7 ways to create a positive company culture
- 6 Min Read
As this year draws to a close, Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe HR discussed ways in which companies can boost their positive company culture.
Time is a finite commodity with huge value. Business owners know this all too well. When starting up or running a small business, there never seems to be enough time. Traditionally known as a circus act, plate spinning becomes a familiar and essential skill. When spinning these plates, some things inevitably will end up dropping. Take company culture. Many business owners don’t view it as a priority, but its impact can be worse than a burnt turkey at Christmas.
But not prioritising culture is a mistake. Toxic workplace culture can impact employee health and happiness levels, decrease productivity and cause good people to leave. In fact, statistics actually show that 88% of employees believe a distinct culture is important to a business’ success and a third (34%) of British employees have quit their jobs due to sloppy workplace culture. The effects can be more wide spread than within an individual business, as bad company culture is costing the UK economy a staggering £23.6 billion per year. As an early Christmas present to all employees, we’ve outlined some of the steps businesses can take to help prevent a toxic workplace culture within organisations.
Work out where you are and you have been
Collate all the data you already have, including basic metrics such as employee absences, retention and turnover. This will help spot any patterns that may be occurring which you will be able to analyse later. Other good ways of collecting this data is through exit interviews, as employees tend to be honest about why they are leaving and what the company could do to improve.
As a business leader, you need to map out some of your own time. It will be important to understand where you invest your time and if that needs to change. It is often the case the business leaders get sucked into doing a lot of the admin work, but is this really the best use of your time? In fact, a recent research revealed that CEOs of SMEs are losing a fifth of their working week to HR admin tasks.
Are you trusted?
When it comes to trust, this is more important than you may think. It’s a huge part of good management and the foundation of a good company culture. There is an increasing sense of distrust and alienation in a lot of larger corporate companies, as employees and leaders often don’t have a close relationship. This sense of trust is something that smaller sized businesses can offer, as managers have the ability to get to know all the employees and spend one-to-one time with them.
As my company has grown, I have learnt to let the people I hired do their jobs. Although tempting to still be closely involved, I’ve had to take a step back and give them autonomy, which enabled them to feel more valued and trusted.
Good communication is also key here. Knowing how and when to step in is crucial to help build these relationships with employees and build on that trust. Making time for face-to-face meetings is another way to build this trust as it proves to employees that you take genuine interest in their development and wellbeing. We have regular offsite meetings with the entire company, to outline our progress and discuss the long and short term vision.
Another piece to this puzzle is productivity. At this stage, it will be important to focus on productivity. Why? Firstly, because it’s something the UK is lagging in. In fact in a typical week, German workers could clock off on Thursday afternoon and still produce as much as British workers doing a full week’s work.
Secondly, because it can be drastically affected by a culture. In a workplace with a good culture, employees tend to be happier, less stressed and more motivated. However a recent report revealed 22% of SME leaders admitted to not measuring productivity at all. There are many different ways this can be done, for example, measuring money in versus money out, via headcount and revenue or even through an app or technology tool. It is essential to understand which process works best for your business to get a grip on which areas of your business are more productive than others.
Become more tech savvy
As mentioned earlier, a lot of business leaders are spending valuable time on HR admin. Could your time be spent in more productive areas? In most cases the answer is yes. So the best option is to get technology to do it for you.
By letting technology do the heavy lifting, you can free yourself some time for strategic thinking and more one-to-ones with your people. And there is a huge choice of tools that can capture employee or market feedback and analyse it, to help you understand these gaps.
Polish up the learning culture
Holding regular one-to-ones is a core element of employees feeling valued and they have a structured development plan ahead.. This makes it a huge motivator to keep people within an organisation. It’s not perks like beanbags and ping-pong tables that make people stay, it’s if they feel they are valued, being invested in, have responsibility and have a clear career path ahead.
Review the employee package
Personal development is hugely important, however there are other things to think about too. Holiday entitlement, bonuses, and flexible hours are a few of these things. So firstly, map out what you already offer to allow you to identify any gaps you may have and where you could improve. Although it may not make or break a job, it’s these small things that are often valued the most and helps build your positive company culture. Make sure you’re constantly benchmarking pay to ensure you’re staying competitive and fair.
Check the accessibility
What would the point be of all these if only a small group of your employees got to benefit from them? You will need to ensure that they are accessible for all. Compare it to Christmas presents, one person may appreciate a new item of makeup, whilst another may prefer a bottle of whiskey. It’s the same when it comes to aspects of culture, different people favour different things. It is also about making sure that new joiners feel part of the team from the get go. A sense of belonging and inclusion should be the goal of businesses of all sizes as it allows employees to feel comfortable and, in turn, perform better and increase engagement.
Company culture isn’t just the star on the top of the tree, it’s the trunk that holds the whole tree together. It’s the invisible maker or breaker for businesses – so treat it with respect.