According to SHRM, the key to a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are supported by strategy and structure. In other words, an organization’s culture defines the proper way to behave within it.
Have you ever walked into an organization’s workspace and instantly felt like you could work there? Maybe it’s the employees who take a moment to say hello to a stranger or the quiet laughter coming from a corner. Maybe it’s the free-flowing ideas coming from a meeting happening over a ping pong game, a cup of coffee, or a gratis staff lunch. There are so many ways in which a culture can be created and nurtured, and once set in motion, this inevitable microcosm profoundly influences a business’s overall success and employee satisfaction.
Importance of Company Culture
A strong workplace culture serves as the foundation for a cohesive and motivated team. It fosters a sense of belonging and purpose, making employees more engaged and invested in their work. It also promotes innovation and creativity, as individuals feel empowered to share ideas and take risks without fear of judgment. It even contributes to higher employee retention rates, reducing recruitment and training costs while enhancing an organization’s reputation to attract top talent and customers who align with its values. Ultimately, workplace culture is a driving force behind productivity, collaboration, and a thriving, sustainable business.
Insights from the Workplace Culture Hierarchy Framework
Modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and built upon Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory, the Workplace Culture Hierarchy framework addresses five factors within a workplace that need to be competitive, sufficient, and equitable in order to drive success. By progressing sequentially through each of the foundational levels of the framework, users are better able to tackle the more nuanced pieces within it.
The framework hinges on a hierarchy of needs, starting with complying with industry and employee expectations, including meaningful company values. Next, fostering psychological safety and creating a sense of inclusion allow employees to feel like they belong yet can be vulnerable. Towards the top of the framework lies engagement, like recognizing accomplishments, increasing employee autonomy, developing staff skills, and fostering a sense of purpose. The final level addresses striving for success and building that into organizational success.
1. Develop Meaningful Company Values
Developing meaningful company values is the first step in building a culture that counts. They define an organization’s identity, providing employees with a shared sense of purpose and direction. When these values are genuinely held and practiced, they build trust among team members and stakeholders, fostering stronger relationships and collaboration.
Moreover, meaningful company values can attract like-minded employees and customers who resonate with the organization’s mission, contributing to stronger employee engagement and customer loyalty. They even provide a framework for ethical behavior, helping organizations navigate complex dilemmas and maintain their integrity even in challenging situations.
2. Hire for Cultural Fit
It comes as no surprise that employees who align with a company’s culture are more likely to share its values, work cohesively with their colleagues, and readily adapt to the organization’s norms and expectations. This not only enhances team dynamics but also reduces the risk of conflicts and turnover.
Moreover, individuals who resonate with the company’s culture tend to be more engaged and committed, contributing positively to the organization’s success. They bring their authentic selves to work. Overall, hiring for cultural fit helps ensure that an organization maintains its core values and continues to thrive, all while promoting a shared sense of belonging and purpose among its employees.
3. Foster Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is defined as the idea that people are allowed to be vulnerable at work. Ultimately, this means creating an environment where people feel comfortable enough to own up to mistakes or ask for the things they actually need, and direct supervisors play a huge role in fostering this reality.
Creating this culture of open, honest communication lets people feel like they have the freedom to fail and to speak up when they are having a problem. It also means they will feel comfortable providing feedback to higher-ups in the spirit of continuous improvement.
4. Create a Sense of Purpose
An employee’s sense of purpose impacts their motivation, engagement, and overall well-being. When employees feel that their work contributes to a greater mission, it gives their tasks deeper significance. This sense of purpose fuels intrinsic motivation, including willingness to go the extra mile, take initiative, and innovate, leading to increased productivity and creativity. It also contributes to building a culture of shared ideas!
Moreover, when individuals feel connected to their work and believe in the company’s mission, they are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, reducing turnover and the costs associated with recruiting and training. Overall, creating purpose for employees not only benefits their individual well-being but also contributes to a positive work culture and long-term organizational success.
5. Ask for Employee Feedback
Perhaps you are doing some or all of the above steps in one regard or another, and that’s great! Now, go out on a limb and determine where you might upgrade. Asking for employee feedback serves as a valuable tool for both continuous improvement and staff engagement.
These individuals are on the front lines of daily operations, and their insights can provide unique perspectives on various aspects of the workplace, including processes, policies, and yes, company culture. By asking for feedback, organizations demonstrate that they value employees’ opinions and are committed to creating a more positive, collaborative and inclusive environment.
Ask what makes them Stay
People Element offers a stay interview solution that can uncover hidden issues and better inform decision-making. Focused on what motivates employees to stay at their job, these employee surveys can be customized to empower employees, making them feel heard and invested in the organization’s success, which in turn boosts morale and job satisfaction. Ultimately, when used at a regular cadence, this feedback loop fosters a culture of transparency and adaptability, enabling companies to evolve, remain competitive, and better meet the needs of both employees and customers.