November 7, 2023
Title image with "Positive Change at Work: 9 Steps to Improve Corporate Culture" over photo of office workers collaborating in a conference room

Have you noticed a spike in tension, disengagement, productivity issues, or even conflicts in the workplace? These could be signs of a deeper cultural problem—but how do you improve corporate culture? It sounds like a MASSIVE undertaking!

True, when you begin to consider the effort and resources involved in strengthening your team, it can be intimidating. But building a positive culture is not just worth it; it’s vital to your organization’s success! In fact, statistics show that:

  • 46% of job seekers prioritize company culture
  • Millennials—that’s 35% of the workforce!—value a people and culture fit over everything else
  • Having highly engaged employees can lead to a 202% increase in performance

You might have already guessed this, but it truly starts at the top. No, there is no blanket solution; yes, it calls for more than the occasional pizza party (although team get-togethers are important!). Follow these steps to strengthen your team and company culture. 

1. Assess Your Corporate Culture Today

Where does your team’s culture and morale stand at this moment? Pay attention to your employees and reflect on their attitudes, productivity, and engagement recently. Are they upbeat and excited to get to work? Do they understand the company’s goals and how they contribute to them? Or do they appear frustrated, confused, or apathetic? 

Consider using brief surveys or meeting one-on-one with some of your tenured employees to get their perspectives on the company culture. 

Once you’ve gathered these insights, look at the bigger picture to determine if the current state of your organization will help achieve its big goals. If not, identify specific areas to focus on improving company culture.

2. Revisit Your Mission, Vision & Values

As you evaluate the big picture of your company culture, contemplate your mission, vision, and value statements. Are they still aligned and guiding your team and company? How are you using them, communicating them, and showing them to your team? 

Every team member, from executives to staff level, should feel aligned with these statements and understand how their role ties into them. Do your company’s policies, actions, and decisions reflect the mission and values daily? Do your leaders embrace these statements?

Next, assess the statements themselves. They should be:

  • Clear, concise, and actionable
  • Free of vague language that could be misinterpreted
  • Meaningful and specific

Avoid long-winded statements or having too many values, which could be forgotten and water down your overall message.

Now that you’ve revisited your company’s mission and value statements, consider where your business puts these into action and where there are gaps. Then, adjust accordingly. There is nothing worse than empty brand statements!

For example, if you say you value teamwork and transparency, how are you LIVING and showing that? Does leadership communicate news early? Ask for employees’ input? Encourage collaboration through projects? Or is there an air of competition and siloed work? 

Remember, your mission and values should drive the rest of your team’s behavior and all business decisions.

3. Get Leadership On Board

Again, improving corporate culture MUST start at the top! Are your executives and managers on the same page? Do they feel connected to and embrace the mission and values every day? How do they set the example for their teams? 

If the answer is no or uncertain on any of the above, your leaders may need clarification on the specific actions and steps they can take to demonstrate the company values and desired culture. It might be time for workshops and training to remind management of their impact and what they can do to help improve company culture.

4. Foster Connection & Teambuilding

Whether your team is remote, in-person, or hybrid, all employees need to connect on some personal level. Leaders can do this by:

  • Hosting team meals, coffee chats, or happy hours
  • Planning fun activities like games and escape rooms during work hours (these can be in person or virtual!)
  • Making a Slack or Teams channel just for connection and fun
  • Creating shared spaces where team members can have chance encounters (e.g., a welcoming breakroom)

Building these relationships helps gain mutual respect and understanding. Your team members may even find they have more in common than they think! Ultimately, their communication will improve, and they’ll work better together. 

5. Prioritize Transparency

One report found that highly engaged employees are more than twice as likely to report working for a transparent organization than actively disengaged employees. 

Your people want to know that you TRUST them! Make transparency easy by investing in technology and communication tools like an internal chat (e.g., Slack or Teams) and a project management platform (e.g., Asana or Monday). These allow employees to connect and check in on assignments easily. 

Of course, transparency also applies to when and how you share information—both the good and the bad. Share the wins of individuals, teams, and the entire company regularly. These help boost morale and motivation! 

When you have difficult news to deliver, show your employees respect by being as open as possible as early as possible. Let them know you plan to work through it as a team and ask for their ideas and input when appropriate. While you don’t need to share every detail with every employee, taking an open, collaborative approach can yield powerful results from the brains and backgrounds of your talented team.

6. Give Employees Autonomy & Flexibility

Another way to show employees you trust them as you work to improve corporate culture is by giving them the freedom to manage their duties and projects, which you can do by:

  • Allowing flexible work schedules
  • Offering an unlimited PTO policy
  • Letting them work remotely
  • Empowering them to make their own decisions
  • Fielding overbearing managers and colleagues

Avoiding micromanagement, encouraging work-life balance, and empowering employees to make decisions will build their confidence and help them grow. In turn, they’ll be more productive and engaged. 

7. Show Employee Recognition

Did you know 69% of employees say they would work harder if they got more recognition? Yet only a third of them receive it weekly. And companies are hurting themselves, as workers who don’t feel appreciated are twice as likely to quit in the next year. 

That’s a lot of missed opportunities and wasted money and effort—over something so simple!

Often, employees simply want to know their hard work is appreciated. Remember to tell them when they’ve done an excellent job and give them public shoutouts to encourage others to do the same. 

Create an employee recognition program that spotlights performers who epitomize the company values and culture you’re aiming for. You could do this through an anonymous nomination system, company communication platforms like Slack, or a specific employee recognition platform. 

Recognition plays a prominent role in employee productivity and retention, saving your business significantly.

8. Revamp Your Review Process

Speaking of recognition, it’s time to shake things up if you’re still conducting old-school yearly performance reviews! Today’s talent wants frequent constructive feedback, with 92% wanting it more than once a year. 

While formal reviews are still important, ensure managers hold them more often. Also, incorporate regular feedback throughout the year, such as brief weekly or biweekly meetings. Find everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide to employee performance appraisals.

Don’t forget to ask employees for THEIR feedback, too! This includes reviews of their managers (we all have room to learn and grow!) and input on new initiatives, processes, or tools. Showing employees you value their opinions is crucial to improving corporate culture. 

9. Focus on Workplace Mental Health

An alarming 19% of American workers rate their mental health as fair or poor, reporting about four times more unplanned absences due to poor mental health. Not to mention, mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with substance misuse.

Worse yet, 43% of workers worry about negative consequences if they were to report a mental health condition to their employer. And only 35% report a company culture where breaks are encouraged.

Basically, there is a LOT of room for improvement!

Prioritizing employee mental health and overall wellness is critical. Leaders must create a supportive work culture by:

  • Setting reasonable goals and expectations
  • Providing flexibility when employees are struggling
  • Asking team members how they’re doing regularly—without focusing strictly on work!
  • Encouraging healthy practices and self-care
  • Offering mental health care coverage

Emphasis on mental health is central to improving corporate culture for many organizations today. Managers should set an example by demonstrating their own boundaries and work-life balance while respecting those of their employees. Consider training leaders to recognize the signs of mental distress and substance misuse. 

Turning Company Culture Around One Step at a Time

While most of these steps are simple, they require effort and thoughtfulness. So, take your time to determine your current corporate culture and where you should focus first. Don’t rush it! Refine one area’s process and system, then move on to the next. 

Most importantly, get buy-in from your HR and leadership teams from the start! This will go a long way in:

  • Ensuring the efficiency and impact of all cultural efforts
  • Boosting employee retention
  • Increasing employee engagement and productivity 

So involve them in evaluating your mission and values, ask for their feedback and ideas on developing new policies and programs, and invest in leadership training.

Do you need an outside perspective to guide you as you strengthen your organization’s culture? As a team built on connection and authenticity, BlueLion would be happy to help! Contact our HR professionals at 603-818-4131 or today.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.