Maintaining a healthy workplace culture can be a major factor in staff development and retention. A negative or toxic culture can lead to unhappy or unengaged staff members, substandard work, unhappy patients, and high staff turnover. A bad workplace culture will likely push away the best people in your organization.
Studies show that at least one-third of job seekers would pass up the perfect job if the corporate culture was a bad fit, and in one survey 72% of workers cited corporate culture as a factor influencing their decision to work at a given company. Even more staggering, on a Jobvite survey of job-seekers who had left a job within the first 90 days, 32% listed company culture as the reason.
Culture and values act as decision-making rules for employees. If clear and understood, employees know how they can be successful, how they can contribute, and how they can move forward in their jobs. If employees know how they can be successful and are empowered to do so, then they are more likely to be engaged and happy in their work.
The management textbook Organizational Culture and Leadership defines workplace culture like this: “Culture is best thought of as a set of psychological predispositions called basic assumptions held by members of an organization and which tend to influence the ways in which they behave.”
More simply, workplace culture is “the way we do things around here.” Every company has a set of values, rules, attitudes, and even unwritten routines that make up its unique culture. Your culture will dictate the way your employees handle problems, interact with each other, and carry themselves on a day-to-day basis. That’s why, from a management perspective, it’s important to set your culture’s tone early on.
A great first step to improving your company culture is to evaluate your current culture. Ask your employees directly, through surveys, focus groups, or interviews conducted by a third party. You can also learn a lot through structured observations.
Investigate whether employee behaviors align with the company’s values. If one of your values is quality customer service, observe how employees interact with patients. Are they consistently providing a positive experience to every person, and meeting all needs in the best way possible?
Dig deeper and discover whether employees are mostly positive and energetic or stressed and inactive. If employees are friendly, polite, and inclusive of each other’s ideas, this is indicative of a positive culture. However, if employees are often short with one another or seem afraid to speak up, this is definitely a sign that your culture needs work.
Changing your company’s existing culture is not only going to be a time-consuming process, but it involves nearly every aspect of the organization. Keep the following tips in mind as you work to improve your company’s culture:
Demonstrate to employees that their involvement is critical. Invite employees to share their thoughts both during company culture discussions and during day-to-day operations.
Make sure management’s actions don’t clash with stated values. If the founder, CEO, or other leaders are not “walking the walk,” employees will not be inspired to do so either. Remain transparent in all dealings. Build trust with your team by being transparent about everything going on behind the scenes.
Correct negative behaviors quickly, before they become old habits that employees consider acceptable.
Align everything (department, initiatives, processes, etc.) to support company culture, and remind employees that they are invited to contribute to that culture through collaboration and innovation.
Celebrate the successes of all. Recognize achievements big and small. If the company has a win, let everyone bask in the glory. By rewarding positive behaviors, you can ensure employees continue these habits and, over time, others will adopt these behaviors, too.
Create a pleasant working environment. Focus on ensuring that your employees have the technology and protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Ensure that workspaces are comfortable and bright. These habits go a long way toward making your company a place where people want to come to work.