How to create a positive company culture that helps you hire and retain top talent

| By:
Jen Locklear

Building a positive company culture has never been more important than it is today. A recent Forbes article even stated that 2022 the year of workplace culture. When companies are thinking about how to drive growth and attract customers, they tend to overlook their most important resource: their employees. In other words, your company is only as successful as the people who work in it, so creating a culture that supports your people is a smart, long-term move.   

A positive company culture can turn any business into a great place to work, which leads to happy workers who are more productive and innovative. The result? A vibrant workplace where everyone feels engaged, valued, and motivated and where employees want to stay for the long haul. 

Why company culture is more important today 

Proactively creating a company culture isn’t a new concept. However, the workplace keeps evolving, and the goals and desires of workers have changed. This shift has put more weight on the importance of updating work culture to include focus more on a few specific things. 

1. The battle for talent 

Letting culture “happen naturally” usually doesn’t produce great results or consider and accommodate everyone in an office. This can lead to low employee engagement and high turnover, which are both extremely damaging for your business is costs and morale 

The “work from anywhere” movement gave birth to the Great Resignation, also sometimes referred to as the Great Reshuffle, giving job seekers more options than previously available. As a result, candidates are more closely evaluating company culture during the interview process before making a decision. making a decision.  

2. The need for work-life balance 

 The term “work-life balance” took on even greater significance after the lines blurred with a global pandemic forcing a shift to work from home, and many employees don’t wish to return to in-office. According to the 2022 Everywhere Workplace Report, 71% of employees would rather work from anywhere than be promoted.  71% of employees would rather work from anywhere than be promoted.  

3. Culture is an important driver of business success 

When you think of the most successful companies in the world, one thing they have in common is a thoughtful company culture. Culture is what drives a great business. It's what makes employees feel like they can be themselves and do their best work every day. Ultimately, top-notch work attracts customers and keeps them coming back for more.  

If you want to grow fast, including attracting and retaining top talent, you need an environment that people are excited about coming into every day. You also need a culture where employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions—this will lead to higher engagement and performance. Companies with a positive work environment have been shown time and time again to outperform those with negative cultures. In fact, one study found that companies with strong cultures see 20% less turnover than their peers! 

Tips for improving workplace culture 

Here’s where a lot of companies go wrong. They think offering a lot of fun after-hours events where employees can socialize is enough. Let’s say, for example, you have an 8-hour workday and then invite your employees to a happy hour after 5:00pm. At its core, it seems like a fun idea, but what about the employees who have after-work responsibilities? What about those who don’t drink? What about pregnant employees? 

Work-life balance means accounting for your employees needing time for their children and significant others and respecting everyone’s individual health needs and lifestyle choices. It's fine to throw in the occasional after-hours event—but don't let that be the end-all be-all of your culture. Variety is the spice of life! 

One strategy is to integrate fun breaks or in-office events into the workday. This can show your employees that you value their physical and emotional wellbeing. Depending on the individual workplace, there are countless ways you can spark happiness in your company culture. Below are a few tips to keep in mind as you think about the company culture you want to create.

Company core values 

While there may be a lot of things that you want to do as a company, it's important to narrow down and define what you value most. Every employee should know the core values of your business, and they should be able to use them when making decisions. These core values should also be widely shared within your organization so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to how they're supposed to act at work. Core values can serve as the founding principles for your company culture.  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a set of values, beliefs and practices that create a positive, respectful, and inclusive workplace. The goal is to create a culture where workers feel they can be themselves and everyone feels welcome and included. It’s also important that inclusion efforts are flexible and adaptable to change. 

The benefits of diverse teams go beyond a happy, healthy work culture. Diverse teams are more creative, productive, and innovative than homogeneous teams. Collectively, they have better problem-solving skills and decision-making capabilities. Additionally, diversity in the workplace better reflects the population that you serve or sell to, ensuring you’re saying the right things to the right people in your sales efforts. 

Here are some things you can do to be more DEI focused: 

  • Set diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Without specific goals, you won’t know what to focus on and work toward. 
  • Set up a DEI team to oversee these goals. Having a dedicated group of employees who keep track of the progress is key in making sure all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion are properly addressed. This team should include leaders from across different departments with different perspectives. For example, someone in finance could compare your demographics numbers with industry averages; someone in HR could ensure that policies are inclusive; someone in research could evaluate customer satisfaction levels based on demographic factors like race or gender identity (more on this later). 
  • Create an internal communication plan so your whole business is aware of your DEI objectives and how to contribute toward the success of your DEI program. 
  • Measure the success rate regularly against clear criteria established upfront, so it’s clear what progress you’re making and what gaps needs to be filled.   

Leadership buy-in on cultural transformation 

When you're trying to change the culture of your organization, it is essential that leaders at every level are on board. It's not enough for leadership to buy in intellectually, they need to buy in behaviorally and psychologically to encourage global change.  

Behaviorally, leadership needs to be willing to demonstrate the new culture. Psychologically they need to believe in the importance of making a change and understand how their actions will contribute to or detract from the end goal. If employees sense that upper management is simply paying lip service to the new culture, they will feel unsupported and unvalued, and they may reject new ways of doing things. 

Flexibility, wellness, and balance creates better employees 

If you give employees freedom to express themselves, navigate anxiety about personal responsibilities, and forge relationships in the workplace, your employees will likely show: 

  • Reduced stress and anxiety levels. Personal and professional lives aren’t mutually exclusive. Your employees are much more likely to be more relaxed and focused while at work if they don’t have to worry about not having enough time to go to the doctor or the dentist or pick up their kids from day care. 
  • An increased trust in your company. When employees have the flexibility to integrate their personal and professional lives, it heightens their sense of trust and confidence in their employer. 
  • Higher loyalty and longer tenure. Why would you leave a job that makes you happy? When employees enjoy being at work, they won’t want to leave. This means a reduced turnover rate of quality team members. 
  • Increased, meaningful engagement: When creativity and productiveness are rewarded, employees are much more likely to engage in meaningful conversations and initiatives within the company. 

In all, it’s clear that a positive and welcoming work environment creates happier, healthier, and more productive employees. After all, happy employees do better work and stay at your business longer. The historical knowledge of long-term employees alone is worth in weight in gold, but there are proven bottom-line benefits of retaining top talent and building customer satisfaction and loyalty.