10 Ways to Build Strong Company Culture

Are you actively working to enhance your company's culture? With so many recent changes to where and how people work over the past year, there is no better time to prioritize organizational culture.

Culture is more than just a business buzzword—it can make or break an organization. A strong culture is directly related to employee engagement, which is critical to recruiting and retaining great people.

Not only does culture help organizations retain top talent, but it also makes them more productive, collaborative, and effective.  Research from Gallup and the Queen's School of Business shows that organizations with disengaged employees have 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, and a 65% lower share price over time. 

In other words, it pays to pay attention to culture.

And it's never been more critical than it is right now. The globalized labour market and the rise of remote work have created unprecedented competition for talent, meaning that organizations must offer new hires more than a robust benefits package. Today, especially Millennial and Gen-Z workers, employees expect purpose, connection, and meaning in their roles. Culture plays a vital role in that experience.

What does excellent culture look like? At organizations with strong cultures, employees are more engaged in their work, connected to their colleagues, and in sync with their company's mission and values. You can recognize these culture success stories by their low turnover rates and high levels of employee satisfaction. When leaders pay attention to culture, workers collaborate better and work more productively, resulting in happier employees and higher profits.

Still, culture can feel elusive and intangible. What can you do to make a difference at your company? To help you get started, we have ten concrete ideas to launch a positive culture shift at your organization.

  1. Lead by example. Good company culture starts at the top, meaning that leaders must model the behaviours and practices they desire to see in their organization. Suppose you are a leader who strives to create a culture rooted in respect and empathy. In that case, you must demonstrate those values by showing consideration for others, listening actively, and putting the needs of your colleagues before your own. You may be surprised by the ripple effect you can create in your company culture simply by modelling the values you preach.

  2. Establish an open-door policy. Your people know your company's work better than anyone, so why not ask for their feedback? Ensure that employees understand that they are always welcome to approach senior leaders with suggestions, ideas, and even criticism. Not only does feedback make an organization more robust, but it promotes a culture in which everyone's thoughts are valued.

  3. Implement employee wellness programs. An essential element of great company culture is attention to the health and well-being of your people. When your employees know that their organization cares about their mental well-being and long-term physical health, they're more likely to trust and believe in what they do. Wellness programs such as mental health services and gym or fitness programs are powerful ways to express your commitment to a healthy team.

  4. Hire the right people. Hiring managers should seek a good company culture fit rather than recruiting solely based on skillsets and experience. After all, it's much easier to learn skills than values. Hiring people who believe in a similar mission will make it easier to build and maintain the culture you want to create.

  5. Establish your values in writing. Work with stakeholders across your organization to establish a robust and descriptive set of mission, vision, and value statements. Workplace research shows that people are more engaged and productive when the purpose of their work is crystal clear.

  6. Make check-ins a company standard. Much like being open to feedback, establishing regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings with your team members to discuss job satisfaction can do a lot to promote a positive culture across the organization. When employees know that leaders are invested in their happiness and success, they become more invested in the organization's success. It's a win-win.

  7. Bring in the right tools. Your organization is only as good as its systems. To foster collaboration, invest in technology that streamlines workflows and encourages positive communication. Effective systems such as meeting software, messaging programs, and project management tools can connect people and unite them around their shared goals.

  8. Carve out time for fun. A strong culture balances work and play. Bring your teams together consistently for some non-work-related fun. Team building events are a way to thank your people for everything they do and help employees get to know each other personally. And don't forget—everyone should participate in team building. To demonstrate goodwill and buy-in, leaders should attend bonding events too.

  9. Promote diversity and inclusivity. Inclusivity is key to creating a culture of openness and respect. That's why it is vital to make room for various identities and perspectives at your organization. You can do this by seeking diverse pools of job candidates, prioritizing the recruitment of women, LGBTQ+ employees, people of colour, people with disabilities, and folks from various cultural backgrounds. Not only do diverse teams tend to have more inclusive cultures, but they have also been shown to be more effective and productive. Leadership can promote inclusivity by celebrating differences and encouraging the presence of a diverse array of perspectives on teams and committees.

  10. Connect people cross-functionally. A vital element of a strong culture is a well-connected organization. When employees in disparate areas of the company know each other and communicate regularly, they are more likely to work together to solve problems, improve processes, and achieve better outcomes. To build those relationships and increase rapport, ensure that your people are regularly meeting cross-functionally. 

Voila! Adopt a handful of the above ideas, and you'll be on your way to creating and maintaining a thriving corporate culture. Remember, building a solid culture is all about bringing a people-first attitude to everything, from hiring to leadership and even technology. When you see an organization as a living, evolving organism rather than a static structure, that is when your culture will truly flourish. 

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