If you’d asked an employer about “company culture” before the 1980s, they might have looked at you as if you were asking if there was a teleportation device in the office. Yet, by the 1990s, the term was often used to describe a company’s character. Today, creating a culture that employees love is a priority for many businesses—and these strategies can help!
Building a positive culture can improve employee engagement, which can also better the bottom line. After all, replacing an employee can cost up to two times their salary, according to a “conservative estimate” in a 2021 Workhuman report. With 64% of their survey respondents having experienced burnout in their career, and 41% having done so in the “last few months,” making an effort to combat stress and isolation makes good business sense.
Further, Workhuman also reports that “happy employees are 98 percent more likely to identify with company values and goals.” Happy employees are more likely to do their utmost in service of clients and customers. They’re also going to be better brand ambassadors. They might encourage others to join the company, or speak highly of your organization to family and friends. Thus, cultivating a positive culture can also support your business branding and marketing.
Creating a culture that employees love can take many shapes. The following tips represent a roundup of the top strategies to improve employee perspective of your work culture.
1. Offer a sense of purpose
A positive culture starts with everyone feeling as if they are pulling in the same direction. Employees can see even the most tedious or mundane tasks in a better light if they understand how those responsibilities relate to organizational goals. Communicating strategy and aligning actions with business objectives can help provide your people with a sense of purpose.
Working with your employees to set clear individual goals can also help connect them to your culture. By making sure the objectives are measurable and reachable, you can add more motivation. You might consider rewarding those who accomplish goals. Verbal praise is a start, but bonuses, awards, and extra time off also work very well.
2. Show appreciation
Whether or not people have been thanked for their work plays a big role in employee retention. In Workhuman’s 2021 study, workers who had been recognized with a thank you in the last month were roughly half as likely to be looking for a new job (26% vs. 49%).
Additionally, those who were thanked in the last month and a half, when compared to those who never received gratitude were:
- Nearly 2x as likely to be highly engaged (60% vs. 32%)
- Nearly 3x as likely to agree their work has meaning and purpose (53% vs. 18%)
- More than 4x as likely to be happy at work (47% vs. 11%)
3. Give regular feedback
Especially in the wake of the pandemic and the shift to more hybrid/remote work, frequent check-ins and regular feedback can go a long way. Clear, consistent communication gives people a greater sense of meaning and purpose at work.
They are also more likely, according to Workhuman, to see a path to grow in the organization, trust their managers, and feel a sense of belonging at work.
Along with providing input, you’ll want to practice active listening. This can build a stronger relationship with employees. You’ll want to pay attention, ask follow up questions to ensure you understand, and reserve judgment.
4. Encourage breaks and time off
Taking a short break can benefit overall concentration and lower stress levels. This, in turn, improves mental acuity and can benefit productivity. On a larger scale, encouraging people to take full advantage of their time off can also help create a culture employees love.
Project: Time Off research found employees rate paid vacation as the second-most important benefit after health care. You can do your part to support your people taking time away from work. An individual may have a lot of PTO available, but they’ll still experience burnout if they feel they can’t step away without negative repercussions.
5. Support social interaction
No matter whether you’re entirely remote or everyone comes into the office every day, it is important to provide opportunities for social interaction. This could mean hosting lunch n’ learns, team dinners, happy hours, or even having people play with dart guns once a month.
Another approach is to create dedicated socialization spaces. Open-plan offices can create opportunities for unstructured interactions. Or you could install a few tables where people can play ping pong, pool, or table hockey.
As part of your support of social interaction, you might also offer activities that involve self-care and exercise. Encouraging employees to meetup for a mindfulness exercise, can bring people together while also giving their brains a break and helping to reduce stress. Also, setting up recreational sports teams or signing a group of interested walkers and runners to participate in a race together can connect people in new ways.
6. Provide psychological safety
Your business likely has policies in place regarding harassment, bullying, and violence. In a culture that employees love, your people will also feel psychologically safe.
What does psychological safety entail? Many things, including feeling confident you can:
- Share your own opinions
- Ask questions
- Voice concerns
- Speak freely about family or other work-life balance struggles
- Make mistakes
- Bring your full self to work
Promoting diversity and inclusivity is another way to support psychological safety. Demonstrating that equity is a core value at your workplace helps ensure employees feel secure that they can express their beliefs and fully represent their background or culture.
7. Counter bad behavior
This is part of providing psychological safety, but being willing to act when toxic behaviors shows up in the workplace is important enough to merit its own section. Depending on the behavior, you may have a legal obligation to act. Even when that isn’t the case, demonstrating dedication to identifying and addressing toxic behavior is essential to creating a culture that employees love.
If you have clear communication, are transparent, and encourage trust, it will be easier for employees to come forward with bad behavior concerns. You could have to hold individuals accountable, revisit policies, and set goals for specific changes.
8. Be flexible
Employees appreciate flexibility, especially working parents or those who are caregivers. In a 2022 Envoy survey, 63% of employees said flexibility makes them feel more empowered. Trusting your people to get the job done at the hours that work best for them can help them to better balance work and family responsibilities. Giving employees the leeway to achieve their goals on their own terms also shows that you respect them, which can improve their quality of work life.
People are happier to come in to work (and will do more for your business) if you offer them a positive culture. Improve engagement, reduce turnover, benefit brand loyalty, and enjoy better outcomes by taking steps to create a culture employees can love.
Want to know what’s working or and what’s not in your company culture? Use our employee engagement tools to learn more about how your people think and feel.