Company culture is an inherent part of any organization; regardless of whether it’s on your radar or not, there’s a culture that’s formed as a result of your team and the way you do business. However, you can exert influence over your organizational culture in order to shape it into a more accurate and attractive representation of your company.
When Does Your Organization Need a Culture Change?
A company’s culture can determine the outcomes of employees, customer relationships and revenue — for better or worse. At its best, company culture can increase employee retention, engagement and performance, which all positively impact company goals and objectives. When employees are disengaged, customers shy away and business targets aren’t met, it may be time to reevaluate your company culture and make necessary changes.
Unlike a process improvement plan or top-down management approach, a company culture change focuses on holistic overhaul and how to apply a shift in mindset to various areas at a time. Changing a company’s culture is a long-term initiative, and it’s important for every employee to get involved.
If it’s time to change your workplace culture, here are five crucial steps to follow.
Strategies to decode, maintain and improve company culture.
5 Steps to Change Your Company Culture
Where do you start when changing company culture? Let these five steps guide you and help you carve out the plan you need.
How to Change Company Culture in 5 Steps
- Determine your culture goals.
- Assess your current company culture.
- Revisit and define core values.
- Map out a plan with benchmarks.
- Evaluate your progress.
1. Determine Your Culture Goals
Before you can make moves to improve your company culture, establish an idea of what your ideal culture looks like. How should managers interact with their direct reports? How often should meetings be held? Are you imagining a loud, vibrant and creative space, or do you envision the office being more quiet with an emphasis on independent work? Answering these questions before evaluating your current organizational culture is important to ensure you’re not influenced by the results.
2. Assess Your Current Company Culture
Next, figure out what you’re up against by assessing your company and determining which type of organizational culture it follows. Then, evaluate the existing elements — or lack thereof — that contribute to the type of culture you want to see. Is your team communicative, or are employees siloed from one another? How accessible is the C-suite, and are they transparent with the rest of the team? Do employees have opportunities to make career advancements?
A major indicator of a strong company culture is employee engagement. Conduct a quick employee engagement survey to get a pulse on how motivated, passionate and invested your employees are in the company. Then analyze the results and determine which data sets skew more negative than positive — these are the areas of your company that require immediate attention.
Finally, ask your employees for their thoughts and opinions on the type of culture they’d like to see. No one person is responsible for defining a company’s culture, and your culture will naturally evolve as your company grows and new hires are onboarded. Take your employees’ input into consideration as each individual will play a role in shaping the new culture you create.
3. Revisit and Define Your Core Values
Now, take a look at your core values and make sure they still work for the organization you wish to have. If you haven’t laid out your core values yet, now’s the time to do so. A strong organizational culture is the result of carefully thought out and continuously upheld values. If necessary, rework your core values so that they make sense with the envisioned company culture and are well structured to guide its evolution.
Consider your organization’s long-term goals — what do you hope to achieve within the next five years and how do you plan to get there? If you aspire to be at the forefront of your industry, include innovation as one of your core values.
From there, take steps to foster an innovative culture by establishing regular brainstorming sessions and creating opportunities for collaborative work. Ensure all the key players — C-suite members, long-term employees and HR reps — are aligned on your core values before putting them into production and promoting them to the team.
4. Map Out a Plan and Benchmarks to Reach
It’s easy to analyze the data and call it a day, but your team is counting on you to take action. If you say you’re going to improve company culture, follow through on that promise and establish positive habits the rest of the company can pick up. A winning culture is founded on communication, trust and movement between all members of the company, and leadership is no exception to that rule.
Once you’ve identified your organization’s areas for improvement, develop a strategy, establish a timeline and set benchmarks so you can gauge your progress. For example, if your team aims to improve diversity and inclusion within your company culture, survey your employees to determine areas of your culture that could be more inclusive, set diversity hiring goals or host regular diversity and inclusion training sessions. If your team fails to meet benchmarks, you’ll know whether you need to ramp up your efforts or scale back your goals to be more attainable.
When developing an action plan, feel free to use the following guidelines to improve major points of company culture:
Model Your Values
Simply put, the best way to encourage a core value or behavior is to lead by example. “Do as I say, not as I do” isn’t going to fly. If executives expect one thing from employees but do another, leadership will start to appear disingenuous.
Reinforce Positive Behaviors
Encourage HR to develop special perk packages or recognition awards to reward employees for adhering to and promoting your company values. Even simpler, create a message board or meeting session where employees can shout out their peers and management can praise their reports for going the extra mile.
Discourage Negative Behaviors
Similarly, make sure any activities or attitudes that are not in line with your company culture don’t go overlooked. Allowing counterproductive behaviors to continue signals the company isn’t serious about the core values laid forth.
Create Committees and Employee Groups
Assemble a team to help organize events and promote exciting initiatives that align with your core values. Company-wide events will foster employee relationships and ensure the entire team is aware of — and supporting — your values.
Go a step further and segment the responsibilities of each initiative across multiple committees. For example, establish a health and wellness committee to oversee wellness initiatives, a charity committee to coordinate volunteer opportunities and a diversity and inclusion committee to focus solely on improving diversity efforts. This approach will help to ensure all important aspects of your culture are properly supported.
Hire for Cultural Add, Not Cultural Fit
Gone are the days of hiring candidates that neatly fit into your company’s mold. Instead, recruiters are focused on the cultural add hiring model and identifying individuals who not only share in the company’s core values, but bring a unique perspective to the table that can help the organization grow.
Finalize Your Employee Value Proposition
An employee value proposition is the backbone of your employer brand and must answer two essential questions: What can employees expect of your company and what does your company expect of the candidate or employee? Your employee value proposition should accurately explain what kind of culture prospective candidates can look forward to as an employee at your company. Because an employee value proposition is utilized during the recruitment stage, approach it as a way to gauge the desirability of your company culture.
5. Evaluate Your Progress
No successful strategy is complete without assessing your plan’s progress. While carrying out your plan, ask your employees for their feedback. This will help make sure that your efforts are not only effective, but that your objectives have the backing of your staff. Anonymous pulse surveys where individuals can provide feedback will ultimately help to create a positive work culture built on trust and communication.
4 Examples of Changing Company Culture
Improving your company culture is no small feat, but it can be done. Take a look at some of these examples of four companies that are making moves to change organizational culture for the better.
4 Examples of Changing Organizational Culture
- Enhance collaborative workspaces.
- Promote and practice work-life balance.
- Apply hiring best practices.
- Establish a culture committee.
1. Provide Collaborative Workspaces
Chicago-based IT consulting firm Kin + Carta purposefully designed its office floor plan with company culture in mind. “We wanted every space in our office to be truly functional and usable for our employees while also allowing the office to highlight our culture,” Valerie Sokola, executive assistant and senior office manager, told Built In. “We mixed open collaboration areas with bookable conference rooms, sit-to-stand desks and networking areas to give our employees a variety of choices for how and where they can work.”
2. Promote and Practice Work-Life Balance
To account for life outside of work, HyperScience developed a perks-package that enables its employees to be their best selves both at and beyond the office. The New York-based AI company offers employees 30 days of paid PTO annually, commuter benefits, professional development opportunities, six-month parental leave and childcare stipends.
“HyperScience gives employees the ability to do our jobs exceptionally well without compromising our lives outside of the office — or the lives of our colleagues,” Sarah Bierenbaum, vice president of customer success, told Built In. “I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a lover of theatre, a swimmer — the list goes on. The benefits, the perks and the culture they support allow me to bring my full self to the table and know I’m welcome.”
3. Apply Hiring Best Practices
For the team at Paylocity, a cloud-based payroll and HCM software company, hiring for culture has been the key to successfully improving their organizational culture. “As we look to grow our teams, we look for folks that will add to and improve our culture; tech skills are not enough,” Christine Pellini, vice president of product and technology at Paylocity, told Built In.
“We’re fortunate to have a strong organizational culture and articulation of that in our principles, which we make part of our onboarding for everyone that joins us,” Brian Wolkenberg, director of product and technology, added. “Successful teams engrain our principles into their routines and norms, and include regular feedback loops on how well we’re living them. Lastly, we create opportunities for teams to meet up throughout the year to reinforce culture and strengthen relationships.”
4. Establish a Culture Committee
For OwnBackup, a cloud-based backup solutions provider located in New York, establishing a culture committee helped ensure all their culture initiatives stayed on track. The committee includes “employees from across the company who are tasked with ensuring we maintain our culture as we continue scaling rapidly,” Robert Ween, regional sales manager, told Built In.
“The committee proposes ideas such as community service events, fun outings, best practices for employee engagement, optimizing the new hire experience and soliciting feedback from the team. It’s special to us that employees have a chance to work together to make sure we stay true to our core values and keep building our culture.”
Company culture is not a buzzword to use when interviewing candidates or in internal communications. Organizational culture is the shared set of values, attitudes and beliefs that shape your company. It’s a significant part of your employer branding efforts, and not something to be overlooked. If your company culture appears to be lacking, take the necessary steps to cultivate a well-rounded work environment and employee experience you’re proud of.
Strategies to decode, maintain and improve company culture.