Company culture is one of the most vital aspects of any organization. It's the social operating system that determines how your employees interact with one another, as well as your clients and the greater community. It also has the capacity to either help a company thrive or cause it to suffer.
So, what happens when a company has a noticeably negative company culture? In this article, we discuss if organizations are able to change these poor habits, as well as how can they adapt a more positive culture that allows the business and its workers to flourish.
Can You Change a Company’s Negative Culture?
Many may think a company’s culture—whether negative or positive—is deeply ingrained within it. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A company’s culture is made up of the common values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and actions of those who work there. It's about how people feel about their jobs, the values they hold dear, where they see the company headed, and what they're doing to get there.
Good company culture doesn’t happen by itself, but rather, it takes some planning and effort. While it won’t happen overnight, it is possible for a company to redirect its negative culture into a positive one.
Strategies to Create a More Positive Work Culture
Here are six simple, yet powerful, practices you can implement to improve workplace culture.
1. Focus on Employee Experiences
The employee experience is at the heart of a workplace’s culture, as both are intrinsically linked. In other words, your company’s culture not only affects the employee experience, but the employee experience also affects its culture.
The employee experience is comprised of all interactions your employees have with your company. Negative experiences might include:
Demeaning statements from a leader
Lack of connection in a team
Being unable to acquire vital resources for a project
Positive employee experiences, on the other hand, can include:
Providing a forum for workers to exchange ideas, express issues, and offer suggestions
Encouraging frequent team activities and discussions that they can look forward to
Sending leader communications that express excitement, gratitude, and support
The key is to try to reduce the likelihood of negative employee experiences occurring, while working to increase the positive experiences available to them. Nearly 70 percent of employees who feel valued and appreciated say that they work harder as a result.
2. Use Your Office Layout to Meet Individual Employee Needs
While the management practices within an organization play a big role in company culture, so too does an office’s design. Business owners often overlook this as a strategy, but the way a workplace is laid out can certainly contribute to the moods and behaviors of employees—whether positively or negatively.
The key to creating a workplace that meets individual employee needs is to implement separate zones that serve a variety of different purposes.
Is there a quiet and private location where an employee can make an important phone call to a client, for example? Employees should also have a relaxed and social atmosphere, such as a lounge area, for informal gatherings or brainstorming sessions. Is there a quiet zone where they can go away from the hustle and bustle of the main office area to do concentration-heavy work? Any zone like this that increases employee output, motivation, focus, and well-being is a must-have.
3. Simplify Processes and Procedures
Another aspect that can contribute negatively to culture is outdated or complicated work processes and procedures. In our digital era, organizations have an unlimited number of apps, software, systems, and devices at their disposal.
Look at key metrics and data to discover areas that need improving within your organization. Additionally, be sure to sit down with employees and ask for their honest feedback regarding tasks or techniques which are holding them back in their day-to-day roles.
4. Encourage Transparency and Open Communication
Speaking of feedback, it’s also crucial to foster transparency and open communication within the workplace. Doing so encourages a more positive workplace culture, as workers have the mutual respect to listen to each other’s opinions and feel that they’re on the same page.
Transparency is a communication approach that applies to the whole company—not just senior executives or decision-makers. When employees communicate more openly with one another, it builds greater trust throughout the organization. This openness encourages better participation, mentorship, and inspiration.
5. Allow Autonomy
The global pandemic has dramatically shifted workplace norms and encouraged a large percentage of companies to offer a combination of an in-office and at-home work style. Known as a hybrid working model, this increased autonomy is proving to be popular, with 51 percent of employers supporting it. In the same survey, 44 percent of employees reported that they prefer hybrid working arrangements, while 48 percent expressed a desire to work remotely full-time.
The popularity of a more autonomous working model shouldn’t be ignored by companies—especially those needing to shift their company culture. Even allowing employees to work from home just one day per week can increase work-life balance, while boosting productivity and satisfaction among employees.
6. Create a Welcoming Atmosphere with Biophilic Design
Biophilic design is a design concept that incorporates elements of Mother Nature, such as natural light and earthy materials, into indoor spaces. While biophilic design has been around for decades, it has particularly risen in popularity since the onset of the pandemic as organizations look for ways to create happier, healthier, and safer workplaces.
Numerous studies show that workers cannot flourish in a concrete jungle, and instead, companies should embrace the power of nature within their offices. Adding biophilic elements, such as living walls, can create a calmer and more welcoming office environment.
With their abundance of plant life, living walls can also improve indoor air quality by up to 85.8 percent, reduce indoor sounds by an average of 15 decibels, boost productivity and creativity by 15 percent, and improve employee wellbeing by 47 percent, all while being low-maintenance and easy to care for.
Build a Positive Company Culture from the Ground Up
Redirecting a negative company culture into a positive one isn't something that can be achieved overnight, yet the effort is certainly worth it. All it takes is commitment, cooperation, and the strategies mentioned above, and you too can transform your company culture into one that helps your business to thrive.