Company culture may be seen as just another buzzword, co-opted by the startup generation and turned into a swag-toting, ping pong playing caricature of itself. But the reality is that knowing how to improve company culture is still an integral part of building a successful business — even if you don’t have the budget for free snacks and nap pods.
If you’re ready to learn how to improve company culture to engage your workforce, download our 15 Best Practices for Employee Engagement ebook.
Believe it or not, you can create a dynamic, inclusive, and productive company culture without spending a fortune on office toys.
Our definitive guide to all things company culture will help break down what company culture really means, why it’s important, and how to build a high-performing culture at your organization.
Let’s get started.
What Is Company Culture?
Essentially, company culture is the overarching set of values, behaviors, and beliefs that make up an organization. In other words, it’s the vibe of a company, and employees feed off of that vibe. When a culture is good, employees are engaged and productive, and retention is high. Word gets around about these companies and they attract top talent as a result.
But what do solid company culture ideas actually look like?
Let’s take a look at what makes a good company culture.
1. Employee Feedback
Employees want to feel like their concerns are being heard. When a company lacks strong internal communications, workers could end up feeling like they have no option to give feedback.
To combat this, many businesses are turning to business communication apps to improve internal communications at their organization and create a better experience for their employees. These platforms provide a simple and easy way for management to engage with their employees and receive feedback from their frontline teams.
2. Diversity and Inclusion
The character of a company’s corporate culture is directly tied to the successful promotion of diversity and inclusivity. Your company culture ideas should foster an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation for all employees.
Here are some tips on how to do this.
- Educate your business leaders on how to interact with all team members
- Avoid stereotyping and making assumptions
- Eliminate discrimination of any kind
3. Training and Professional Development
Investing in employees is one way of showing your team that you care about them while also adding value to your organization. Encourage your employees to attend professional development conferences, additional training, or further their education. Use your workforce app to upskill your teams, offering training videos that employees can participate in at their convenience.
4. Recognition and Advancement Opportunities
Employees want to know that the work they’re doing is noticed (and appreciated). That’s why recognizing employees who go above and beyond is a key part of successful company cultures.
Pro tip: Recognition doesn’t always have to be monetary, but it should be timely and public.
Beyond recognition, employees want to know that it’s possible for them to move up in the company. Ensure employees know when positions open up so they can see the opportunities that are available.
5. Clear and Defined Purpose
Your employees should be able to understand and communicate what your company’s purpose is. That purpose gives employees something to focus on. They can set achievable goals and see how they are helping the company directly. As an added bonus, a defined purpose doesn’t just help employees. It also boosts the confidence of your company’s stakeholders.
6. Leadership That Practices The Culture They Preach
While a great culture makes room for bottom-up communication, culture itself must be created and led from the top. Simply writing about your values on your company website isn’t enough. Leaders need to embody the values and behaviors they want to see reflected in their employees.
Institute policies that actually create culture. If you stress the importance of work-life balance, offer flex-time arrangements for employees. Model the behavior yourself. If you stay at work late regularly, employees will feel pressured to do the same.
7. Inclusive, Transparent, and Authentic Communication
Communication is an essential part of company culture. It should be a two-way street with both leaders and employees contributing to internal dialogue. Good communication is also:
- Inclusive: A successful culture encourages every employee to have a voice.
- Transparent: Leaders are honest with their words and share corporate insights with employees.
- Authentic: There is an effective dialogue in the workplace with active listening and empathy.
8. A Safe Environment in Every Way
Culture is often identified by those workplace perks that make a company fun to work for. But there’s another responsibility of culture—creating a safe space for every employee. From prioritizing workplace safety in a manufacturing facility to a zero-tolerance for any form of discrimination, a company and its leaders must ensure the safety and well-being of their entire staff.
Why Is Company Culture Important?
The beliefs and values that guide behavior in a company might seem like an intangible part of business. But culture is inextricably linked to your company’s bottom line. And at the heart of a high-performing culture is a communication strategy centered around a digital workplace.
How a Digital Workplace Supports Company Culture
Great leaders prioritize culture as a strategy rather than letting it evolve on its own. They recognize culture as a defining element of the workplace experience. The environment you provide for your employees touches every business goal you’re trying to reach. The key to improving workplace culture is ensuring every employee feels important and included.
Heather Oliver, SHRM-SCP, SPHR Founder and CEO of Culture Strategies, Inc. works with executives to rethink and leverage corporate cultures that will maximize business returns by strengthening their workforce.
“A purposeful organizational culture positively affects every part of a business. It increases your employee value proposition which differentiates you in attracting and retaining top talent. It increases productivity and effectiveness, leading to an enhanced customer experience and profit. It increases your overall competitive edge.”
Learn more about professional and organizational culture in our Bee School Series!
A Digital Workplace Fuels Engagement and Increases Retention
Companies with distributed workforces have notoriously high turnover rates because employees don’t feel a connection to their jobs. In fact, only 13% of frontline workers are fully engaged at work.
They’re often on the periphery, and sometimes not taken into account at all. But your mobile workforce needs to be a factor in every business decision you make, especially when it comes to your communication strategy. Your bottom line rests firmly on the employee experience.
Pro tip: Build a results-driven culture by prioritizing an internal communications strategy and tools that drive engagement and increase retention.
How A Digital Workplace Creates a Collaborative Culture and Inspires Innovation
Having friends at work plays a big part in the employee experience. It creates a sense of belonging, builds trust, and boosts happiness and productivity.
A digital workplace also makes innovation easier than ever by creating a space for employees to participate. Mining this untapped resource for ideas can increase your product or service offerings. So remember to look out for employees with great ideas.
Improving Company Culture for Your Employees
It’s more important than ever for a company to have a culture that precedes it. The growing millennial workforce is fluid, changing jobs regularly in search of a better fit.
Companies are losing valuable time (and a lot of capital) on recruiting, hiring, and training employees. Improving workplace culture can help your business attract and retain top talent.
So if you’re looking for company culture ideas, here are three that we recommend.
5 Easy Ways to Transform Your Company Culture
Companies with successful cultures have low turnover, a thriving workforce, and solid productivity that gives them a competitive edge in the marketplace. Most importantly: they embrace technology to promote their culture and align every employee with the company’s mission.
1. Create an Inclusive Culture With a Digital Workplace
How can you do this? Hold office hours. Dedicate time every week to be available for your frontline employees. Ask questions. Solicit ideas, and encourage feedback.
Discover how a Digital Workplace Helped Wireless Vision Build Their Company Culture
Pro tip: Open communication is an easy way to improve company culture.
2. Build a Diverse Workforce for an Innovative Culture
Build on your company’s diversity through targeted recruiting efforts that connect with a wider range of applicants. Investing in a diverse workforce directly impacts business performance, delivering a 33% greater return than the average company.
Educate employees on cross-cultural communications with their colleagues. One way to do this is by utilizing a mobile workforce app. Companies can use their employee app to provide literature, training videos, and other resources to support diversity.
When employees are connected to their peers, they are 20% more productive at work.
3. Create a Circular Workforce Economy for a Culture of Growth
Companies spend money hiring and onboarding employees and usually stop there. Invest — and reinvest — in your employees while improving company culture. Develop a circular workforce economy by putting resources back into your workforce to develop a culture that promotes growth and cultivates leaders from within.
Upskill your employees. These days, most professional development training happens online. In order to make your materials easily accessible for your frontline employees, consider using a team app to upskill your employees and make training materials mobile-friendly.
Employee-led initiatives. If an employee brings you an idea that has potential, let them take the reins. This investment will create a culture of growth for both your employees and the company.
4. Create a Space for Collaboration
Your company should facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration. Whether it happens organically or by design, foster an environment where employees can engage freely with one another to toss ideas around. You never know where your next great idea might come from.
Collaboration also forges those workplace connections and friendships—essential factors that determine whether someone likes their job. Forming bonds at work make people happier and stay longer.
5. Practice Regular Recognition
Notice a theme here? Recognition has been mentioned a few times, and for good reason. Employees have a positive response to their managers noticing when they excel at their jobs. Recognition really is as simple as acknowledging an employee’s work and showing your appreciation publicly for it.
If you don’t already do this, start incorporating this practice into your communication, and train your managers to do the same.
How to Merge Company Cultures
According to one of the world’s largest accounting advisories, KPMG, people and organizational issues are the biggest reason why mergers or acquisitions fail. And in a recent Bain survey, the top reason cited for failure during this phase was different company culture mergers. So how can your company avoid the culture clash in the event of a merger?
Start Early With Different Company Cultures
It’s important for companies not to overlook potential culture issues when performing due diligence pre-merger. Of course, there are always going to be some issues when two corporate cultures merge, but both sides should be aware of how big the problem will be before moving forward. That way a plan can be put in place from the beginning.
Create Measurable Goals
Executives from both companies should work together to create real, tangible goals and make sure progress toward those goals can be measured. For example, instead of simply encouraging teamwork between the newly emerged workplaces, there should be a set number of collaborations required.
Be Honest and Transparent
It’s a tough but crucial part of mergers: not everyone is going to survive. Not only will there often be redundancy, but some employees who were thriving in the original corporate culture won’t be able to transition to the new culture. That’s why it’s important to communicate clearly and honestly about any layoffs, and to allow employees who want to leave to do so as quickly as possible.
What Does a Great Company Culture Look Like?
We’ve talked a lot about company culture theory, best practices, and how it can impact your workforce.
But what does it look like in practice?
Let’s take a look at how one of the most popular American pizza chains — MOD Pizza approaches their company culture to give you an idea.
How MOD Pizza Brought Their Team Together and Created a Thriving Company Culture
With 6,000 employees and counting, Megan Hansen, SVP of People at MOD Pizza, knows firsthand how important it is to successfully connect a fast-growing, dispersed workforce of frontline workers.
MOD Pizza is seriously passionate about their company culture. So when they came to us looking for a solution to their internal communication challenges, we couldn’t wait to get started.
After opening about 100 stores each year over the past two years, MOD Pizza needed a digital communication solution. They also needed something that could scale quickly and support the internal communication goals of the expanding company.
Keep in mind that the majority of employees at MOD Pizza don’t have a company email address. Also, employees don’t have a centralized system, like an intranet to get information.
As a people-focused company, MOD Pizza needed a solution to unite their team ASAP.
Prioritizing Employee Experience Leads Thriving Company Core Values
Along with their four core values — grit, growth, generosity, and gratitude —helping MOD Pizza employees with their professional development is at the heart of MOD Pizza’s purpose.
Since the majority of their workforce is frontline employees who don’t have a company email address, they felt that the best way to reach their team was by adopting an employee app that would allow them to chat, share announcements, and easily find information.
As a nimble, friendly, and super easy to use team app, Beekeeper was a natural solution. So, MOD Pizza decided to nurture their thriving company culture through direct, two-way communication.
The executive team holds a biweekly huddle to talk through operational needs and share customer insights. Since storytelling is so integral to MOD’s culture, their People Team often leverages customer stories in their employee engagement efforts.
Prior to Beekeeper, this storytelling was more siloed without an adequate platform for sharing.
“Everyone at MOD is responsible for company culture,” notes Hansen.
Remember, culture is the unseen set of values and behaviors of a company that defines the workplace experience. A great culture is built on two absolutes that forge a collective purpose:
Culture must include every employee. From the C-suite to frontline employees, the most successful cultures are all-inclusive.
Culture must be authentic. Every value you preach and policy you implement must be authentic, not just corporate lip service.
While flashy office perks may be impressive to a wide-eyed new hire, if you truly want to retain your top talent, it’s going to take more than free cold brew and Doritos. It’s about offering long-term stability, room to grow, and time for innovation.
Ready to start improving your company culture? It all starts with communication.