First off, in order to improve your company culture, you need to understand what the phrase entails. Essentially, it’s a little bit of everything. Beginning with your mission and core values, to how your employees carry themselves, to what type of approach you have as far as customer service. Some companies, for instance, will stress transparency and trust as paramount to their culture, while others focus on giving back and having a positive impact on their community. Company culture is basically what you make it—as the owner, you have a responsibility to set the tone and establish the sort of model you want your team to follow.
Increasingly, this concept of company culture is becoming more and more important in terms of how a business is viewed and consequently received. Your culture is impactful—so how can you improve it? Unfortunately, this isn’t a quick fix. It takes time, patience and diligence. Below are a few ideas you might try when it comes to making your company culture better.
It Starts with YOU
You are the leader; you thus have a responsibility to help shape that company culture. From clearly elucidating goals and objectives, to defining your vision both for employees and consumers, you need to get across that message and keep expressing it until it’s no longer merely a message, but a way of doing business.
Why would your employees be passionate about their jobs, about what your company stands for if you’re not? They are motivated by your passion, by your excitement for new ideas and new projects.
Cultivate a Team Atmosphere
You may be the owner, but you need to make your employees feel as though it is a true team effort. You simply cannot do it alone—let them know that. Show them how valuable they are and how important to the success of the business. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage your employees to share ideas, offer suggestions, and then take the time to actually listen.
Don’t Ignore the Culture You’re Establishing
It is all well and good to define a company culture, but unless you actually implement it, it is merely paying lip service to an ideal. You have to follow through, work hard at it and reinforce the concepts associated with your company culture at every turn.
Empower Your Employees
Showing your employees respect certainly goes a long way. You can do this in part by giving them some additional freedom—to make decisions, execute their ideas, spearhead projects. The more powerful they feel within the context of their job, the more willing they’ll be to put it all out there for the company.
Feedback: Give It and Ask For It
Of course, you’re going to give your personnel instructive feedback at various times. You also though, should solicit feedback. This allows you to keep a more open channel of communication. And rather than have their frustrations simmer and ultimately lead to negative ends, they feel that they can approach you. Problems get solved much easier this way.
A Policy of Transparency
If you want everyone on the same page, you have to have a policy of transparency. Make everyone aware of crucial changes; again, ask for that feedback. Even something as simple as changing a vendor, make this a topic of discussion in which a number of voices are heard rather than dismissed.
Deal With Conflict
Ignoring conflict will not make it go away. In fact, if anything, said conflict will escalate. Address problems before they grow and subsequently spread. This may be where you bring HR in to help diffuse a situation. They are trained in precisely these types of conflict resolution strategies.
Be Sure to Recognize Hard Work
Everyone likes to be told that they’re doing a good job. Yes, they get paid and there may even be bonuses, but something as simple as recognizing effort really is essential to healthy company culture. Small gestures are hugely important.
In terms of offering on-site benefits, this can be a way to make it so that your employees like to come to work, more so than they would otherwise. For instance, do you have a kitchen stocked with complimentary beverages? Or maybe on Friday, treat your employees to lunch. They simply want to know that you are invested in them as much as they’re invested in the company.
Gone are the 9 to 5 jobs in which employees punch in and out. Many companies are taking a far more flexible approach to both work hours and time off. You want your employees to be happy, you want them to feel empowered. Trusting them to get their job done while at the same time doing so around a more flexible schedule helps show that you have trust in them. This ultimately leads to a much happier workforce.
Volunteering is Important Too
Giving back shouldn’t just be something that you say—it should be something your company actively implements. Look around your community, what projects might you undertake to help in significant ways? Maybe do something for the regional schools, or start a food drive for those in the community that is less fortunate. Make it a team effort whatever you decide to do.
A Strong Company Culture Takes Time
This list of suggestions is by no means comprehensive. Spend some time thinking about what you’d like your company culture to reflect, to stand for, to reveal about who you are as a team and as a business. Little things do have an impact, so don’t dismiss simple ideas. Really get to the heart of who you are as a company and start there. The more pronounced and dynamic your company culture, the better your team will feel about their jobs and purpose. This then will impact your customers as well, until you’ve established something about which you can be truly proud.