How To Create the Best Company Culture in 2023
Checking in On Your Company’s Core Values
Building a positive environment at work—the kind of place where people want to be employed—has to be intentional. Not only is employee happiness at stake, research by Deloitte found that focusing on company culture is crucial to an organization’s overall success.
Company culture doesn’t (necessarily) mean better snacks in the break room, but more of an overall set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that make up an organization, and are shared with employees at all levels. Exceptional companies take this a step further, creating and sustaining a culture that motivates and engages employees.
Even though companies of any size can develop a positive internal environment, many miss the mark. Research firm Gallup states only 23% of U.S. employees can apply their company values to their own work, and just 27% even believe in their own organization’s values.
With more employees moving to remote or hybrid work, the Great Resignation and an uncertain economy, it’s more critical than ever to review or develop a positive company culture.
The Benefits of Improving Company Culture
Businesses are often overly focused on metrics that improve the bottom line, leaving company culture to develop on its own with mixed results. But intentionally focusing on the human aspect of business, alongside financial goals, will reap important benefits. These include:
- Better recruitment. Savvy potential employees will check out a company’s culture and job satisfaction of others before accepting a position. Word gets around when an organization has a strong company culture and a positive reputation among current and past employees. If you develop a positive company culture, use it in your recruitment!
- Retention and Brand Strength. Talent that understands your culture going in will help deliver on your brand’s promise. They become part of the company’s core values and success. When staff are more satisfied with their work environment, company loyalty grows, adding benefits like better customer service, higher productivity, and profitability. Putting a positive, collaborative culture in place will help attract employees that are looking for longevity and compel existing workers to stay, rather than viewing their employment as a career stepping stone.
- Better teamwork and results. A well-balanced work culture considers human needs for socialization and fosters team collaboration. When employees effectively work well together, there is less conflict to manage, there is more motivation and overall higher quality of work.
Less stress. Healthy company cultures see fewer stressed employees and greater wellness among staff. Less stress reduces healthcare costs and turnover.
Employees realize benefits from a positive company culture too, especially when they investigate a company’s core values in advance. According to recruitment firm Glassdoor, prospective employees that make a good match with a company’s culture:
- Feel more valued at work
- Work cohesively with team mates
- Enjoy effective communication
- Have a good match to desired benefits
- Become more engaged over time
- Are more loyal to customers and the company
- Can realize more rewards as their success grows
What is a Positive Company Culture?
A company’s core values center on its people. Leadership may have a vision, but it will be the employees who carry it out every day. Moving a vision and values to a strong culture requires creating an operational structure where the culture will live. The more successful organizations build this with an emphasis on employee well-being, including valuing retention and fostering advancement, embodying loyalty and motivating individuals to bring the vision to life.
This is a great framework in theory, but how does a company do this in practice? There are successful strategies that several industry leaders deploy. These can apply to organizations of any size, creating a collaborative environment with higher productivity and an enhanced bottom line.
Pre-work: Identifying Company Characteristics
Each organization is different. Before crafting the structure of a company culture, Harvard Business Review suggests putting some thought into your unique business characteristics, including:
- Vision—This could be a simple slogan reflecting your company or a longer mission statement.
- Values—The thinking and perspective necessary to implement the vision.
- Practices—Tangible methods to implement your values.
- People—Are you recruiting staff that will reflect the culture you intend to build? How will you guide current staff to bring corporate culture to life?
- Narrative and Place—What is your company narrative or origin story? What is significant about where you have chosen to do business?
- Teamwork—Are employees encouraged to train and work together? Is there camaraderie and trust that they are working toward common goals?
- Innovation—How can the company innovate?
- Leadership—Are C-suite executives accessible and supportive of employees?
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Developing Your Company Culture Plan
There is more than one way to build a company culture and several excellent resources available to help. However, the steps below provide a solid outline for developing a plan, once leadership has completed the pre-work thought process.
- Define the vision for the company vision, including values and behaviors.
- Be inclusive. Gather feedback from employees about your company’s values, ideas, and work methods to improve the workplace environment and performance. Some feedback, such as a survey, could be anonymous to encourage honest participation. Be open and fully consider things brought up.
- Besides internal information gathering, take the extra step of meeting in person with facilitated small discussion groups, town hall-type meetings to engage your employees and give them a voice. The owner or boss can provide the meeting framework, but typically would not lead these discussions.
- Establish methods, such as collaborative training at regular intervals, to communicate company values/behaviors and determine how well they are embraced.
- Develop high-quality internal communications to maintain consistent contact with employees about company goals, the working environment, and positively acknowledge employees’ roles in the company’s success.
- Establish guidelines that reinforce company values. For example, work phone calls, emails, or texts should not disturb employees during vacations or other types of time off.
- Recognize employees positively and publicly, rewarding their contributions to the company’s success.
- Create a consistent and supportive environment by ensuring management maintains a consistent behavioral approach to operations rather than cutting corners.
- Establish a method to be approachable so that all employees may address their concerns and feel connected/of value.
- Foster teamwork rather than silos and isolation.
- Incorporate diversity and inclusion goals. A company culture can celebrate the differences among people while still encouraging consistent behavior from everyone.
Timing is especially critical in 2023, as financial experts say we are still likely facing a recession. Building a strong corporate culture can help companies hold on to exceptional talent and maintain forward progress under challenging circumstances. Leadership that takes this mission to heart will be in a better position to thrive when the economic times turn more favorable.