In 2019, a study by Glassdoor found that employee culture was considered by 77% of surveyed job seekers before their decision to even apply to a company. The importance of employee culture continues to grow the longer an employee is with a certain organisation and contributes significantly to overall employee satisfaction, making its careful consideration pertinent to all employers.

Employee culture refers to the many aspects of a company that contribute to its working environment – typically speaking, this includes the policies, regulations and attitudes that govern the relationship of employers and employees towards the organisation, customers and each other.

Having a strong and supportive employee culture embedded within your workplace benefits everyone involved in many ways, including improved productivity, better work performance, lower turnover rates and the ability to weather difficult periods more successfully.

However, a well-founded employee culture requires an active effort on the employer’s part to build and establish. As a leader in the workplace, they must try varying approaches and ideas to identify what works best for their employees and their workplace, as this is subject to change and no one approach can be applied universally. 

Tips for improving employee culture

Whilst there isn’t one answer to improving employee culture, the following tips are a helpful starting point and will be an imporant guide in accomplishing such a goal:

1. A shared purpose

One of the most effective methods of improving employee culture is through establishing a common purpose and a shared sense of journey with your employees.

The absence of a shared sense of purpose makes it difficult for employees to truly connect with the company’s vision and aims, which can actually deter individuals from applying to the company. In fact, research has found that the upcoming generation of workers is more likely to stay loyal to organisations whose purpose is one they connect to and identify with.

Defining this purpose itself is, by extension, equally important. In order to connect to employees, it must relate to measures beyond profit and towards social purpose and employee value proposition. The purpose should clearly identify the organisation and set it apart from its competition in terms of how it serves not only its customers but also its employees and the community at large.

Another strategy to help establish a common goal is to ensure that employees understand how their work is valued and its importance within the organisation’s working ambitions. Reminding employees of how their work is being utilised and the wider projects and aims it contributes to will allow them to witness their role in the company’s bigger goals.

Bridging this gap will help shape an employee culture that recognised the part that every employee plays together as a single team towards a common purpose.

2. Recognise your employees

One of the most important contributing factors toward employee engagement is feeling recognised for one’s efforts within the team.

Whilst monetary rewards can be helpful in this regard, making sure your employees have their efforts recognised doesn’t necessarily require huge amounts of money, or even any at all.

In fact, employers can do this by simply acknowledging employees by verbalising their appreciation at meetings, wishing them well on birthdays and anniversaries and having regular one-on-one catch-ups. 

Research has shown that  78% of employees cite high engagement when they feel their workplaces recognise them creating an avenue through which employee culture can be effectively improved.

Furthermore, showing active recognition and appreciation towards your employees has additional benefits. It works to encourage improved work performance from employees and increases overall productivity and creativity within the team.

It’s a very important aspect of employee culture, and without it, employees can feel undervalued and unappreciated and potentially seek work elsewhere. 

3. Transparency in internal communications

Communication is undoubtedly central to the efficiency of any organisation and its team dynamics, giving it great influence on the overall employee culture within the workplace.

When it comes to communication, often the method is more important than the actual content and having transparent communication ultimately drives employee morale, performance and workplace engagement.

For trust to exist between company and employee, transparency is a necessity for all employers it’s implementation yields many benefits that contribute to improved employee culture.

From better collaboration to increased loyalty, employees recognise and appreciate transparency from employers, and this creates a workplace environment where there is a sense of togetherness.

To improve transparency, one possible method would be to have avenues through which honest feedback can be provided, allowing the team to discuss potential improvements, challenges and conflicts in a safe and secure environment.

Additionally, being open to complaints and whistleblowers allows for organisational weaknesses to be identified and included in discussions for potential change in a way that is mutually beneficial to the company and it’s employees.

4. Flexible working arrangements

Flexibility in employment is a very sought-after feature that employees look out for when seeking jobs. Employers need to recognise that each employee they have has their own methods of accomplishing tasks, their personal schedules and their own pace.

Whilst it’s important to be on a common timeline, having flexibility in the way that employees complete their assigned work is not only valued by workers but can actually increase the amount and quality of work they get done.

How flexible you are and what type of flexibility your employees will benefit most from depends on your company’s specific work processes, but generally speaking, allowing for greater flexibility in work hours or career opportunities tends to be a great starting point.

From there, each employee may need specific adjustments made and ensuring that you listen to their suggestions and genuinely attempt to reach a satisfactory agreement will allow them to create work routines tailored to their needs.

In turn, this will generate greater employee satisfaction and quality work, contributing positively to employee culture.

5. Support career progression

As employers, it’s important not to forget the individual aims and goals of each employee within their team. In doing so, you will be able to provide them with meaningful opportunities to continue growing and developing before they look for those same opportunities elsewhere.

In fact, lack of career prospects is one of the primary reasons why otherwise loyal employees tend to leave companies, and this is something that employers should actively seek to prevent.

Employees should be given opportunities to discuss their career aims and plans with the company so that a transparent discussion about what the current workplace can offer can occur. This way, the employee knows what to expect and what Opportunites are available to them if they stay on their current or nay alternative paths within the company. This can include promotions, openings in different teams for skill expansion and training opportunities to continue learning development.

Actively seeking to accommodate your employee’s goals not only keeps them more satisfied with their growth and improves employee culture but also allows you to retain talent within your organisation.

6. Create organisational harmony

A major issue when it comes to overall employee culture is many workers only interact with those within their team and are only aware of the company’s ventures in one specific area. For larger organisations, this can create dissonance and prevent a sense of collectiveness.

Having events and meetings that encourage cross-departmental teamwork and interaction will help to build up an employee’s connections, foster better working relationships, improve communication between teams and result in a more engaged workforce.

7. Encourage taking breaks

Data shows that 58% of all employees report feeling burned out and fatigued at work. Whilst this is not always preventable all the time, depending on the timeline of any projects you may be working on and any external factor that may cause pressure, having tired employees is not conducive to quality work output and innovation. 

Encouraging employees to schedule breaks throughout their day to relax and recoup their energy is important in decreasing employee morale and, in turn, negatively shaping workplace culture.

Breaks can be individual or team-based, but all managers should be instructed to make sure that their workers are getting some rest time throughout the day to create an employee culture that is sustainable in the long term.

As stated earlier, there isn’t one method or technique to get your employee culture to be where is best for your company and workers. As an employer, you should always be seeking ways to increase your employee’s overall morale, job satisfaction and performance.

By focusing on creating a shared purpose, recognising efforts, supporting career progression, and being flexible and transparent, the overall working environment will begin to thrive. Ultimately, making employee culture will need to be a consistent priority for employers to enable its establishment within the workplace and allow the organisation to reap the long-term benefits.