When is the last time you gave your company culture a checkup?
The culture of your organization shapes the experience of everyone in it, so the last thing you want is for a problem to take root and start growing without you noticing. But too often companies will leave their culture to develop on its own. And that opens the door for unwanted negativity to creep in.
A poor culture can hurt your workforce. Productivity, camaraderie, and retention all suffer when the workplace environment doesn’t positively engage your employees. And unfortunately, Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report unveiled a sobering fact: a whopping 64% of employees don’t feel like they have a strong work culture.
Here are the signs that your culture is ailing, and how you can take steps to cure it.
First, check and make sure the people in your organization know its values. Values are what guide your operations and shape your identity, and a company that doesn’t know its own values won’t be able to develop the culture it wants. If the people in your organization don’t know the values — and the TINYpulse Employee Engagement Survey revealed that over half of employees don’t — you could end up with a culture where people prioritize the wrong principles and even work against each other.
It’s not enough to just pick some pretty-sounding words and write them on your website. Leadership needs to model them for the rest of your organization. Identify the values that you want to guide your company. Then commit to following them.
Us vs. Them
Do your employees treat each other as colleagues or as competition? There should be regular collaboration and respect across within and across all teams. When employees are working against each other, constantly butting heads, or trying to sabotage one another, it harms both their happiness and your business.
According to SHRM, the relationship with coworkers is a more important factor in employee engagement than the relationship with immediate supervisors. Our own findings confirm that — employees told us that their peers are the number one reason they go the extra mile.
That’s why it’s vital to evaluate candidates on whether they’ll be a positive addition to your culture. Will they mesh well with others in your organization? Remember that skills can be taught. Personality can’t.
Leaders With Zipped Lips
If your leaders keep information from their employees, then you have a problem. It’s tempting to assume that keeping information on a need-to-know basis will protect the company or keep employees from worrying, but that kind of secrecy does more harm than good. A culture defined by secrecy isn’t healthy for anyone. Employees operate with uncertainty and even fear, and the company is run by the rumor mill rather than its leaders.
Our Employee Engagement Survey showed that transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. So make transparent communication a priority for your leadership. Share updates on a regular basis, ideally through in-person meetings.
Yes, this can mean letting employees know if the company is experiencing difficulties. But being kept in the dark causes way more anxiety than just knowing what the bad news is. Letting employees know what’s really going on shows that you respect them and helps them make informed decisions.
Failure to Listen
Do your employees give you honest feedback? If you don’t have a clear and accessible way for employees to have their say, your culture will feel more like a dictatorship than a company. Only when employees know that they can have their input taken seriously will they feel like a valued part of the organization.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t work to just say you have an open-door policy. You have to be proactive about seeking out feedback and making employees feel safe about giving it. That means adopting a variety of strategies for communicating with your workers. Leaving your door open (figuratively or literally) is just step one. Ask for their feedback in one-on-one meetings with their supervisors. Use frequent surveys to keep track of employee sentiment.
But that’s not all. BlessingWhite found that asking for feedback and not doing anything about it is even worse for employee morale than not taking feedback at all. So commit the time and resources to act on the things your employees are telling you.
It’s important to regularly assess your culture to make sure none of these problems have snuck in. But by using open communication, fostering camaraderie, and living your values, you can keep your company’s culture healthy and thriving.