You’ve been working at your company for a few years now and things have been going great. But recently, something has changed. The culture that you once enjoyed and felt a part of seems to be deteriorating. Morale is low, people are tense, and it doesn’t feel like the fun place it used to be. What happened?
There could be any number of reasons why your company culture has taken a downturn, but the most common ones are changes in management, a shift in business strategy, or simply a lack of communication and understanding among employees.
No matter what the cause, it’s important to address the issue head-on and take steps to improve the company culture before it gets any worse.
You may be daunted by the task, but improving company culture is actually a lot simpler than you might think. With the right tools and approach, you can get your team back on track and create a work environment that’s positive, productive, and enjoyable for everyone.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What is company culture?
- Why is your company culture suffering?
- Consequences of poor company culture
- How to improve your company culture
- Benefits of a positive company culture
By the end, you’ll have a good understanding of why company culture is so important and what you can do to get your business back on track.
Let’s get started.
What is company culture?
When we think of culture, it’s often in the context of countries or religions. But culture can also refer to the beliefs, values, and behaviors that are shared by a group of people — in this case, employees within a company.
Company culture, in a nutshell, is ‘the way things are done’ within your business. It’s the collective attitude of employees and how they interact with one another, their customers, and their suppliers. Company culture can be a powerful tool for unifying a team and driving success, but it’s also fragile and can easily deteriorate if not nurtured.
There are a number of factors that influence company culture, including the company’s values and mission, its management style, and the work environment itself. But one of the most important factors is communication.
If employees don’t feel like they’re able to openly communicate with one another, share ideas, and collaborate effectively, the company culture will suffer.
Why is your company culture suffering?
If you’ve noticed that your regular workplace has lost its sparkle, you’ll likely see some of the following telltale symptoms: disengagement, cynicism, decreased productivity and creativity, and higher rates of absenteeism and turnover.
While there can be many reasons behind a lackluster company culture (e.g., lack of leadership support, poor communication, low morale), the following are five of the most common culprits:
1. Lack of trust
Trust is arguably one of the most fundamentally important elements of any relationship, personal or professional. Without it, your team is likely to feel resentful and disengaged.
If team members don’t trust their leaders, they’re less likely to take risks, be innovative or productive, or feel comfortable voicing concerns or suggestions. This can lead to a domino effect in which a negative company culture breeds more mistrust, and the cycle continues.
2. Poor communication
Businesses are built on communication. It’s not enough to have communicative leaders — you need everyone on the team to be on board, too.
Poor communication isn’t something to underestimate. It can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, and even conflict. When team members don’t feel like they’re in the loop or that their voices aren’t being heard, it’s bound to have a negative impact on company culture.
3. Lack of employee engagement
Employees are the lifeblood of any company. When they’re not engaged, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
There are many reasons why employees might not be engaged, but the most common are lack of job satisfaction, feeling undervalued or unsupported, and a negative work-life balance.
If you’re struggling with a lack of employee engagement, it’s important to take a step back and figure out what’s causing it. Once you know the root of the problem, you can start to put together a plan to address it.
Conflict is a natural part of any workplace. However, when it’s not managed well, it can quickly spiral out of control and have a negative impact on company culture.
Negative conflict can manifest in many ways, such as bullying, gossiping, and backstabbing. When these behaviors become the norm, it can be tough for employees to feel happy or productive at work.
5. Poor leadership
When it comes to company culture, good leadership is essential. Leaders set the tone for the organization and play a big role in shaping the team’s values and behaviors.
Indecisive, unsupportive, or unresponsive leaders have an immense impact on the bottom line. Employees won’t give it their all if they don’t feel like their leaders are invested in them and their success.
These are some of the most common reasons why company culture suffers. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms in your workplace, it’s time to take a step back and assess what’s going on. If left untreated, a poor company culture can do serious damage to your business.
Consequences of poor company culture
Poor company culture, when left to its own devices, will fester like an untreated wound. The negative consequences can be drastic and far-reaching, impacting not only employees but also customers and the bottom line.
Here are some of the consequences of a poor company culture:
- Low employee morale and turnover. A toxic work environment can be extremely demoralizing, leading to high staff turnover and poor morale. No employee wants to spend their days in an unpleasant atmosphere, surrounded by negative people.
- Poor customer service. When employees are unhappy, it often shows in the way they interact with customers. Unhappy employees are less likely to be polite and helpful, and more likely to be rude and unprofessional. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction and lost business.
- Lower productivity. Motivation is scarce in a negative work environment, leading to lower productivity levels. Employees who are constantly stressed out, or those who feel uninspired by their leaders or their work, are less likely to be productive.
- Negative publicity. Bad company culture can often lead to negative publicity, as unhappy employees take to social media to air their grievances. This can tarnish the company’s reputation and cost it customers.
- Poor financial performance. A toxic work environment is not good for business. In fact, research has shown that poor company culture costs £20.2 billion each year.
Clearly, company culture is vitally important and should be a top priority for business owners. But how can you improve your company culture if it’s not currently good? Read on to find out.
How to improve your company culture
If you’ve identified an atmosphere of unhappiness or stagnation in your office, it may be indicative of your company culture. It’s time to do some serious repairs on your company culture if you want to keep your employees happy and productive.
So, how do you go about fixing your company culture?
1. Define your company culture
The first step is to define what your company culture actually is. What are the values that are important to you and your employees? What kind of environment do you want to create for them? Once you have a clear idea of what you’re working with, it will be easier to make changes.
For instance, your company culture may be based on values such as teamwork, innovation, or customer service. If so, you’ll want to make sure that your employees are aware of these values and that they feel like they’re being reinforced.
2. Communicate effectively
One of the key aspects of fixing your company culture is communication. You need to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that they understand the goals you’re trying to achieve.
This means communicating not only with your employees, but also with other departments within your company. It’s important for everyone to be on the same wavelength in order to create a cohesive company culture.
To instigate better communication, you may want to consider holding weekly or monthly meetings to update your employees on the latest developments. You can also use tools such as Slack or Asana to keep everyone in the loop.
3. Encourage collaboration
If your company has been lackluster in the collaboration department, it’s time to start encouraging employees to work together. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by arranging team-building exercises or setting up cross-departmental projects.
Collaboration is key to creativity and productivity, so make sure that you’re giving your employees the opportunity to work together.
4. Celebrate successes
A sure-fire way to improve your company culture is to celebrate successes. When employees feel appreciated, they’re more likely to be happy and productive. Make sure to publicly recognize your employees’ accomplishments and give them the recognition they deserve.
You can also hold team-building events and social gatherings to show your employees that you value them as individuals. This will help to create a more positive work environment.
5. Be transparent
If there’s one thing that employees hate, it’s feeling like they’re being kept in the dark. Transparency is key to building trust within a company. If employees feel like they can trust their managers and superiors, they’re more likely to be productive and cooperative.
Make sure to be open with your employees about the company’s goals and strategies. This will help them to feel like they’re a part of something bigger and that their contributions are valued.
6. Be consistent
You know how frustrating it can be when work keeps chopping and changing, and no doubt your employees feel the same way. In order to create a strong company culture, you need to be consistent with your policies and procedures.
This means being clear about what’s expected of employees and enforcing rules evenly across the board. It can be difficult to maintain consistency, but it’s important for establishing trust within a company.
7. Be flexible
At the same time, you also need to be flexible in order to accommodate your employees’ needs. If they feel like they can’t come to you with their problems or that their voice isn’t heard, they’re going to be unhappy and unproductive.
Make sure that you’re open to feedback and that you’re willing to change things up when necessary. Employees will appreciate the fact that you’re trying to meet their needs and that you’re willing to work with them.
8. Create a positive work environment
Last but not least, one of the best ways to improve your company culture is to create a positive work environment. This means fostering a sense of trust, respect, and cooperation among your employees.
Make sure that everyone is treated equally and that there’s no bullying or discrimination in the office. You may also want to consider introducing perks such as flexible working hours or free food.
Creating a positive work environment is key to having a happy and productive team.
By following these steps, you can improve your company culture and create a more positive work environment for your employees.
Benefits of a positive company culture
Once you’ve taken the steps outlined in this article to improve your company culture, you’ll likely start to see some benefits pretty quickly. Some of the benefits that are commonly seen include:
- Higher productivity across all teams
- Less employee turnover due to a more satisfying work environment
- More innovation as employees feel more comfortable taking risks
- Increased customer satisfaction as employees are better able to meet the needs of customers
- Stronger brand identity as a result of all of the above
If you’re tired of your company culture dragging you down, take the time to improve it. It won’t be a walk in the park, but it will be worth it.
Hopefully, this article has shown you just how crucial company culture is and how it can be improved. While it won’t be easy, the benefits are well worth the effort. So, take some time to assess your company culture and start making changes today!