzying speeds. New industries rise. New processes disrupt proven ways of doing things. New generations of employees and customers bring different expectations and behaviors. No organization is exempt from the effects of change.
One of the best ways to prepare your company culture to adapt to changes is to base it on timeless best principles, instead of locking it into rigid best practices that often become obsolete. For example, when the coronavirus pandemic first struck, companies that practice the principle of flexibility were better positioned to adapt to the sudden need for employees to work from home.
Foster more feedback.
Many organizations don’t know enough about what their employees really think of them, leaving leaders in the dark as they make decisions about culture initiatives.
Here are two solutions that promote more helpful and meaningful feedback:
- Performance management software. Well-designed software can replace inadequate annual performance reviews with frequent feedback that’s more timely, accurate, and helpful.
- Employee satisfaction surveys. Easy to create and administer with the right software, brief email surveys can reveal what employees like and don’t like so you can shape your culture in ways that increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover.
Fix what’s broken.
Despite best efforts, just about every organization hits an occasional rocky patch on the road to a great culture. A broken culture can result from growth issues, uncooperative employees, inadequate training, and many other reasons. In each case, something about the company’s culture isn’t living up to your ideals and needs to change. Don’t think of these shortcomings as failures but as opportunities to improve. Before you make changes, be sure your employees understand why and have a chance to air their suggestions and concerns.
Harvard Business Review names four key practices for successfully changing workplace culture:
- Articulate the aspiration. Analyze the issues in your current culture and define the kind of culture you want.
- Select and develop leaders who align with the target culture. Their support, strategizing skills, and ability to implement changes will be critical to success.
- Use organizational conversations about culture to underscore the importance of change. Just as culture is everywhere in an organization, frequent and open dialogue about the need for culture changes must be, too.
- Reinforce the desired change through organizational design. Align your organization’s structures, systems, and processes to support the improved culture you’re developing.
10. Give culture constant attention.
Like tending a garden, supporting, and nurturing your company culture requires constant care. Revisit these steps for improving your culture often as you face new changes and update your strategy.