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4 Fundamentals for Building a Better Workplace Culture

What is corporate culture?

A company’s culture refers to the set of shared procedures and behaviors that are expected within that company. Culture can be created and shaped by individuals or groups within the organization, and it can also be influenced by the environment in which it operates. Culture is sensitive to incentives and motivations, so one company might be more risk-tasking while another might be more data-driven, for example, depending on what executives and workers find more rewarding. But because culture is often difficult to define, it can be hard to maintain consistent messages about it, to hire appropriately for it, or to know what policies or procedures to enact to maintain it.

Why does culture matter?

While a company’s “culture” is often intangible, it can have specific, measurable impacts on the organization. For instance, workers who rate their employer’s culture as “poor” are 24% more likely to quit within the next year. For reasons like that, most people see culture as a critical element of any company’s success.

They also see it as a major challenge. According to the Leathwaite 2021 Global HR survey results, HR leaders view “erosion of culture” as the second most significant organizational risk (after lack of collaboration and innovation). Indeed, the pandemic and its ensuing work-from-home protocols made it harder for many companies to maintain a cohesive culture. Given its impact on employee engagement and retention, when culture falters, so does performance.

How can employers cultivate and keep the culture they want?

1: Ensure fit. Assessing cultural fit should be an inherent part of any hiring process. It starts with the interview. The Society for Human Resource Management recommends that hiring managers “ask questions that elicit comments about organizational values such as honesty or integrity.” Further, ask candidates to describe the worst and best places they have worked. Which sounds like it had a culture closer to yours?

2: Model appropriate behavior. Establishing and cultivating appropriate corporate culture must start at the top and from within the organization. Outside consultants can help guide the process of correcting cultural problems, but at the end of the day, organizational leaders and influencers within the company must model the kinds of behaviors, values, and principles the company wants to embody in its culture.

3: Curate examples of success. The Harvard Business Review suggests that organizational and HR leaders should “curate and communicate examples of how the organization is adhering to its cultural values through new practices.” In other words, in additional to modeling desired practices, the company should also highlight and showcase success stories from within the workplace that demonstrate the culture you want.

4: Incentivize. Reward the behaviors you want to see through reward and recognition programs as well as performance management efforts that align with culture. If they engage in the practices you want to see, that should be recognized. If they don’t, that should be addressed, all as part of normal performance management processes.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.