How to Improve Company Culture in 2023
It gets a lot of hype on ‘About Us’ pages, in job postings, and at work events, but that’s not enough when the very concept of company culture is evolving. Too many are now stale, toxic and desperately need fixing through a change in mindset and education in what culture really is, why it matters, and how every leader is a culture champion.
Thriving in 2023, and beyond, requires every organization to roll up their sleeves and start learning tangible ways to improve company culture.
Understanding the Importance of Company Culture
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek
Improving company culture doesn’t just mean Friday morning pastries, group lunches and occasional mini golf. Culture is the shared set of attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and values; how a company represents itself, inside and out, every day, how teams communicate with each other, and how engaged people are. It should be the foundation block of an organization.
Economic downturns lead to cutbacks, but culture must not be one of them. A toxic culture is the primary reason people quit their jobs, with culture being 10x more important than pay in predicting employee turnover (MIT Sloan Management Review).
People are people, not worker bees or robots, and diverse, top talent go where they feel safe, respected, inspired and empowered. If you want to attract and retain the cream of the crop, you need to continually evolve your company culture with the perspectives of your people. Companies that improve company culture and the experience of employees in a recession not only thrive in the short-term, but also see sustained long-term growth (Great Place to Work).
Role of Leadership in Shaping Company Culture
Culture really is a mirror of leadership. A toxic culture is very often a symptom of bad leadership. If your leaders are embodying all the qualities of a bad culture, employees will follow suit. The cultural norms of a team comes down the worst behavior the leader is willing tolerate. Improving company culture starts at the top, through leading by example, and with emotional intelligence, so that everyone can come together to bring that culture to life. You can’t expect of others what you’re not willing to do yourself.
Every touchpoint at every stage of the employee lifecycle is an opportunity to improve company culture – from onboarding, to developing people, to measuring progress.
Actions speak louder than words or ‘Our Values’ posters on the wall, too. Maintaining a strong and inclusive company culture requires intentional actions from leaders that create psychological safety and an empathetic environment of innovation and growth.
Key Strategies for Improving Company Culture
Fostering Open Communication and Trust through Vulnerability
Open communication should be constant from top to bottom of any organization. The way that trust is earned is through a simple, effective concept: psychological safety. The non-negotiable in the quest for psychological safety is vulnerability. Leaders can show their imperfections, talk about their struggles, their blind spots, and mistakes, so others can follow their lead. Open communication starts with leaders being open.
Psychological safety helps employees feel confident in expressing their own ideas without fear of ridicule. They feel a sense of belonging and empowerment and take greater ownership of the organization’s goals.
Leadership training and company culture training helps leaders to increase their self-awareness, become more attuned to the atypical needs of others, and create a more human, more inclusive company culture of mutual respect, that embraces the needs of every employee.
Encouraging Employee Engagement and Recognition
“Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team” – Jessica Herrin
Have you ever gone above and beyond, pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, knocked it out of the park, only for it to go completely unnoticed by those above? It’s a horrible feeling.
So, if an employee or team does a great job, leaders should recognize that, thank them for their efforts, and demonstrate that they are personally invested in employees’ development. We all know that when we're praised for hard work and great results, we feel valued, proud and more confident for next time. Even better, praise mistakes. Make it OK to fail fast and learn. Reward the cultural aspirations of the team.
Improving company culture involves adapting to employee needs, so ongoing feedback is vital. Without feedback, employees could feel they’re doing a great job, when they’re actually off course.
When employees feel their voices are being heard, creative thinkers rise to the top. Often, these superstars are your future leaders, so current leaders need to learn to prioritize listening, and recognize and develop them.
Leadership training goes a long way to improve company culture. Managers can feel confident in delivering effective types of employee feedback and better understand which type of feedback is most helpful for each person, in each situation.
Promoting Work-Life Balance
62% of people said that work-life balance was the most important part of workplace culture (Mavenlink). When you improve company culture so that people are better able to juggle these two parts of life, employees feel more motivated and energized. 89% of companies with a more flexible work schedule saw a boost in employee retention, saving thousands of dollars in turnover costs and productivity (Zippia).
Measuring the Impact of Positive Company Culture
Are your team's goals aligned with the organization's purpose and goals? How well does your team trust each other and communicate clearly? Do they fully understand their roles and responsibilities? Do leaders regularly take the time to observe team dynamics?
Measuring company culture and team alignment can be a challenge for many organizations. DX Learning’s The Alignment Shift merges cutting-edge science and immersive, experiential learning to remove gaps and blind spots, and teach leaders the key to measuring company culture effectively.
Implementing Change: Turning Vision into Reality
No bad culture is beyond repair. If the culture has become ineffective, ignored, or inconsistent, it’s up to leaders to take charge.
CEO of Dober, Chris Dobrez, knew that if you take your eye off culture, people will create the culture for you. Integrating DX’s The CARE Experience as an anchor for leadership behaviors helped Dober to improve existing efforts, and highlighted areas that they were blind to.
When you work to improve company culture through company culture training, you can reach new levels of diversity, agility, and responsivity to growth opportunities – and leadership’s commitment is essential. Get in touch and let’s discuss how DX’s leadership training programs, and Alex’s keynotes, can transform your teams.
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