7 Elements of a Great Workplace Culture
A lot has been written about the importance of having a great workplace culture, but what does a great culture look like? Perks, great snacks, and funky office decorations aside, there are much more important fundamentals that must be in place to build a positive environment where employees can be at their most productive and engaged.
1. Everyone understands how they contribute.
No one feels like a cog in some huge machine, performing a rote task with no meaning. Each and every employee understands the company mission and how they are helping to achieve it. And that doesn’t mean they have a lofty mission statement memorized—it means they should know how their daily work is affecting your company’s performance.
2. Employees are encouraged to learn and grow.
A great company culture encourages people to be creative and proactive about trying new things and accepts mistakes or failures as part of the learning process. The best companies actively train their employees or contribute to their schooling via tuition reimbursement, realizing it will only make their company stronger to have a more educated workforce. Smaller companies that may not have the resources to do so can still allow employees to leave early to attend classes or take a few personal days to get homework done.
3. Everyone can be themselves.
A great company culture must be preserved by hiring people who fit into that workplace culture. Diversity is extremely important, but you can hire people of all ages, races, religions, etc. who have a common work ethic and feel comfortable in your company’s environment. Hiring a person accustomed to working in Fortune 500 companies into your tiny start-up could be a mistake if you don’t make sure they are willing to make sacrifices in the resources at their disposal.
4. Corporate speak is minimal.
Every company has its own lingo of acronyms and product names, but communication should mostly be plain and open. If it’s the norm to call employees “resources” instead of “people,” or if “use” is constantly replaced with “utilize” it’s unlikely that your company has a truly authentic culture. Excessive corporate speak is usually a sign of a need to sound smarter or more important than one is, and a culture of high performers should have little need for it.
5. People have fun at work.
It’s called work for a reason, but a great culture fosters an environment where people feel free to laugh together and form friendships.
6. Teamwork happens.
A great company culture creates a collaborative environment where everyone works toward a common vision for the organization rather than solely looking out for themselves. When people hoard information or try to compete with others to get ahead, it’s a sure sign of a toxic culture where self-serving behavior is rewarded.
7. Recognition happens.
One complaint we’ve all heard (or had ourselves) about bad jobs is that people often hear nothing about their performance until they’ve made a mistake. Great companies make sure that employees are recognized for great work regularly.
If your company culture needs some work, it can be turned around, but it will take time. None of the above can be achieved with quick fixes or corporate initiatives. Improving a poor culture usually entails letting some employees and managers go, hiring new ones that better fit the culture you want, re-examining company policies, taking great care to articulate your company mission and values, and improving communications around those goals. Once your company culture has turned around, recognition and reward systems can be put into place to reinforce actions that align with your values and goals.