What Is Workplace Culture and How To Create A Positive One

Today, workplace culture is top of mind among employees and job seekers alike. It’s one of the most important criteria they consider when deciding to stay with or apply for jobs with a company.

But what exactly is workplace culture and why is it something that any forward-looking business should put at the center of their workplace strategy?

In this article, we’ll analyze this concept, explore why it’s important, and understand some ways you can cultivate a winning, positive company culture that puts people first

What Is Workplace Culture?

The term “workplace culture” has been around for decades. It’s often used interchangeably with the terms “corporate culture” or “company culture.”

In essence, workplace culture is understood to be a combination of beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that define the atmosphere of an organization.

Why Is Workplace Culture Important?

In years gone by, it wouldn’t be uncommon for people’s eyes to glaze over when the term “workplace culture” came up at management meetings. Some would dismiss the notion as nothing more than “HR speak” or “fluff.”

But today, increasing numbers of businesses recognize the pivotal role that positive workplace culture has in ensuring their long-term success and viability. The reasons are compelling and multi-faceted.

When an organization cultivates and sustains a positive workplace culture, everyone pulls in the same direction. People behave in ways that advance the organization’s overarching goals; they also feel that their own interests and wellbeing are considered and respected.

People who work at companies with a culture that they believe aligns with their values feel safe, comfortable, and more confident. They’re open to exploring opportunities, taking calculated risks, voicing new ideas, and going the extra mile without feelings of resentment.

The net result of this goes directly to the bottom line. Indeed, numerous studies point to a direct link between the strength of a company’s culture and its success in the marketplace.

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If you’re looking for guidance on how to build a strong workplace culture or feel there’s an opportunity to breathe new life into your existing one, here are some tips to consider:

Prioritize Trust

Leaders and management teams will only succeed in building constructive, mutually rewarding, and enduring relationships with their employees if there’s reciprocal trust.

However, trust isn’t something that can be built overnight, bought, or mandated. It takes time and conscious effort.

Regular and transparent communication with employees is a fundamental building block for forging and maintaining relationships of trust. This means being open about not just what’s going well in the business but also about setbacks and where challenges may lie. It also means being honest about any mistakes your leadership team may have made and what you’re doing to fix them.

Understand Your Existing Culture

If you’re an established business, you’ll inevitably already have a company culture in place. So, it’s sensible to begin your efforts to improve it by understanding its nature and where areas for improvement may lie. As a leader, it’s important to remember that your view and understanding of your organizational culture could differ vastly from what your people feel and experience.

A good way to gauge the temperature of your current company culture is to enlist the help of your HR department and engage in face-to-face discussions with teams at all levels within the organization.

Here, it’s a good idea to work with an external consultant to ensure these efforts are focused and deliver meaningful results.

Define Your Ideal Culture

Once you’ve established a baseline as to what your existing culture is and isn’t, it’s time to precisely define what you’d like it to be – and what you need to do to get there.

At this point, the importance of communication can’t be understated. Before you go ahead and publish your vision, invite feedback from your people and teams.

Once you’ve gathered and considered this input, the next step is to document your culture, translate it into policies and procedures, and communicate it company-wide. You’ll need to ensure that everyone is clear on goals and expectations.

Measure, Measure, Measure

Even if you have the best intentions in the world about building a positive work culture, you’ll never know how effective your efforts are unless you take regular temperature checks to assess your progress.

Focus groups, employee surveys, and websites such as Glassdoor are excellent sources of formal and informal employee feedback.

Get Serious about Diversity and Inclusion

Everyone wants to get up in the morning and go to work at a place where they feel accepted and welcomed for who they are.

This means you need to invest time and effort into building a positive and inclusive work culture where individuals from all backgrounds feel safe and respected.

Work with your HR team to educate employees and managers on the bottom-line value of diversity — and how to support it with practical skills. Consider bringing in an outside diversity expert to provide this if it’s not an area of expertise within your in-house HR department.

Benefits of Creating a Positive Culture

Building a positive organizational culture takes focus and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Here are some of the benefits you can expect in return for your endeavors in this area:

More Effective Recruitment

Once you and your hiring managers clearly know the type of individuals you do (and don’t) want to invite into your organization, you’ll streamline and simplify your hiring process. It’ll be easy to identify candidates who share your vision.

Happy People

Businesses that have thriving cultures have a certain “feel” about them. Employees are kind and respectful to one another, teamwork happens without effort, and people find meaning in their work and take pride in it. And we all know the saying “happy employees mean happy customers.”

A Positive Brand Image

Following the previous point, your employees are your most powerful brand ambassadors; they have the power to make or break your marketplace reputation.

A positive work environment is a powerful magnet for attracting talented people.

The Ideal Outcome

If you’re a leader looking to take your workplace culture to the next level, Ideal Outcomes is here to help.

 We help businesses maximize their most important asset—people.

 Our experts provide organizational development consulting, change implementation, talent management, coaching, diversity and inclusion, and cultural integration to businesses of all sizes.

 If you’d like to find out more about our services, please get in touch.