There’s becoming an increasing awareness of the factors that drive organizational culture. Leaders are recognizing that culture is more than simply physical proximity, especially with the prevalence of distributed work.
Organizational culture can be defined as the beliefs, behaviors, and norms that exist within a company. Gallup narrows this definition down to simply “how things are done around here.”
Whether your company is in-person or remote, however, ensuring your corporate culture is positive is important. Here’s an overview of the importance of organizational culture, and nine ways to improve it.
The Importance of Positive Company Culture
Culture plays a crucial role in an organization’s success. It’s the people that drive a company, so their satisfaction should be a high priority for business leaders.
According to research from Gallup, a positive corporate culture yields the following organizational benefits:
- Easier ability to attract employees
- Higher retention rates
- Improved productivity
- Improved employee wellbeing and safety
- Enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Better customer satisfaction
Improving your culture is easier said than done, however. It involves more than just offering free snacks and coffee.
The extent to which you can influence the overall company culture may vary based on your position within the organization. Even those in higher positions may face challenges when attempting to impose culture on an organization with existing implicit beliefs and behaviors.
If you’re searching for ways to improve your company culture, HR policies alone aren’t enough. Below are nine ways to improve your organizational culture.
9 Ways To Improve Company Culture
1. Value Your Employees
If your current organizational culture results in your employees being treated like cogs in a machine rather than individuals, you’re likely going to have a problem with retention. Unfortunately, this is the reality for far too many companies.
Gartner reports that 82% of employees believe it’s important for their company to see them as a person, but only 45% of employees actually say their company views them that way.
To address this issue, Gartner advises companies to prioritize the following:
- Wellbeing: Offer resources to improve employee wellbeing, and ensure that your employees take advantage of these resources.
- Flexibility: Beyond simply allowing employees to decide where and when they work, give your team a sense of autonomy and ownership of their work.
- Personal growth: Not just career development opportunities, but also opportunities for your employees to grow as individuals.
- Shared purpose: Make sure your company’s values are reflected in its actions, not just empty words.
- Connection: Improved sense of belonging on your team, as well as opportunities to disconnect from work and connect with family.
Teamraderie experiences are live virtual workshops led by various experts such as professors, athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and more. They’re an excellent way to show your team that you value them as individuals.
Our experiences can give your team a needed break from work, offer a new perspective, teach them a new skill, or simply improve their overall sense of connection and inclusion.
2. Identify Implicit Beliefs
If your company has shifted from in-person to a work-from-home (WFH) or hybrid environment, it’ll be tricky for you to adapt your culture accordingly.
When your team operates in-person, culture is often shaped by many implicit beliefs that, while not articulated, are assumed based on face-to-face interactions. In hybrid or WFH environments, however, communication channels change and it might be harder to continue many of these implicit behaviors virtually.
To account for this, Gartner recommends that leaders do the following:
- Identify implicit beliefs: Examine your team’s beliefs and behaviors, and identify those beliefs that haven’t been explicitly spoken, but have existed nonetheless.
- Illuminate these beliefs: Ensure that implicit beliefs become explicit by shining a light on them.
- Reshape them: Determine whether these beliefs are able to transfer to a hybrid or remote environment—or whether they should be at all—and what has to happen in order for that to be accomplished.
Many components of workplace culture were designed with in-person interactions in mind. For hybrid and WFH companies, these components must be challenged and reshaped to fit the WFH landscape.
3. Build Connection and Inclusion
Every employee contributes to company culture. The way a company operates, while guided by overarching values, is ultimately determined by each employee, from upper management to entry-level. That’s because, as mentioned above, culture consists of both implicit and explicit beliefs and behaviors.
This means that an excellent way to improve company culture is to improve employee connection. When employees feel isolated and disconnected, their overall experience with the company is likely to be negative.
Ensuring that your team feels connected and can freely share thoughts and opinions with one another will improve their sense of belonging, heightening their satisfaction. This connection will positively impact your organization’s culture.
Our NASCAR experience can help your team build connection and improve their collaboration skills. Led by NASCAR’s first pit crew coach, your team will learn how NASCAR teams work together to secure team victories—as well as valuable insights you can apply to your team—all while using a provided NASCAR toy car to perform two timed pit crew trials.
4. Build Psychological Safety
Psychological safety—the ability to communicate and share ideas without fear of humiliation or punishment—is important for organizational success.
Ingraining psychological safety into your corporate culture can result in:
- Better decision-making
- Healthier group dynamics
- Increased innovation
- Improved organizational performance
Despite these benefits, however, research from McKinsey shows that only 26% of leaders create psychological safety for their teams.
Creating psychological safety in your organization involves cultivating the following in your team:
- Willingness to help
- Inclusion and diversity
- Positive attitude towards risk-taking and failure
- Open communication
Our Psychological Safety Journey, created in partnership with Harvard Business School’s Amy Edmondson, can improve psychological safety in your organization through four curated Teamraderie experiences.
5. Routinely Recognize and Appreciate Employees
Research from Gallup highlights the fact that recognizing employees needs to be embedded in your corporate culture for maximum effectiveness.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), celebrating employees through simple actions like birthday recognition, happy hours, or team building activities, can go a long way in fostering a positive corporate culture.
This research emphasizes the importance of strategically recognizing and acknowledging your team.
Our recognition and appreciation experience is an excellent way to show your team your appreciation, while also encouraging them to show appreciation for one another. In this Teamraderie experience, your team will participate in an interactive digital card game in which they assign positive traits and strengths to one another. This is followed by a guided discussion about the best qualities of each individual team member.
6. Provide Easy Channels for Feedback
Since your employees are instrumental in the implementation of your organizational culture, it’s important to provide easy ways for them to offer feedback. Listening to your team’s concerns is instrumental to retaining your corporate culture, particularly in times of organizational change.
While there are several ways to give and receive feedback, one method that’s excellent for a two-way conversation is the Situational-Behavior-Impact (SBI) model. This framework consists of three components:
- Situation: The context of the issue. What were the circumstances that led to the behavior being addressed?
- Behavior: The specific behavior that you’d like to discuss. What action was taken that resulted in the need for feedback?
- Impact: How this behavior impacted you. How did it make you feel?
In our team feedback experience, researcher and Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino leads your team in guided discussions on how to master this framework in your organization.
You’ll gain confidence in effectively managing difficult conversations by understanding the significance of providing direct and constructive feedback, while also demonstrating empathy and clarity.
7. Share Culture-Changing Stories
As was previously mentioned, HR policies can help in shaping an organizational culture, but they’re only one part of the process. Policies are important, but research from HBR shows that lasting improvements to organizational culture begin with storytelling.
According to HBR, leaders who positively influenced organizational culture change create stories that highlight problems within the established culture, while also emphasizing an alternative approach.
These stories should be authentic, future-oriented, and should inspire others to create their own stories.
Our team storytelling experience is an excellent way to help your team learn the art of storytelling, and how it can be leveraged to improve your organizational culture.
8. Reach Out to Employees
Research from HBR shows that, especially for remote companies, it’s important for leaders to establish multiple regular touch points with their team, and be clear about the purpose of those interactions.
For example, according to HBR, activities that prompt creative engagement, such as improv activities or brainstorming, can foster an innovative culture.
Our team creativity experience is a great option for connecting with your team, while also fostering team collaboration and cohesion.
Led by an improv expert, your team will participate in three evidence-based improv games designed to strengthen your team’s connection and idea-generating skills.
9. Communicate Your Team’s Values
According to Gallup, only 21% of employees strongly agree that their leadership effectively communicates how their work is influenced by the company’s cultural values.
It’s important for your team to stay aligned with your values and shared purpose. Many employees are attracted to various organizations largely because of the values they champion, so neglecting them can be detrimental to your corporate culture.
Our values-based leadership experience can help your company’s leaders learn how to leverage your team’s shared values to improve overall performance. Led by Olympian and sports commentator Summer Sanders, this interactive workshop will help improve your leadership skills and better understand and communicate your team’s values.
How Teamraderie Can Help Improve Your Corporate Culture
A great way to build a better organizational culture is to strategically leverage team building to improve your team’s connection and sense of belonging.
Teamraderie offers over 60 evidence-based experiences designed to improve various outcomes. If you’re interested in learning more, consider taking our quiz to find out which experience is best for your team, or chatting with TeamraderieGPT to find the best experience based on your specific needs.