Hopefully, you’re a business owner that’s determined to create a great place to work. If so, you’ve probably already realized that a lot goes into cultivating a positive work environment for your employees, and if you’ve been working towards that goal for a while, you’ve likely seen the benefits that come along with treating your employees well.
When it comes to a positive workplace, how much does company culture matter to employees? And how can you build a great company culture?
We’re going to cover the basics in this article, including what makes up a company culture, why it matters, and steps you can take to strengthen your company culture.
What is company culture?
Company culture refers to the behaviors and attitudes of everyone inside a company from leadership to entry level. It’s about the company’s goals and how it reaches them.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System that CareerPlug follows defines company culture as, “The way your people in your company act and how they treat each other. It’s how it feels when anyone interacts with your organization.”
Culture consists of many elements, like:
- How coworkers communicate
- How information is passed down
- The company’s core values
- The company vision
- How decisions are made
- How people are hired and developed
Does company culture matter to employees?
How much does company culture really matter to employees? One study from Glassdoor presents some pretty powerful evidence:
- When searching for a new job, 77% of applicants said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.
- 65% of American millennials are more likely to care about work culture over salary.
- 89% of adults polled told researchers that it was important for employers to “have a clear mission and purpose.”
In our recent Toxic Work Environment Report, we asked hundreds of employees about what makes a great and not so great place to work and the changes they’d like to see their employers make.
We found that a whopping 87% of employees have experienced a workplace where a negative atmosphere caused by coworkers, supervisors, and/or the company culture, makes it difficult to work or progress in a job. We also found that 72% of employees have left a job because of a toxic work environment and 51% said they plan on leaving their current job for the same reason.
This suggests that employees really care about company culture and that the work environment can play a big role in employee satisfaction and retention.
How to strengthen your company culture
Company culture is fluid, meaning it can change. This is great news if you’re looking to improve your company culture and how your employees feel about it. Let’s go over some steps you can take to build a company culture or strengthen an existing culture.
1. Start with core values
Do you have clearly defined core values for your business? Do your employees know and relate to them?
Core values are the heart of company culture. CareerPlug Founder and CEO, Clint Smith, says, “Core values are what you, as a company, prize more than anything. They should guide everything that you do. If you are not sure about what direction to head in a tough situation, you should be able to look at your values to determine the right course of action.”
When defining your core values, think about your company’s mission. Gather with your leadership team and think about what you truly value as a company – what’s most important?
It can also be helpful to think about your top performers. What characteristics do they have in common? Think about other employees that weren’t a good fit for the company. Why weren’t they?
List out as many values as you resonate with to start. Narrow them down to four to five values that truly represent your company. Your core values should be a guidepost that help you make decisions for the business.
2. Share your vision
An important part of company culture is making sure that everyone in the company is on the same page. This means having a clearly defined vision and sharing that vision with employees often.
Everyone in the company should understand the vision and how they contribute to reaching it. This helps employees feel a more meaningful connection to their work and the company’s culture.
3. Hire for culture fit
Hiring plays a big part in company culture. As you bring more people onto your team, it’s important to make sure that they are aligned with your values and vision.
Before beginning the hiring process, consider creating an Ideal Candidate Profile that helps you get clear on the kind of person you need. Go back to your values and your culture drivers. What kind of characteristics does this person need to have to amplify your culture?
While evaluating candidates, always keep your culture (or the culture you’re trying to build) in mind. Evaluate for culture fit by writing interview questions tied to your core values and intentionally sharing your company culture as part of your employer brand.
4. Practice transparency
Transparency is an important part of creating a great company culture. Employees want to feel like there aren’t secrets in the business and that they have insight into how big decisions are made.
Practice pay transparency to build company culture. You can do this by:
- Including compensation in your job postings
- Making salary information for all roles visible to all employees
- Outlining a clear process for compensation increases
You might also consider being open about the business’s performance and sharing key company metrics with all employees. Empowering employees with more information helps them to have a greater sense of how their work directly impacts the business. Some benefits of transparency as it relates to company culture are: increased productivity, more trust, better communication, and genuine relationships between coworkers.
5. Check in constantly
Maintaining open lines of communication helps employees feel seen, heard, and understood. The good news is that this is a trend many employers seem to be following.
We found that nearly 76% of employees feel that they are able to voice their needs and concerns at work, and 74% said that their managers are open to receiving feedback and suggestions for how to improve the workplace.
Employee contributions are what shape a great company culture, and business owners should be open to hearing and acting on feedback.
In addition to communicating one-on-one with your employees, it can also be helpful to send out employee engagement surveys periodically to get a pulse check on how employees are feeling and if they are aligned with your culture and vision.
6. Show employees you care
A great company culture is one that makes employees feel valued and appreciated. Practice frequent recognition and give employees a platform for recognizing each other. We do this in our “Shout-outs” Slack channel and in every Friday afternoon company meeting, where employees show gratitude for team members that went above and beyond in living out our values that week.
Small, unexpected perks can also go a long way in showing gratitude. If possible, buy your employees lunch occasionally or sponsor a happy hour or game night. Bonus – these things can bring employees together to socialize, which can strengthen company culture even further.
The benefits of a great company culture
A strong company culture helps employees stay focused on your mission. It brings your team together to achieve a common goal. It can reinforce a strong employer brand and help you make better hires for your team.
Some of the other benefits of a strong company culture include:
- The likelihood of job turnover at an organization with strong company culture is about 14%, vs the probability of job turnover in weak company cultures is 48%.
- Happy workers are 12% more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10% less productive.
- Company culture can boost employee morale, increase productivity, and improve retention.
There are many ways to go about creating and amplifying a company culture, and the steps above are a great start. Get clear on your values and vision. Find ways to make these prominent parts of your worker’s daily lives, and let them guide your hiring process. Practice transparency and maintain open communication. Be willing to give and receive feedback and act on the suggestions of employees. Show employees that you care about them and recognize their contributions.
Taking the time to strengthen your company culture is a worthwhile investment of your time that will help your business succeed and grow.
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