Your company is like a tiny community. Everything that affects one part of the business has an impact on all the other areas. As with all communities, there is a positive culture within the organization. This culture involves rules governing things like dress codes and behavior. Culture can also dictate unwritten practices, such as giving Larry in Auditing a bit of slack when he’s disorganized because everyone knows he struggles with ADD. Written or unwritten, company culture helps determine the entire environment of the workplace. Let’s take a look at the top five ways you can help improve your company culture.
What Is Company Culture?
Company culture includes just about everything that affects the day to day and overall interactions of the staff. It includes things like rules, language usage, the symbols and objects that remind people of the company, and more. You can stroll through an office and get an idea of what the company culture is like by looking around you. Are the office staff interacting with each other, or are they quietly doing their own thing in separate cubicles? Do desks look bare, or does the company encourage individuality? Individuality appears by family photos on desks or a child’s drawing pinned to a wall or other items that personalize the workplace.
Other things that help determine company culture include the level of power each person holds, how workers communicate with authority figures and handle clients, and what stories or legends new workers learn shortly after starting. Company culture appears in places where lunches and breaks take place, what everyone wears, and the overall feel of the environment.
Why Is Company Culture Important For Your Business?
Knowing the company culture will make everyday life there run more smoothly. It helps new employees get an idea of what it is like to work with this group of people. Hiring people who can easily fit into the current company culture makes it possible for production to continue without interruption. It also allows for better relationships between employees. Conflict can destroy a company, and it does so quickly. If everyone is on board with the company culture, any dispute can clear rapidly and without much upset.
Does your Company Culture Need Improvement?
Your company may be humming along fine, but everyone can use some improvement. How do you figure out where your particular company is doing well and where growth can benefit? It takes some observation with an open mind. The following hints will help you narrow down any problematic areas.
Inspect Your Present Culture
The best clue that there is a problem with the company culture is that you keep losing your best employees. When there is an issue, people with the most exceptional talent will often feel it is better to move somewhere that fits better with their mindset. They put a lot more emphasis on job satisfaction than other factors. If your turnover is high, it is time to look for a problem.
Understand the Problems in Your Company’s Culture
Before you can solve a problem, you need to understand the problem. If you can’t put it into words, then you need to do more research. Silently observe the daily activity going on. Speak with employees and let them know you genuinely want to know their opinion. Making changes is essential, but you want to take the time to understand where the changes are required, or any changes you make will fail to achieve what you are seeking to accomplish.
Steps to Improve Your Company Culture
Once you know where your company culture needs tweaking, implement the changes in a manner that doesn’t cause too much shock to the company. You don’t want to make changes too drastically or too quickly, but instead ease into the turns. Follow the steps below to get your company on track to some positive changes.
1. Be Transparent
Transparency is necessary. Open up to your employees and let them know what you see. Tell them how you would like to see things change and what you plan on doing to make that change. Honesty and openness will go a long way toward gaining their cooperation.
2. Implement Modern Communication and Collaboration Tools
Communication is one of the most essential things in any environment, and that includes your company. Let your employees know you are willing to utilize the most current communication methods if it helps improve things. For example, you may be finding that attendance at training or even regular staff meetings is an ongoing problem. Using Skype or Zoom is a great way to help make these things more accessible to everyone.
Online Chat & Collaboration
Google Apps for Business and other collaboration tools will allow employees to make changes in real-time. Chat can enable everyone to connect even when everyone isn’t able to be in the same location. By centralizing things like projects, your employees and clients benefit from the combined efforts of everyone in the company.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world how vital video conferencing could be. Programs such as Zoom allow all your employees and management to be in contact regardless of time differences and distance. Video conferencing allows more opportunity for people who work remotely or for companies with multi-country presence. Zoom enables quick response to emergencies and will give clients the benefit of speaking with multiple team members when necessary. Zoom and other video-conferencing tools can bring the entire company together when needed.
Managing Projects & Tasks
One way you can improve the company culture is to make working on projects as easy as possible. There are many programs available that can help bring everyone’s efforts together in one place and make it easy to keep track of things like who does what tasks when things need worked on, and even brainstorming sessions and finding flaws in the plans.
Trello is an excellent program for list-making and project tracking. It works well with many other programs and offers everyone a picture of what tasks have reached completion and which ones still need to work. Jira is perfect for companies that require specialized software that is not available in the general market. This program is efficiently designed to create solutions for your particular company’s needs and will quickly help you work out any bugs so you can be functional immediately. Asana is an all-around project planner. It incorporates list-making, chart building, and a calendar. You can move things around, create an idea board for brainstorming, and keep track of important details like who is responsible for what and when a step is completed. Everyone stays conveniently on the same page with these types of apps.
3. Recognize and Reward Valuable Contribution
Encourage employees to talk about their successes and challenges. Make it a regular habit for employees to encourage their coworkers and step in with advice and help when needed. Recognize the efforts of everyone and give rewards such as promotions and raises for exceptional work. Your employees need to know they are valued every day. Feeling important will make times of struggle easier for everyone, and help employees to keep working through the hard times and eventually into better days.
4. Practice Flexibility
Flexibility is essential for any organization to move forward. Flexibility is being a bit tolerant of the dress code or making schedule changes that enable an employee to accomplish their work and not have it interfere with home life. You don’t have to allow jeans and t-shirts in a formal-type office, but consider allowing women to wear pants and a blouse instead of dresses. Or letting your male employees wear a blazer and no tie instead of a suit jacket will make a difference in how comfortable the employees feel. If the current office setup doesn’t work for the majority of employees, consider changing it around. For example, if your office design includes all tiny cubicles, the employees might prefer a more open environment. You could achieve this by creating little “islands” of the activity or opening up the entire room, maybe allowing for portable screens when privacy is necessary. Let your employees know you are willing to adapt and be flexible whenever possible.
5. Encourage a Strong Team Atmosphere
Encouragement and praise from your superiors are always welcome. Employees need to know they are seen and recognized. However, coworkers may even be more critical. These are the people they spend the most time with during their day. Your coworkers should be almost like family. It helps if management can encourage bonding between employees. Suggest a stop for a drink after work or arrange occasional dinners for the staff. Bring things like donuts or a cheese tray to meetings. Provide cakes for employee birthdays and encourage the other employees to sign a card or spend a few minutes celebrating the event in the break room. Make any success public knowledge. Put out a monthly newsletter and arrange holiday events. The more time your employees spend seeing their coworkers as merely human, the higher the chances they can work together in all manner of circumstances.
Strive to Develop An Outstanding Company Culture
Any social unit, whether it is a family, a business, or a town, is only as secure as its culture. Culture combines both tradition and growth. By striving continually to improve the company culture, you send the message to your employees that they are valued and that you notice them. Having a well-received company culture is easy to maintain with transparency and an open mind and willingness to listen. In the end, everyone from management to client, and everyone in between, benefits.
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