Great company culture is something that is difficult to articulate but abundantly obvious when it works. A great company culture is not surface level, and when handled correctly, it becomes ingrained into the day-to-day activities of employees.

Improving company culture isn't as simple as pizza Thursdays, free coffee in the breakroom or allowing employees to leave a few hours early on a Friday. Too often, managers look for a quick fix to improving employee satisfaction. Investing in long-term solutions helps not just the individual, but also the company as a whole, since it can result in lower turnover and more creativity, among other benefits.

What is company culture?

Company culture is the shared behaviors and values that make up a workplace. It is not only the written rules of a work environment, but the unwritten norms that guide the day-to-day of employees as well. A company's culture extends all the way from a new hire to the CEO.

A company's culture is not only perceived internally, but it may also be seen by the outside world through the company's brand and how it matches with employees' workplace experiences.

Why is company culture important ?

When a company's culture is great, the overall company benefits. Research from Great Place To Work found that Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® "outperformed the broader market by 16.5% in 2020, returning 37.4% compared to a 20.9% return for the Russell 3000® Index – the broadest benchmark index for U.S. stocks." This research proves that treating employees well and having a great company culture leads to an increase in the bottom line.

It is critical that a company's culture be viewed positively by both employees and outsiders. Managers should avoid toxic leadership since it can permeate a company's culture and be easily detected by individuals outside the organization. A great company culture will entice future hires to join the team and make others interested in the business.

Ways to improve company culture

Revisit your company's mission

A company's mission can provide employees with a shared sense of purpose. Deloitte research found that companies with a mission outperform companies without a mission. Reexamine your company's mission from when it was first formed. Determine whether these basic principles are still relevant, and if not, brainstorm methods to update them. Getting employee feedback on the mission statement might help them feel more connected to the company's values.

Support employees

A successful corporate culture is one that is supportive of its employees. Support for employees can stem from a variety of places. Developing a mentorship program can fuel an employee's growth and development, increasing job satisfaction and giving them a positive view as a member of the company's team. Providing mental health services gives employees opportunities to talk through problems, which can prevent burnout and allow them to feel supported. A supportive company culture is an important component of having a great company culture.

Promote open communication

Opening up communication between employees and managers fosters a positive work culture. Listening to feedback, encouraging cross-departmental communication and checking in with individuals creates opportunities to discover new strategies and perspectives that will benefit the overall company. Communication can prevent toxic leadership, quiet quitting and employee dissatisfaction. An employee who feels comfortable communicating will be more open to sharing positive and negative feedback, which can help them feel more ingrained in the company's culture.

Be honest

Being transparent with employees creates a sense of trust. Honesty allows employees to not feel left out when it comes to decision-making, which will allow them to make informed decisions about their day-to-day work. A company can build trust by being honest about expectations, rewards, policies and short- and long-term company growth. Honesty contributes positively to company culture as employees feel capable and trusted.

How to implement culture

A company's culture can be implemented in a variety of ways. Anonymous surveys are a good place to start to find out how employees feel about the current company culture and how they think it can be improved.

It all comes back to the mission statement: A good company culture is dependent on its core values. Employees must not only understand but also believe in these ideals for them to be effective.

Once a culture is established, setting clear expectations is one of the best ways to ensure company culture is maintained. Expectations should be set about how and why work gets accomplished, how employees engage with one another and how company values are implemented in the workplace.

Don't underestimate the power of company culture

At the end of the day, an employee will remember a company's culture more than anything else. It is important to invest in culture as it can facilitate communication and contribute to a higher bottom line. Creating an environment in which employees reflect the values of their organization is an excellent method to develop a strong work culture. Cultures will continue to evolve and shift over time, so it is important to remember that being flexible can set employees and their company up for success.