How to improve company culture: 11 effective practices to implement today

Company culture is the set of values, beliefs, behaviors, customs, and social norms that shape the way employees interact and work together within an organization. A strong company culture, aligned to the company’s mission, can have a significant impact on the overall success and performance of a business. It can improve employee engagement, increase productivity, and lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention. In today’s competitive job market, a positive company culture can also make it easier to attract and retain top talent.

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But importantly, a good workplace culture can also result in better mental health of current employees, providing employees with the resources and support they need to be healthy, happy and flourishing. It’s not just about the work in and of itself, but the organizational culture plays a big role in how people’s mental health is impacted by their jobs. Workplace happiness plays a big role in how we feel personally and our contribution to the workplace.

Why is it important to have a strong company culture?

  • Makes hiring people easier

One of the most important benefits of a strong company culture is that it makes hiring people easier. When employees are proud of their company and are excited to talk about it to others, they naturally become advocates for the business. This helps to create a positive reputation for the company, which can attract more job applicants and make the hiring process more efficient, as potential employees are already engaged through a favorable perception.

Today’s candidates expect a good workplace culture that has strong company values and will seek out a strong culture and do their research to find out whether it’s an organization that cares about their business and their employees. To attract job seekers it’s important to express the core values and what the company stands for in a way that is inspiring and engaging. Through a compelling employee value proposition potential employees will understand the company’s core values and be able to see if it’s the desired culture for them.

  • Improves quality of work

Another key benefit of a positive company culture is that it improves the quality of work. When employees feel valued and respected, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated to do their best work. They are also more likely to be creative and innovative, which can lead to new ideas and improved processes. This can help to increase overall productivity and efficiency within the organization. We recently looked at data from 150,000 conversations that 11,300 employees from 11 organizations and 60 countries had with Wysa’s AI chat platform, over thirteen months (July 2021-July 2022) to explore the mental health of employees in over 60 countries, covering Africa, South America, Australia and Pacific Regions, Asia, Europe, and North America. A third (32%) employees expressed feeling low, bad, numb, depressed, and sad throughout the day. 48% of employees from North America and 45% from Europe reported symptoms of mild or more anxiety. The case for using Wysa was clear, with a very obvious economic benefit to large corporations. Using Wysa could save an employer of 50,000 employees 30 million USD per year, due to better retention and productivity.

  • Increases employee retention

A strong company culture can help to increase employee retention. When employees feel that they are part of a team and are valued for their contributions, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave the company. This can save the company time and money that would otherwise be spent on recruiting and training new employees.

Of course, people leave due to salary or practicalities, but often it’s the corporate culture that really makes a difference. Senior management need to be able to work with human resources to create an environment that isn’t too stressful or anxiety provoking. 

  • Makes teams resilient to change

A strong company culture can also make teams more resilient to change. When employees feel that they are part of a team and are valued for their contributions, they are more likely to be open to change and more likely to be able to adapt to new situations. This can make the organization more agile and better able to navigate through times of change.

A positive workplace culture is one where people feel psychologically safe, and open to trying new things, voicing their opinions, and working with other team members. When we feel safe we are more open to trying new things, rather than having fear about them, the latter of which may negatively impact mental health and create unneccessary stress.

  • Fosters teamwork

Improving company culture helps to foster teamwork. When employees feel that they are part of a team and are working towards a common goal, they are more likely to feel a sense of camaraderie and to work together more effectively. This can lead to improved collaboration, better communication, and increased productivity.

We’re social beings, so being in a team environment makes a difference to our mental health. We feel better when we have people we are engaged with, who are on our side, and who we feel comfortable expressing our thoughts with.

11 ways to improve your company culture

1. Encourage employee recognition

It’s really important to encourage employee recognition. When employees are recognized for their contributions, they feel valued and appreciated. This can lead to increased motivation, improved productivity, and higher levels of employee satisfaction.

And good mental health. Because reward and recognition triggers off chemicals in the brain that reduce your stress levels which in turn boosts your wellbeing. A great way of improving mental health through company culture is a peer to peer recognition scheme, where team members acknowledge the contribution and success of their colleagues. This brings together the importance of recognition and the need for social safety.

2. Reward your employees

Another effective practice is to reward employees for their hard work. This can include offering bonuses, promotions, or other incentives, helping to increase motivation. A reward doesn’t have to come in the form of salary, but might be about days off or extra holiday (which is great for wellness and mental health) or particular incentives that are aligned to what people are interested in, such as theatre tickets, or a gym membership.

3. Listen to employee needs

Listening to employee needs and providing a platform for them to share their suggestions can also help to improve a company’s culture. When employees feel that their opinions and ideas are valued, they are more likely to feel engaged and motivated to do their best work. And they will feel acknowledged and safe, like they are valued – which improves mental health.

4. Communicate openly and transparently

Open and transparent communication is another key aspect of improving company culture. When employees feel that they are kept informed about what is happening within the organization, they are more likely to trust and respect their leaders – and feel part of a collaborative community.  Working at an organization where it’s not clear what is happening, or you feel in the dark, can mean that an employee feels unsafe or uncertain, impacting their well-being. Uncertainty in the workplace can lead to individuals feeling stressed or anxious – our All Worked Up research revealed that a third of employees are experiencing levels of anxiety or low mood that would warrant further investigation. Different departments and leaders play an important role in creating processes and procedures for important communication channels, but it’s also important to create an informal positive culture where people can express themselves openly.

5. Ensure psychological safety

Ensuring psychological safety is also important for improving company culture. When employees feel that it is safe to take risks, express their opinions, and ask questions, they are more likely to be creative and innovative. This makes day to day workplace life a bit more exciting and energising, resulting in a more positive culture. A diverse workforce isn’t just about protected characteristics – it includes diversity of thought. A good company culture and successful business need to have an innovative and dynamic culture where people are comfortable speaking out and speaking up. 

6. Offer mental health benefits

Offering mental health benefits, such as counseling or employee assistance programs, can also help to improve company culture. Employees who have good mental health are happier and better at their job. No one can be doing their best work when they are feeling stressed, anxious, or vulnerable.

Wysa is used by employers around the world. Wysa caters to the full spectrum of employee mental health needs through the AI penguin that makes them feel heard and never judged. Through access to wellbeing coaches and 150+ evidence-based techniques it can help across domains such as anxiety, stress, self-esteem, relationships, mindfulness, sleep, and more.

7. Provide mentoring and coaching services

Providing mentoring and coaching services is another effective way to improve company culture. This can include pairing experienced employees with newer hires, providing training and development opportunities, or offering coaching and guidance to employees at all levels of the organization. Key benefits include developing the skills and knowledge of employees, which can lead to improved performance and increased job satisfaction.

One to ones are really essential, so that an individual can get across their needs and wants and then be connected to meaningful opportunities for their professional development. Engaged employees who want to improve their skills and capabilities in a way that is aligned to their career trajectory and feel they are being supported to do so will not only stick around longer, but do a better job.

8. Cultivate strong employee relationships

Cultivating strong employee relationships is also important for improving company culture. This can include promoting teamwork, encouraging collaboration, and fostering a sense of community within the organization. When employees feel that they are part of a team and are working together towards a common goal, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave the company. 

Team building activities are a great way to do this. This can be through informal get togethers and fun activities or more structured problem solving tasks and challenges that bring people together and have them working towards a common goal. It can be harder with remote and hybrid working, but the occasional in person get togethers can go a long way to enhancing the employee experience and creating meaningful relationships.

9. Promote employee autonomy

Promoting employee autonomy is another effective way to improve company culture. This can include giving employees more control over their work, allowing them to make decisions, and giving them the freedom to take risks. When employees feel that they are trusted and respected, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated to do their best work. They will find that they can give important individual contributions and create opportunities for growth that benefit the entire organization. Give people projects to work on and ownership of certain goals, and the freedom for them to deliver in whatever way feels right for them and their overall outcome. By acknowledging the importance of individual contributions and giving them space to flourish not all does their mental health benefit, but so does their work output.

10. Offer flexibility

Offering flexibility is also important for improving company culture. This can include offering flexible work hours, telecommuting options, or other arrangements that allow employees to better balance their work and personal lives. When employees feel that they have a good work-life balance, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave the company. Empowering people to have control over their jobs can increase self-esteem and confidence.

a team celebrating in the office

11. Share frequent feedback

Sharing frequent feedback is an important aspect of improving company culture. This can include providing regular performance evaluations, offering constructive feedback, and encouraging open and honest communication. Getting regular feedback not only helps improve work, but shows acknowledgement which boosts confidence. Many people want to align workplace growth to personal growth, so ask your employees what they want to learn and how they want to develop, and create the opportunities for them to do so. To improve communication in this sphere, have regular one to ones and feedback procedures so that it’s simple to see what’s going well, what can be improved upon, and the next steps.

Improving company culture is a complex and ongoing process that requires commitment and effort from all levels of the organization. By implementing effective practices not only will companies see improved performance, increased job satisfaction, and higher levels of employee retention, but highly engaged and happy employees who in turn are healthier employees.

Photo by Yan Krukau

Photo by Jopwell

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