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How To Build A Strong Corporate Culture In Five Steps

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I strongly believe that a healthy culture is one of the fundamentals of a successful company. Every business has a culture, whether it was intentionally designed or shaped accidentally. The organization’s mission and values, leadership styles, expectations for employee behavior, daily business operations, decision-making processes, physical workspace and—most importantly—people all combine to create a unique environment. A positive culture can help attract and retain top talents, improve team performance and ultimately help businesses succeed in the market.

That’s why it’s essential to proactively build the culture you want to see in your company rather than leaving it to chance. I’d like to share five steps that I’ve found to be important when defining and building a corporate culture at my company.

1. Accept that company culture matters.

The first and perhaps most crucial step is to accept that “corporate culture” is not just another buzzword. It really matters because it can have a significant impact on your business. Just look at the statistics:

• Strong corporate culture attracts top talent. More than 75% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a job with them, and 56% of respondents said culture is even more important to them than salary, according to a 2019 Glassdoor survey.

• Positive culture improves retention rates. In a survey from earlier this year, FlexJobs asked 2,202 people why they wanted to quit their current job. A whopping 62% of respondents named toxic company culture as the primary reason, which ranked even higher than low salary (59%), poor management (56%) or lack of work-life balance (49%). A positive culture can help keep your best employees around over the longer-term.

• Good company culture increases productivity. Your company’s culture defines how employees communicate and collaborate with one another, which means it has a direct impact on their performance. A 2018 survey found that 76% of U.S. workers believe a positive work environment helps them be more productive and efficient, and 74% think it improves their ability to serve customers.

2. Define and share the company’s mission, values and goals.

The foundation of any strong culture is the company’s mission, values and goals. Employees want their time at work to mean something. That’s why it’s crucial to define and clearly communicate what your company aims to accomplish. Whether it’s saving the planet, producing the best ice cream in town, or, like at my company, helping as many people as possible fulfill their career dreams, you want to ensure that employees know their work has a purpose besides generating revenue.

While your mission gives people an understanding of why your company exists, core values describe how you work and who you are as a business. These guiding principles and beliefs define expectations for how people collaborate, make decisions and achieve results. Whatever your company’s values are—flexibility, teamwork or customer service excellence, for example—they have to be more than just hollow words. Your values should reflect how you actually do business.

And finally, clearly defined short- and long-term company goals help employees stay focused and motivated.

3. Encourage healthy communication.

Company culture becomes most apparent when team members interact with one another. Are they sharing ideas and concerns freely? How are conflicts resolved? Do employees receive sufficient feedback on their work? Do all meetings end with creating an action plan with specific tasks and deadlines, or do they just waste employee time? Are all team members treated with respect?

Rather than hoping people will cooperate the way you’d like them to, it’s better to outline the main principles you believe will help build a positive work environment and share them throughout the organization. Create communication guidelines, and make sure managers and executives lead by example. Train managers to tactfully address any issue, show everyone respect, support their employees and encourage open communication at all levels.

4. Prioritize employee well-being.

Employees who feel good at work are the heartbeat of a positive company culture, so don’t hesitate to invest in the well-being of your people. When it comes to benefits that improve company culture, employees consider professional development opportunities, flexible work schedules and mental health support to be the most important, according to a LinkedIn report on global talent trends. There are many different ways organizations can address these needs, including:

• Offering flexible working hours;

• Organizing mental health sessions such as meditations or training sessions;

• Providing enough paid time off;

• Creating employee support groups;

• Launching mentorship programs;

• Providing learning opportunities;

• Training managers to be empathetic leaders;

• Offering subscriptions to mindfulness apps.

It’s up to you to decide which initiatives will work best for your company.

5. Continuously monitor and nurture the culture.

Strong culture does not just appear overnight. Creating a positive work environment where everyone feels valued, respected and welcomed takes time, so your work is not finished after defining a few main principles. You have to promote them continuously and make sure everything your company does reflects your core values. Here are some things you can do to achieve these goals:

• Provide training programs for managers.

• Align recruitment practices with company values.

• Design a strong onboarding process to educate new hires.

• Continuously monitor employee engagement.

• Conduct regular surveys to gather feedback from employees at all levels.

• Monitor what your competitors do in terms of corporate culture.

You have to accept that your company will change and evolve over time—and so will your corporate culture. There’s nothing wrong with making small adjustments along the way as long as you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

A positive organizational culture is a constant work in progress. Although building it requires time and effort from managers, HR staff and all employees, the company could be rewarded with lower turnover rates, reduced retention costs, boosted productivity and increased team morale. And now, as the pandemic has changed how teams work in so many ways, it’s the perfect time for leaders to rethink how they run their organizations and start building truly amazing corporate cultures.

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