I have seen first-hand the difference a positive company culture can make in an organization. Companies with a positive culture are able to attract and retain top talent, increase employee morale, and ultimately drive revenue growth. But creating a positive company culture is not always easy, and it comes with its own set of challenges. In this article, we will explore the importance of creating a positive company culture, the challenges companies face when doing so, and ways to measure the success of a company culture.
The Impact of Culture on Organizational Success
I believe having an inclusive workplace culture provides the foundation of a company's success, as it can attract and retain top talent, increase employee morale, and ultimately drive revenue growth. Leaders play a crucial role in shaping a positive company culture, and it starts by treating culture as a verb rather than a noun. Culture comes to life through actions, and leaders must continuously invest in and manage the culture of their organization.
Creating a positive company culture also requires everyone to play a role. Leaders must encourage employees to carve out time, space, and resources to think creatively and come up with new solutions. Salesforce is a great example of this, where giving back is integrated into their actual processes and systems, and they even provide volunteering time off (VTO) to their employees.
Leaders must also embody the change they wish to see in their organization. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made significant strides in changing the culture of Microsoft by embracing the core value of having a growth mindset. He listened and learned from his employees and committed to taking action when he made a mistake.
Bringing culture into workflows is also essential in changing the way people work with each other. One organization leader saw an opportunity to really shift the culture to be rooted in data-driven decision making. They encouraged meetings to be focused on employee projects aligned with strategic objectives rather than strictly being report-outs. Employees were also more effective in using data to communicate the impact of their work during performance evaluations, which made them feel more valued.
Finally, celebrating employees who embody the culture is essential. When employees see the behaviors being modeled and rewarded, they feel more comfortable trying new things and are not afraid of failure. Leaders must encourage employees to conduct experiments and share lessons learned, regardless of whether they succeeded or failed.
In conclusion, evolving company culture requires time, work, and consistency, and leaders play a key role in this. Each action taken is a vote for the type of organization you wish to become, and culture change happens when people take small actions that over time, move the organization toward the type of organization they wish to become. As an HR and leadership consultant, I urge leaders to commit to embodying the culture over time, but also ensure that employees are along for the journey. When you find ways to make culture a team sport, everyone can play a role in ensuring the culture evolves.
How to Celebrate Employees Who Embody the Your Organization's Culture
Celebrating employees who embody the culture is crucial in creating a positive company culture. Here are several examples of how to do so:
Recognition programs: Create an employee recognition program that rewards employees who embody the company culture. This could be a formal program with nominations and awards, or it could be as simple as a shoutout in a company-wide email.
Share success stories: Share success stories of employees who embody the culture through internal communications like newsletters, company-wide meetings, and social media.
Personalized gifts: Give personalized gifts to employees who embody the culture. For example, if your company values innovation, you could give an employee who came up with a new idea a gift related to creativity or innovation.
Team outings: Celebrate employees who embody the culture by taking them out for team outings. This could be a lunch or dinner, a team-building activity, or even a day off.
Employee of the month: Highlight an employee who embodies the culture each month by naming them employee of the month.
By celebrating employees who embody the culture, you show that their actions are valued and appreciated, which in turn fosters a positive company culture.
Challenges Companies Face When Trying to Create a Positive Company Culture
I have seen that creating a positive company culture is not always easy and comes with its own set of challenges. Some challenges companies face when trying to create a positive company culture are:
Resistance to change: Employees may be resistant to change, especially if the new culture goes against the status quo. It's important to communicate the benefits of the new culture and involve employees in the process of creating it.
Lack of leadership buy-in: Creating a positive company culture requires leadership buy-in and commitment. If leaders don't prioritize culture, it's unlikely to succeed.
Lack of resources: Creating a positive company culture takes time, effort, and resources. Some companies may not have the resources to invest in creating a strong culture.
Misaligned values: If company values are not aligned with the desired culture, it can be difficult to create a positive company culture.
Inconsistent messaging: It's important to communicate the desired culture consistently and frequently. Inconsistent messaging can lead to confusion and a lack of buy-in from employees.
Limited employee input: Employees play a crucial role in creating a positive company culture. If their input is not taken into account, it's unlikely to succeed.
Addressing these challenges requires a commitment from leadership, a willingness to listen to employees, and an investment in the resources needed to create a strong and positive company culture.
Measuring the Success of Your Company Culture
Measuring the success of a company culture is important in ensuring that it is aligned with the company's goals and values. Here are some ways companies can measure the success of their company culture:
Employee engagement surveys: Employee engagement surveys can help measure how engaged employees are in the company culture. Questions can be asked about the company's values, leadership, and work environment to help gauge how employees feel about the culture.
Turnover rates: High turnover rates can be a sign that the company culture is not aligned with employee values. Low turnover rates can indicate that the company culture is successful in retaining employees.
Employee feedback: Regular employee feedback can help gauge how employees feel about the company culture. This can be done through one-on-one meetings, focus groups, or suggestion boxes.
Company performance: A positive company culture can lead to better performance in areas like productivity, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction. Measuring company performance can help determine the impact of the company culture.
Leadership behavior: The behavior of leaders can indicate the success of the company culture. If leaders are modeling the values and behaviors of the culture, it is more likely to be successful.
By measuring the success of the company culture, companies can ensure that it is aligned with their goals and values, and make any necessary adjustments to improve it.
Examples of Companies that Have Created a Positive Company Culture
There are many companies that have created a positive company culture. Some examples include:
Zappos: Zappos is known for its positive company culture and focus on employee happiness. They offer unique perks like free lunches, nap rooms, and even a life coach. They also have a strong emphasis on company values and culture fit in their hiring process.
Patagonia: Patagonia is a company that values environmentalism and sustainability. They offer employees paid time off to volunteer for environmental causes, and they also have an on-site child care center to support working parents.
Salesforce: Salesforce is known for its focus on giving back to the community. They offer employees volunteering time off (VTO) and encourage employees to take time off to volunteer in their local communities. They also have a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices.
Google: Google is known for its innovative and fun company culture. They offer unique perks like free meals, on-site massages, and even on-site haircuts. They also have a strong emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance.
Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is known for its positive company culture and focus on employee empowerment. They have a strong emphasis on teamwork and collaboration, and they encourage employees to have fun and be themselves while at work.
HubSpot: HubSpot is known for its strong company culture, which focuses on transparency, flexibility, and employee empowerment. They have a company culture code that outlines their values, and they offer unique perks like unlimited vacation time and a sabbatical program.
Netflix: Netflix has a strong company culture that emphasizes freedom and responsibility. They have a unique approach to performance management and encourage employees to take ownership of their work. They also offer unlimited vacation time and a parental leave policy that allows new parents to take up to a year off.
Airbnb: Airbnb's company culture is focused on community, creativity, and inclusivity. They have a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices and offer unique perks like a $2,000 travel credit for employees to use on Airbnb.
Warby Parker: Warby Parker has a strong company culture that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, and giving back. They have a program called "Do Good" that allows employees to take paid time off to volunteer for causes they're passionate about.
These companies have all created a positive company culture by prioritizing employee happiness, values, and well-being. They recognize that a positive company culture is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent and driving business success.
Creating a positive company culture is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent, increasing employee morale, and driving revenue growth. But it's not always easy, and it comes with its own set of challenges. Companies must prioritize culture, involve employees in the process, and invest in the resources needed to create a strong and positive company culture. Measuring the success of the company culture is also important in ensuring that it is aligned with the company's goals and values. By doing so, companies can ensure that they are creating a positive work environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.
Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.