Strong organizational culture is an asset to be leveraged for the long haul. Companies with a strong organizational culture always have a compass for decision-making and internal alignment. Leaders and employees can easily answer, "What comes next?" for each choice they make. Creating and sustaining a strong company culture isn’t just the responsibility of the CEO or upper management, it’s an organization-wide effort.
Let’s take a look at the key elements involved in creating a strong corporate culture.
Vision and Values
The backbone of an organization’s culture is the organization’s vision and purpose and how these things will help it survive and compete in the market. Values describe the employee behaviours and mindset required to achieve the company vision. Together, the vision and values serve as guidelines for how employees are expected to lead, behave, and communicate.
Some of your company values may be aspirational, while others may already be a part of your culture. As you examine your culture, it will be helpful to routinely evaluate your vision and values statement, because it may need to be altered as the organization grows and times change. At all times, however, employees need to understand the vision and values, as well as the associated behaviours that are expected of them.
Every employee impacts an organization's direction, but leadership has by far the largest and most direct effect on company culture, which revolves around employee engagement, environment, atmosphere and the success of the company and its clients. Leadership cultivates the foundation of culture to empower employees to achieve the company mission and realize how vital each of their contributions is to furthering those goals.
Since communication is an important and key factor to a good and healthy corporate culture, every company must cultivate a positive and strong culture of communication in its internal processes to foster better understanding and bonding among individuals in the company at all levels.
A strong culture generally emphasizes open and effective communication above all else. Your organization ought to be a space in which people feel comfortable communicating ideas, thoughts, opinions, you name it. Fostering free-flowing, open communication is a must for any organization.
People in organizations often aren’t on the same page because, well, they’re working on different projects or using different skill sets. Sometimes they’re siloed in their processes and ways of thinking. What the Marketing team does every day might be a mystery to the IT team, and vice versa.
But for an organization with a unified sense of purpose, this doesn’t really matter. A strong culture is cohesive despite its differences because the people have a shared sense of purpose. They understand, and management makes it clear, not only how their work helps achieve the long-term goals of the company, but also why their work is meaningful.
Why? Because a shared sense of purpose and being able to locate your contributions within that purpose, shows people that they matter.
Your employees will feel more loyalty and motivation within a culture that represents a pleasant and nurturing environment. Employees need incentive, inspiration, and a work environment where they feel secure and comfortable.
However, wages and other monetary rewards are not always the strongest motivators. Your incentive plan needs to be customized to your workforce on a personal level. Recognize and reward exceptional performance and dedication.
When the team exceeds goals and earns notable successes, take the time to celebrate and express gratitude for their achievements. Give feedback on performance, provide additional training as needed and focus on making work an enjoyable experience. This will keep employees engaged and encourage them to meet higher standards.
Creating a strong culture takes years of hard work and guess what? it’s never over. Sustaining a strong culture requires constant scrutiny and analysis to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change.
There’s no formula for a perfect company culture. How your culture takes form will always be unique to your organization and its people. What matters to them may not be on this list (or any list for that matter) because the way we perceive our employee experience is vastly different from one person to the next. Keep these ten elements in mind and see how you can expand upon them to cover what’s important for your organization.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.