White Papers / Influencer Series
How To Build A Positive Company Culture
by Alan Kohll
Forbes Contributor, Leadership Strategy
Company culture is an integral part of business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Without a positive corporate culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.
According to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that there is a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.
There’s a reason why companies who are named as a Best Place to Work see so much success. These organizations tend to have strong, positive corporate cultures that help employees feel and perform their best at work. Research gathered by CultureIQ found that employee’s overall ratings of their company’s qualities – including collaboration, environment and values – are rated 20% higher at companies that exhibit strong culture.
But why is corporate culture such an important part of a business? Take a look at some of the benefits of a positive company culture:
- Recruitment. Many HR professionals agree that a strong company culture is one of the best ways to attract potential employees. A positive culture gives an organization a competitive advantage. People want to work for companies with a good reputation from previous and current employees. A company with a positive culture will attract the type of talent that is willing to make their next workplace a home, rather than just a stepping-stone.
- Employee loyalty. Not only will a positive culture help recruitment efforts, it will help retain top talent as well. A positive culture fosters a sense of employee loyalty. Employees are much more likely to stay with their current employer when they feel they are treated right and enjoy going to work every day.
- Job satisfaction. It’s no surprise that job satisfaction is higher at companies with a positive corporate culture. Employers who invest in the well-being of their employees will be rewarded with happy, dedicated employees
- Collaboration. Employees are much more likely to come together as a team at companies with a strong culture. A positive culture facilitates social interaction, teamwork and open communication. This collaboration can lead to some amazing results.
- Work performance. Strong company cultures have been linked to higher rates of productivity. This is because employees tend to be more motivated and dedicated to employers who invest in their well-being and happiness.
- Employee morale. Maintaining a positive company culture is a guaranteed way to boost employee morale. Employees will naturally feel happier and enjoy their work more when they work in a positive environment.
- Less stress. A positive company culture will help significantly reduce workplace stress. Companies with a strong corporate culture tend to see less stressed employees, which helps boost both employee health and work performance.
One great example of a positive company culture comes from Sweetgreen. This fast-casual health foods restaurant believes that the most important ingredient to success is a positive company culture. Sweetgreen promotes a positive corporate culture by offering special perks that help boost positivity and morale throughout the company.
Some of Sweetgreen’s hallmark initiatives that have helped create a positive company culture include:
- Family Fund: Sweetgreeen provides emergency financial support for employees during times of need. It’s funded through voluntary paycheck deductions from corporate employees. The Family Fund has assisted team members in paying for temporary housing due to a fire and has also helped assist an employee who needed to travel to care for a sick loved one.
- Notes of Gratitude: Employers host a “Gratitude Night” to thank employees for making a positive impact on their customers. The corporate office reviews letters sent in from happy customers and writes personal, handwritten notes to employees who have helped these customers. This type of event highlights employee achievement and gives them some public recognition for their hard work.
- Working with Impact Projects: Sweetgreen offers employees the opportunity to get involved with impact projects to support the community. Sweetgreen recently partnered with the LA Food Policy Council to revamp a small, family-run grocery market.
Sweetgreen is just one example of the many forward-thinking companies that are dedicating their time and resources into building a positive company culture and supporting the well-being of their workforce. Other companies would greatly benefit from following the lead of these companies and building their own unique, positive culture.
One of the best things about building a positive culture is that it can be done with any budget, at any size company and within any industry. As long as employers take the time to genuinely invest in the happiness and well-being of their workforce, a positive culture will grow and thrive.
Employers can use the following tips to help build a positive corporate culture at their workplace:
Emphasis on employee wellness. No organization can expect to foster a positive culture without healthy employees. Employees need to feel their best – physically, mentally and emotionally – in order to contribute to a positive culture. In many ways, employee wellness is a foundation for a positive corporate culture. Leaders should ensure that employees have the resources, tools and on-site healthcare opportunities they need to live their healthiest life – inside and outside of the office.
Grow off your current culture. Building a positive corporate culture doesn’t mean employers should completely scrap everything their company currently stands for. Rather than expecting employees to do a complete 180, employers should work on enhancing the current culture they have. Ask employees what they do and don’t like about their current culture and work environment. Leaders should use these suggestions to help create a positive corporate culture that’s appropriate for their workforce.
Provide meaning. Meaning and purpose are more important in the workplace now than ever. A majority of employees crave meaning and purpose in their work. Without it, job satisfaction takes a major hit. And a company certainly can’t build a culture without any meaning behind its work. Create a mission statement and core values and communicate these to employees. Give employees specific examples of how their roles positively impact the company and its clients.
Create goals. No organization can have corporate culture without clear goals in place. Employers should gather with their team to create goals and objectives that everyone can work towards. Creating a company goal brings employees together and gives everyone something specific to work towards – other than a paycheck.
Encourage positivity. In order to build a positive culture, employers need to start by encouraging positivity in the workplace. It’s essential to promote positivity on a daily basis. Employers should lead by example by expressing gratitude, smiling often and remaining optimistic during difficult situations. Employees are much more likely to engage in positive behavior when they see their employers doing so.
Foster social connections. Workplace relationships are an essential element to a positive company culture. When employees barely know their colleagues and rarely interact, there’s no possible way for a strong culture to grow. Leaders need to provide employees with opportunities for social interactions in the workplace. Consider weekly team meals, happy hour excursions or even a book club to get things started.
Listen. Being a good listener is one of the easiest ways employers can start to build a positive culture. According to research gathered by CultureIQ, 86% of employees at companies with strong cultures feel their senior leadership listens to employees, as compared to 70% of employees at companies without strong culture. Listen to employees, and make sure they feel their voices are heard and valued.
Empower “culture champions.” Similar to “wellness champions,” culture champions are employees who embody the values and missions of a company. They are excited to promote a company’s aspirations and encourage others to do the same. Identify these employees and encourage them to keep spreading the cheer.
One of the most important roles a leader has is creating a positive culture. Be sure to cultivate a positive culture that enhances the talent, diversity and happiness of your workforce. Building a unique, positive culture is one of the best – and simplest – ways to get your employees to invest their talent and future with your company.