Employee Engagement While Putting Together Puzzle

The Importance of Company Culture and How to Promote it in Your Workplace

”Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

– Peter Drucker

Having a good company culture relies on a variety of tangible and intangible factors. It is something that needs to be cultivated over time and practiced by managers and employees alike. And in today’s business world it is extremely important and can often be the “make or break” factor for your company. In fact, millennials–who make up around 35% of the US workforcevalue company culture over many other things, including money.

Additionally, company culture is important as it can have positive effects on your employee retention, engagement, and overall performance. Having good company culture also leads to happier employees, who are proven to be more engaged and perform better–12% more productive to be exact!

Now that we’ve discussed the significance of a good company culture, here are 5 helpful tips to promote it in your workplace.

Communicate and define your values

“Having a clear mission and making sure you know that mission and making sure that mission comes through the company is probably the most important thing you can do for both culture and values.”

Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb

According to an employee engagement poll, 1 in 4 employees are “indifferent or don’t know much about their company’s mission.” Thus, communicating your company mission and values is extremely important in any business. If everyone is aware of company values, it is much more likely that you will cultivate a better work atmosphere and contribute to a better office culture.

It is also crucial to define your company values–in regards to the specific meaning for you and your organization and how it is applicable. Values can mean different things to different people, so it is essential to provide this clarity. For instance, if you say one of your company core values is fun, what does that really mean to your company and employees? What do you consider fun? What do your employees consider fun? How much weight should be placed on fun versus work?

Creating a definition of your core values eliminates any confusion over the interpretation of the word. So for example, fun is approaching everything you do with a positive attitude, making work enjoyable for yourself and your co-workers and never taking yourself too seriously. This makes it abundantly clear what fun means as a core value within your company.

Live by your values

In addition to just communicating company values, you need to follow through and stand by those values every day. You can share a list of values as much as you want, but if you don’t lead by example your team will have no reason to practice them in the workplace. So if fun is a core value of your company, you need to show your employees that you embody this. It will be rendered meaningless if you have a negative attitude, take yourself too seriously and create an overall miserable work environment.

Communicate, define and remember that actions speak louder than words.

Eat lunch together

This may seem like a small gesture, but we believe it goes a long way in improving company culture. It can be all too easy to hide away in your office and eat lunch at your desk alone; however, taking half an hour to socialize and eat together in your common area can make a big difference in bonding employees and creating a more positive work environment.

“34% of employees don’t think they get enough social interaction with colleagues” –OfficeVibe

Eating lunch together is also good for employee wellness–it encourages people to take a real break, enjoy their food and get to know their co-workers on a more personal level. 

Create a “social budget”

In relation to employee socialization, creating a “social budget” is a great way to ensure that people have the opportunity to get to know each other outside of work time and the workplace. When employees have better relationships, the likelihood of a good company culture is much higher. People are generally happier if they have friends in the workplace and enjoy their co-workers. Additionally, employees will be more motivated to interact and work together to accomplish goals and solve problems.

So why not make a habit out of social time? Depending on your budget, try implementing weekly or monthly social outings–and let employees have a say in the activities.

Need some ideas? How about Happy Hour Fridays, mini-golf, rock climbing, or a comedy show? Dinner at a cool local restaurant is always a nice, simple option as well.

Practice “hygge”

You’ve probably heard the word hygge mentioned recently. It is the Danish concept of “coziness” and is explained as an atmosphere “about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and [we] allow ourselves to let our guard down.”

And hygge doesn’t just have to be for the home–the concept can also be applicable in the workplace.

hygge for the office

Image via squarefoot.com

People spend a large part of their time at work, so it’s only natural that they want it to be a comfortable and inviting place. Creating a hyggelig atmosphere will not only make your employees happier, but in turn, will lead to better company culture. So, we recommend designing your office with hygge in mind, replacing out-of-date items–like that ancient coffee maker–and encouraging openness and kindness among employees and management.

Recognize contributions

Recognition is key to increasing employee satisfaction and improving company culture. People want to be seen and appreciated for their hard work and contributions to the company. An OfficeVibe poll even revealed that “83% of employees think it’s better to praise someone than give them a gift.”

So what is the best way to give recognition? First, be sure to keep your employees and unique culture in mind when creating a recognition program. We recommend utilizing leaderboards and TV screens throughout the office to highlight milestones and give props for a job well done. In order to promote fairness, make sure to create different leaderboards that measure a variety of KPIs. Also, consider creating different groups for higher and lower performances so that everyone gets the chance to succeed.

When your staff is acknowledged and respected by both management and co-workers, they will become more motivated and engaged and thus start a positive cycle that fuels great company culture.

Be transparent

Transparency is often talked about in the workplace but rarely boiled down to an effective definition. Business Dictionary defines transparency as the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making. In other words, if you want your teams working together from the same sheet of music, you need to create transparency in the workplace. Otherwise, there will be the familiar chaos that all too common results from lack of information or understanding of goals.

When employees are armed with knowledge and openness, their work becomes more meaningful. In turn, they will be inspired to work harder. According to HBR, “70% of employees are more engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategies.”

People want to feel respected by management and feel like they are an integral part of the team. Transparency and awareness create engagement and productivity by helping everyone to focus on a common problem and cooperate together towards a solution.

This contribution of realistic ideas and solutions has a positive effect on both company culture and performance. In addition, employees gain a clear sense of purpose and feel that their contributions are valuable because they have a deeper understanding of how their work helps achieve the overall organizational goals.

Lead from the front

Does your culture flow from top-down or bottom-up? Ideally, culture should flow in both directions. Leadership sets the tone and the rest of the team is committed to keeping the momentum going. Good leadership is also the most important skill in management, so starting there makes sense.

Organizations spend billions of dollars annually trying to create a fun, efficient, award-winning workplace that is able to recruit, hire and retain top talent. The “Forbes Best Places to Work” list is just one such example. However, a key component of being a great place to work is having a clearly defined vision that is shared and understood by employees. Creating this vision is, of course, the task of leadership.

So, what can leaders do to create vision and lead from the front? Here are a few starters:

  • Provide clearly defined goals and expectations.
  • Show progress with regular updates and feedback.
  • Don’t overburden. Set realistic expectations.
  • Provide flexibility in task management.
  • Provide a sense of purpose that makes it clear what problem you are solving and why.
  • Recognize individual contributions and celebrate success together.

Decentralize control

“Never be the smartest person in the room.”

– Michael Dell

A key of leadership that most people overlook is that it’s not about being in charge, but rather about inspiring others. Give others the tools to get things done. Try to employ the “best idea wins” mindset and empower everyone in your organization to contribute, no matter what level they are at. If you give people freedom and flexibility, aligned with clear objectives, you’ll be amazed at what could happen.

Remember that culture is more important than salary

”89% of managers think that their employees leave for higher salaries when 80–90% of employees actually leave for reasons other than money.”

–Leigh Branham, Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business author

Contrary to what many managers think, salary is not the sole motivator for most employees. Of course salary matters to people, but only to a point. According to a Princeton study, “a salary of $75,000 a year is the magic number after which people’s day-to-day happiness no longer improves.” So what can managers do to retain and motivate their employees? Focus on culture.

If people are satisfied with the company culture at their organization, they are much more likely to stay. According to a study by Columbia University, the likelihood of job turnover at a company with rich company culture is only 13.9%, compared to 48.4% in companies with poor culture.  

Summary

Company culture is an important element of any successful business. A company’s culture defines who they are, what they stand for and how they face and overcome challenges. It’s much more than just the work environment and values that are posted on a wall somewhere. It’s about creating involvement, ownership, and purpose.

A company’s culture is its identity. Done wrong, it can result in turnover, retention issues, and employee engagement struggles. Done correctly, your culture will become the cornerstone from which the foundation of all is created. In many cases, people even value company culture over salary–”58% of millennials cited improved quality of work life as more important than financial benefits.”

Creating culture isn’t necessarily about the huge perks, but rather it’s about all the little things. Do you eat lunch together or spend time together outside of work? Do you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself and feel aligned to the mission and values of the work you do? Of course, setting the tone is leadership’s responsibility–but keeping the momentum going is everyone’s job. Done right, you will build a culture and a company that people respect and admire.

This guest post is by Victoria Richards of SalesScreen.com

Victoria Richards

Victoria Richards has a BSBA from the University of Denver and works in marketing at SalesScreen. She is based in Trondheim, Norway.

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