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The Anatomy of an Exceptional Company Culture

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What makes a good company culture? There isn’t one simple answer; each company with a strong culture has a unique combination of values that works for their employees, their industry, and their clientele.

Still, we’re all trying to nail down the “secrets” to a strong company culture. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, “66 percent of executives believe culture is more important than a company’s business strategy or operations model.”

Business owners are right to be concerned with the strength and quality of their organizational culture. Knowing exactly how to leverage the existing character of an organization and improve upon it can be tricky, but at Peoplelytics, we believe it starts with good data.

3 Key takeaways you need to know
  • Company culture is a make or break for your company
  • Taking care of your employees is as crucial as taking care of your customers
  • Create impactful relationships with your employees
positive company culture

Top 10 Markers of A Good Company Culture

1. A Sense of Job Security

Sometimes, reductions in force are unavoidable measures that companies must reluctantly take to the right size or to improve their balance sheets. However, over time, high-frequency and/or high-impact layoffs can significantly erode employee morale, creating a culture of fear and distrust. 

For organizations, this type of culture translates to short employee tenure and poor retention rates.

One key way to improve job security on a go-forward basis is to accurately measure needs and redundancies within your organization.

This can be accomplished through tailored employee surveys used to capture each team member’s tasks, abilities, and aptitudes. When hiring is done selectively and based on true and documented needs, layoffs are less frequent and far less severe.

2. Sincere Respect for Employees and their Contributions

Recognition, empathy, communication, and opportunities for advancement are all common strategies that come to mind when organizations seek to show respect to their valued employees. 

Though common themes and methods certainly intertwine, the way respect is shown to employees differs from industry to industry.

No matter what field an employee works in, the best way to measure respect in a company’s culture is to ask employees how they feel. 

You can take the pulse on respect within your organization through a quick and easy employee survey.  

3. Fair Pay and Benefits

Nothing makes employees feel valued and appreciated at work like fair pay and benefits. To the extent possible, employees should be compensated in line with their experience levels, geographic location, and tenure with the company. 

While cutting corners here might help you boost your bottom line in the short term, there is no substitute for a fair salary and benefits that allow employees to live a worry-free life.

Fairly compensated employees are more engaged with their work environment, more loyal to their employers, and better able to focus on doing what they are hired to do: their jobs. 

Data is available from a multitude of sources to help business leaders measure whether their employees are paid fairly.

Leverage employee feedback in your HR strategy

Get detailed insights and AI-powered recommendations with eNPS surveys and employee surveys sent through Peoplelytics.

4. Meritocratic Approach to Leadership

Almost nothing destroys a corporate culture like a lack of trust and faith in the organization’s leadership. One of the best ways to improve the perception of leadership is to ensure promotions are made based on merit.

According to the MIT Sloan School of Management, establishing a meritocratic workplace doesn’t need to involve a complete overhaul of your leadership structure or a massive expenditure of time or resources. Rather, it’s a “matter of monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of such company processes,” and of granting workers the responsibility, and the ability to make sure that promotion processes are fair.

MIT’s Sloan details “the collection and analysis of data on people-related processes and outcomes—what is referred to as “people analytics”—are key here, enabling companies to identify and correct workplace biases.”

5. Commitment to Corporate Values

Whether you’ve outlined in writing them or not, your company already has a set of core values that you aim to operate by. You may strive to practice and be known for teamwork, integrity, accountability, or innovation. Are your employees on board?

If your employees don’t know what your corporate values are, they are likely struggling to adhere to them. You can measure whether your employees understand your core values (and gather info on how they carry out these values in their work) via a survey that poses open-ended questions about beliefs surrounding corporate values. 

Once you know where your employees’ baseline of understanding lies, you can initiate efforts to improve awareness, and ultimately, implementation of your values.

6. Honesty and Transparency

Many leaders don’t like to deliver bad news.

While this is an understandable sentiment, by delivering news thoughtfully, you can gain the respect of your team and build credibility.  A workplace with a culture of honesty and transparency that flows from the top down breeds respect for leadership and loyalty among employees.

Transparency lies at the core of trustful relationships and is essential for cultivating a productive, high-achieving environment.

Harvard Business Review

Take a closer look at what you can share with your employees and how soon you can share it. Even small strides toward greater transparency can make a big difference.

7. Prioritization of Career Development  

While an employee can always advance their career by taking another role at another company, it takes a strong company culture (and great leadership) to allow them to take the next step within their current organization. 

It stands to reason that if you want to keep your most valued employees at your company, you need to prioritize their advancement and continued success.

Offering advancement opportunities to your valued team members creates a culture wherein the greater employee population will strive to work hard and prove themselves, too. Employees are excited about their careers when they know that if they continue to work hard and improve, they’ll reap greater and greater rewards. This enthusiasm translates quickly to a contagiously positive culture.

You may never know what your employees’ future goals are if you don’t ask. Employee engagement surveys can pose questions to your team members about their career targets and ambitions, identify potential for leadership development opportunities, and more.

8. Opportunities for Work-Life Balance

If you have mostly FLSA-exempt employees who don’t clock in and out on a time sheet, you may not know exactly how much time your team members are devoting to their jobs. Because of this lack of information about employee habits, many employers don’t realize that they’ve created a culture that lacks opportunities for appropriate work-life balance until it’s too late.

Almost all businesses require employees to work outside of normal hours during special projects and when a client’s needs demand it. However, if these “exceptions” become increasingly frequent, employee burnout may be the ultimate result.  

To create space for life and work to exist in harmony within your organization’s culture, you should elicit honest feedback about bandwidths, engagement, and indicators of burnout.

Building a survey to measure work-life balance is critical to ensuring your efforts to improve are successful. Keep in mind, however, that this topic, which often touches on overall mental health, may be sensitive. Employees should be permitted to answer these kinds of questions anonymously and have their responses kept confidential if they wish.

9. Openness to Innovation and New Ideas

If you asked an executive or a founder about what makes a good company culture, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that “innovation” is a highly sought-after corporate value. Innovation has a clear translation to profits and the overall success of an organization, but it can be a tough culture point to truly emulate.

In order to build a culture of innovation, companies must genuinely and actively encourage employees to ask questions, hold tough conversations, and present new ideas indiscriminately—no matter their department, tenure, or role.

Every employee may not feel comfortable bringing ideas to their direct manager or supervisor. An open-ended employee innovation survey, sent at regular intervals, can help capture these hard-to-gather ideas.

You never know which team member may have a completely innovative concept in their notes or thoughts. An organization-wide survey can show employees that input from each of them is valued and welcomed by leadership.

10. Positive Interpersonal Relationships with Colleagues and Managers

Positive interpersonal relationships with colleagues and managers make coming into work or logging in each morning a genuine joy.

While you can’t change the personalities of your employees, you can help them understand (and see the good in) their colleagues and managers by encouraging them to get to know one another on a more human level. This can be accomplished by group outings, happy hours, or other events outside of the physical or virtual workspace.

You don’t need to spend lavishly to get your employees out of the office and into a team-bonding state of mind. What types of activities might your employees like to participate in as a group? You can gather ideas for team-building activities that will be met with enthusiasm through an employee survey. Then, watch your employees thrive with the opportunity to see each other—and your company’s culture—in a new light.

Let’s Recap

Understanding what constitutes a strong company culture is not a one-size-fits-all task.

Positive company cultures are built upon values tailored to fit the needs of employees, industry needs, and clientele. Business owners need to recognize the significance of cultivating an inclusive culture, acknowledging that nurturing employee well-being is just as vital as satisfying customer needs.

Peoplelytics can help foster a positive company culture through over 50 prebuilt culture surveys. Let’s see how your company culture stacks up by checking out the demo, here!

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