by Anthony Ko, General Manager at Enplug Digital Signage Software
All of us know what a toxic workplace culture looks like. In fact, unhealthy work environments are so common that they’re the subject of more than one TV comedy. Who doesn’t love watching someone else’s workplace drama?
But the quarrelsome coworkers that make for great TV are no fun when you’re the one dealing with a toxic workplace. Not only does this kind of culture keep you from being productive, but it also makes you dread going to work because you expect anger, frustration, and miscommunication from other people. All of which takes a toll on your mental health.
If you’re in a decision-making role at your organization, you have the responsibility to ensure your company’s culture benefits everyone. But how can you improve company culture? Use the next five techniques to transform your negative workplace culture into something positive.
Ask Employees for Feedback
When reimagining company culture, the first thing you should do is audit your existing one. Organizational culture is often unwritten and unspoken, so you’ll have to dive deep to determine what kind of culture your company has. There are several different kinds that vary depending on who you ask (and they often overlap), but identifying what your current environment is like will give you a path to improve company culture.
The best place to start is with your employees. Culture is made of people, so send your employees a survey and ask the following questions:
- What do they believe the company’s values are, and what do they want those values to be?
- Do they feel the company is driven toward a purpose?
- What are people’s personalities like? What would your employees like to see from management when it comes to conflict mediation and resolution?
- What do your employees think of their physical environment? Your space’s architecture might not be conducive to the atmosphere you want to create.
- Do your employees feel that the company is investing in their success, or do they feel disposable?
Culture change in the workplace requires everyone’s participation, so collaborate with your employees to create the kind of environment everyone wants to work in. Don’t stop at asking these questions once, either; ask at multiple points throughout the process.
Establish (Or Redefine) Your Core Values
Every company needs values (and no, things like “money” and “success” don’t count). They define what’s important to your organization. Not having values might be a reason why your workplace culture is unproductive — you and your employees are showing up but you’re unsure of what anyone is really there for.
Put your values to paper. Similarly, your company might say it has values, but they don’t align with your company culture. Values can be anything, but examples include:
Do you want a team with the best talent, unique backgrounds, and perspectives? Then one of your values should be diversity. Does your business model rely on making customers happy? One of your values should be customer experience. Do you want to engage employees through participation and compromise? You should value democracy. Determine what direction you want to take your company and select values that support it.
Adopt New Tools & Technologies
Your company’s tools influence culture significantly. 35% of workers in the U.S. say they would pass up a job opportunity if they believed the culture wasn’t a fit for them, and one of the most significant indicators of a company’s culture is its resources. For example, an organization that relies on paper communication is outdated, and employees will be constantly frustrated by shifting paperwork around.
Implement technologies that make it easy for all your employees to be on the same page. Start by looking at what frustrates people the most. If broken communication systems delay information, then explore task management platforms like Trello and Monday.com to track assignments. If obsolescence is a source of irritation, consider installing digital signage screens to modernize your organization’s environment.
Encourage Relationship Building
A strong organizational culture requires equally strong interpersonal relationships. Employees that clash with one another contribute to an environment no one wants to be a part of. The friendlier your employees are with each other, the more they will enjoy coming to work.
As restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic continue to ease initiate relationship-building activities. Team bonding activities include getting drinks after work, game days, weekend field trips, and trivia nights. If your employees are just getting to know each other, start with catered lunches — everyone is already at work, and it provides people with an excuse to gather and talk about different subjects.
Empower Your Employees (Inside and Outside of Work)
Companies that invest in their employees experience higher retention rates and increased employee satisfaction. According to LinkedIn, 93% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their careers.
To cultivate your employees’ growth, offer mentorship programs, continued learning opportunities, and one-on-one feedback sessions with managers. Educating your employees throughout their tenure at your company enhances their skills, which benefits your business’s overall success and saves you money from replacing employees who leave. A small way to begin is buying your employees a subscription to LinkedIn Learning, which has thousands of webinars on relevant business subjects.
Offer flexible working hours and conditions, too. Everyone has a life outside of work, but infantilizing employees by dictating when, where, and how they can do their jobs stifles their creativity and productivity. Is the amount of time spent in an office what makes an employee successful? No, so it’s not a big deal if someone needs to continue working from home for a few days a week.
If you want to know how to change company culture, then you need to understand your employees: their needs, wants, skills, and personalities. Work closely with them to create the kind of work environment everyone is excited to belong to. Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, either, so monitor your progress with regular employee check-ins and be patient through growing pains.