In Part 1 of this series, we tried to define workplace culture and understand its impact on the workplace, employees, and business outcomes. In short, good culture produces good outcomes. But how do you know if your culture is good or bad? In Part 2, we examined the red flags that could indicate cultural problems. Here, in Part 3, we will talk about what steps organizations can take to improve their culture.
Fortunately, research provides a good answer to this question. According to a meta-analysis of Gallup polls and research, organizations need to meet four essential requirements.
1: Meet employees’ basic needs.
Make sure employees have everything they need to be successful in their role. That can include access to adequate training and skills development, work resources, managerial support, and colleagues for collaboration. Break down unnecessary silos that can restrict access to colleagues and work resources and can potentially create a culture of haves and have-nots. That may require organizations to review internal policies, procedures, and practices (both formal and informal); ensure that front-line managers are providing helpful directions and setting clear expectations; and provide additional skills development as needed.
2: Help the employee feel they are making a valuable contribution to the organization and to a larger purpose.
Employees want to feel that their work is both valued and valuable. Entrepreneur cites Southwest Airlines as an example of a company with a great workplace culture that specifically fosters a larger mission of exceptional customer service by communicating “its goals and vision to employees in a way that makes [its workers] a part of a unified team” in pursuit of a large common goal.
3: Foster a sense of belonging among workers.
Healthy social structures in the workplace are crucial for a positive culture. They make employees feel both like they’re part of something larger than themselves and well-supported and cared for. This social support can help employees navigate difficulties. As Gallup writes, “When negative situations occur at work, strong friendships help to build social resources that can be relied on to perhaps undo the effects of negative emotions.” In fact, a sense of belonging is the most commonly cited factor that would retain an employee at their company for the next five years, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Cultural Trends report.
4: Allow and enable employees to discuss their progress and pursue future growth.
A negative culture can leave employees stagnating or, worse, being held back by unfair workplace practices (e.g., favoritism and political maneuvering in promotions). By contrast, in a healthy culture, employees will have opportunities to grow in their role and in their career. Their bosses will nurture and coach them, while their employer will make both new opportunities, challenges, and recognition available in a fair and equitable manner that focuses on the hard work, growth, and accomplishments of every worker.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.