How to Improve Company Culture: 15 Brilliant Ideas

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October 21, 2020

You found our guide on how to improve company culture.

Company culture encompasses the everyday behaviors, attitudes, and policies that affect a company’s work environment. A company builds a superb team culture through a series of choices that empowers employees to work at their best. For example, by opening up communication or investing in team building.

However, companies sometimes either lose track of or do not put a lot of thought into the company culture being built. In these cases, businesses may be surprised to find that the company culture has developed into something unintentionally toxic. These toxic team cultures can potentially interfere with your team’s productivity, and thus hurt your company’s revenue and reputation.

So, how do you improve company culture?

If your office culture is in dire need of changing or you just want to boost morale a bit, then continue on for our comprehensive guide to improving team culture.

Ideas to improve company culture

From creating a safe space to opening up opportunities for professional development, these ideas are all aspects of how to improve company culture.

1. Establish purpose

One of the most basic ways to improve team culture is to show what your company is about by establishing purpose.

Establishing purpose in the workplace can take the form of:

  • Posting your company mission statement
  • Circulating your company core values
  • Setting clear expectations for team members
  • Specifying project timelines
  • Holding regular all-hands meetings where departments share their progress

Clarifying your company’s focus gives your team a sense of direction to buy into and support. Knowing how individual efforts fit into the bigger picture boosts productivity and motivates employees because then team members feel their work truly matters.

2. Open up communication

When communication is not forthcoming, employees can easily feel stifled or out of the loop. If your team has suggestions to boost team performance, then you should provide a space where employees can speak their mind. Similarly, if you do not communicate expectations or updates about where projects are going, team members feel disengaged, undervalued, and directionless.

Some examples of opening up communication are:

  • Being available for employees
  • Setting up an anonymous feedback system
  • Listening to feedback
  • Checking in regularly with employee one-on-ones
  • Encouraging cross-functional team collaboration

In addition to opening up communication between employees and managers, you should also encourage your team to cooperate cross-departmentally as much as possible. Your team will not only have a better idea of what coworkers do, but employees may be inspired by hearing more about different working styles or viewpoints.

You can also focus on developing team building skills.

3. Lead by example

If you have ever heard the adage, “if you talk the talk, then you gotta walk the walk”, then you will be familiar with the ethos behind this idea to improve team culture. While successfully articulating your company values or mission statement is commendable, management needs to see these concepts through with actions for lasting change to occur.

Leading by example is crucial because it helps build employee trust toward the company. If your company professes “Level 10 integrity”, then your employees will experience a great deal of cognitive dissonance if they see management engaging in unethical behavior. This cognitive dissonance results in employee disengagement and productivity loss.

4. Create psychological safety

Psychological safety is when people feel comfortable being and expressing themselves. In the workplace, creating a psychologically safe environment makes the office a more pleasant place to work by letting workers feel recognized and included. Psychologically safe employees also feel emboldened to take risks and innovate without fear of retaliation in case of failure.

Some ways to create psychological safety are:

  • Institute committees for sexual harassment, underrepresented groups, and similar important initiatives.
  • Demonstrate respect for everyone, no matter their role
  • Give employees autonomy by not micromanaging
  • Enact an environment of reform, not retribution, when employees make mistakes

Introducing psychological safety uplifts your team and gives everyone an equal chance at success, while your organization benefits from increased productivity and innovation.

5. Schedule team building

Depending on the team culture you are building, scheduling team building games can be key to cultivating badly needed employee friendships. Through regular team building programming, your team will have opportunities to communicate informally and learn each others’ strengths.

Team building not only lightens an otherwise serious workplace environment, but the bonds that result also spur employee engagement by helping employees feel more invested in each other and the company. By making team building part of your company culture, you demonstrate that you care about employee well-being and providing a good time at work.

Adding icebreaker questions to meetings can be an easy way to get started with team building too.

6. Reward excellence

When team members turn in good work, be sure to recognize achievements. Rewarding excellence encourages employees to go above and beyond and prevents team members from feeling unappreciated.

Additionally, a company that acknowledges your accomplishments builds a team culture of mutual respect by letting the rest of the team know of their coworkers’ amazing deeds. To publicly reward excellence, create a Slack channel dedicated to employee shoutouts. Our internal channel is called #you-are-awesome.

7. Encourage mentoring

To create a more open workplace, encourage mentoring among more experienced employees. Not only will mentoring engage your senior team members, but it will also pave the way for newer hires, who may benefit greatly from a mentor’s experience and connections.

This knowledge sharing signals to your team that your company values collaboration and that others in the organization are invested in professional development. Set up a mentor buddy system and pair mentors with new employees in the same department. When you instill these principles in your team, team culture will improve as employees help better each other.

By the way, you may way to recognize your mentors and boss too. Here are some Boss’s Day gift ideas.

8. Provide further learning

Similar to the previous idea, it is critical to provide learning opportunities from outside the company, as well. Bringing in knowledge from other sources forms a team culture that is inquisitive and willing to learn, which increases productivity.

Some ways you can set up opportunities for professional development are:

  • Stipends to attend industry conferences
  • Funds to help your team purchase books to further their education
  • Scholarships for team members to take online classes to pick up new skills
  • TED talk-like events where team members can share specialized knowledge
  • Invitations to bring influential speakers to the company
  • Book clubs to encourage team members to learn together

Granting these resources for further learning is an investment in your team. Not only will employees gain essential knowledge to bring back to the company, but the organization will show the desire for employees to grow and excel.

You may want to read team building books too.

9. Be transparent

For a company to be successful, create trust between employees by embracing transparency. Transparency lets employees feel comfortable, so your team is not left second guessing what management is doing or the reasoning behind decisions.

Some aspects of the company you should be transparent about are:

  • Company policies
  • Company direction
  • Management’s expectations
  • Salaries
  • Rewards and why they occur
  • Wrongdoing and its consequences

Creating a transparent team culture enables your team to fully engage and make informed decisions at work. Greater trust also helps team members cooperate, which raises team performance.

10. Abolish problematic behavior

If you see any problematic behavior, then it is your responsibility to call it out and abolish it. You must display that this behavior is undesirable and actually leads to consequences.

While these actions may seem harsh, clearly defining what behavior is not tolerated creates boundaries and differentiates between what the company endorses and what it does not. If your company sets standards and does not follow through, then your employees will easily lose trust in management, which causes your team culture to suffer.

Strategies to improve team culture

If your team culture is due for some fine-tuning, then this procedure will help you continuously optimize and maintain your team culture.

11. Revisit your company’s core values

First, think back to your company’s roots. When your team culture gets off track, sometimes it is easy to forget about your company core values. Thus, consider what these values were and why you designated them as founding principles in the first place. Decide if these principles are still as important to you now as they were before. Re-share your core values with your team, or hold a meeting to unveil new ones. Consider asking your employees for input on company values.

12. Take stock of your company culture

Once you are reminded of what your company stands for, then take stock of your current team culture. Be brutally honest and determine what parts of the culture falls short of the ideal, and what parts are still working. Ask for genuine feedback from your team about what it is like to work at the company.

13. Brainstorm improvements

When you are clear about your company’s current state, call a meeting with other members of management to brainstorm improvements to redefine your company culture. During the meeting, put together a set of policies that restructures your company’s attitude towards working, the workplace, and each other.

14. Execute your plan

Now that you have formed new company policies, share them with the rest of the team and start enforcing them. If team members start acting in a way contrary to the new team culture, then hold the employees accountable and educate them on your team’s plans for evolution.

15. Ask for feedback periodically

After executing your plan, you may think that the process to improve your company culture is over. However, growth for your company does not stop with these improvements. In fact, your team culture is constantly changing with every decision you and your team makes, which means you must continually assess your team culture’s progress.

To help with your recurrent appraisals, ask for feedback from your team periodically. When your team raises areas of concern, that unease may be the first sign that your team culture is diverging and you must start the process over again.

Making the workplace a more pleasant place is an important part of being an effective leader. Thus, tweaking your team culture to make members feel more included and comfortable to work at their best is one of the top skills a manager has.

Final thoughts

Improving company culture is an important part of operating a successful business. You can and should invest in team culture because it will help improve communication, collaborating and many other factors.

Next, check out our list of team building quotes you can share to inspire team cohesion an culture.

FAQ: Improving company culture

Interested in learning more about team culture? Here are some commonly asked questions about ways to improve team culture.

What is company culture?

Company culture comprises the attitudes, values, and conduct that teams espouse in their day-to-day operations. Team culture is important because it determines whether the workplace is an enjoyable environment for employees to thrive.

How do you build team culture?

Building team culture includes both direct and indirect elements. For example, you may build team culture by planning team building activities or by creating inside jokes. Team culture can also be affected by company values, mission and other organizational parameters.

What are the benefits of team culture?

Team culture helps groups of people coordinate and communicate better. As a result, you can expect a healthy team culture to correlate with business and revenue growth, as well as metrics like improved engagement and retention.

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Author: Jessica Chen

Team building content expert. Jessica has a double major in English and Asian Studies, and experience working with teams across cultures; including 3+ years in Taiwan.

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