Top 3 Ways to Ensure a Positive Work Culture

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“I love my job.” It’s something everyone wishes they could say, yet many truthfully cannot.

What does it take to get someone there? Great compensation certainly helps, but money can’t (entirely) buy that love.

A Deloitte survey of 1,000 American workers and 300 executives found that of those who felt their company had a distinct work culture, 84% said they were happy at work and 86% felt valued by their company. A positive work culture fuels a happy, productive staff and vice versa.

Job candidates today want to work in places with a great culture and have the means to find them. There is no shortage of websites that provide a platform for employees to share insights on what it’s really like behind closed doors. If the staff is miserable, word will get out.

A positive work culture is essential to attracting and retaining the best talent, and ultimately maintaining a viable business. Here are a handful of actions your company can take to build a thriving office culture:

Inspire

Each year, Indeed.com analyzes all of its job reviews for Fortune 500 companies and tabulates a ranking of the best places to work. It’s no coincidence that the top 10 consists of many of the same companies every time.

When you skim the summaries of places like Facebook, Apple, Google, Disney, and Nike, you’ll find a common thread–all have a top-down commitment to being the absolute best in their space. Their work cultures revolve around innovation and excellence, and employees who enjoy being innovative and excellent.

This should be the goal of any business, large or small. If you run a local carpet installation business, you want a staff that aims to be the best in your field. The crew should take pride in being told what a difference they’ve made; you can encourage them to take before/after shots of every job to remind them of their impact. They should also care if they get called back to a job site to fix a section that turned out shabby.

INTO ACTION: If your company doesn’t have a mission statement, take the time to write one that articulates a positive vision for your work. Keep it simple and make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them.

Understand

Another interesting finding in the Deloitte study was a gap in perception between executives and employees when it comes to work culture. On many counts, leadership held the belief that things were going great when the rank-and-file had a less rosy view of their daily experience.

It’s a common symptom of what ails the hierarchical corporate chain-of-command. Ordinary workers are discouraged-and sometimes even prohibited-from approaching top brass, so they only know what they’re told by their department heads.

When Deloitte asked whether senior leadership regularly communicates the company’s core values and beliefs, the executives were 16% more inclined to say yes than their employees. In addition, 65% of executives felt leadership regularly speaks about the company’s culture, vs. 51% of employees; 12% more executives than employees were inclined to say they could clearly explain their company’s culture to others.

It’s a classic case of disconnect between the C-suite and the cubicles. A great work culture depends on finding ways to break down the barriers between upper management and staff. You’ll never understand each other if you never talk to each other.

INTO ACTION: Senior leadership can cut out the middle managers and open the lines of communication directly to staff by holding monthly coffee chats. Rotate the departments each time so the managers can meet more people and get a broader lay of the land.

Respect

Again, while nothing quite says “I love you” like a substantial raise, there are other ways to foster a company culture that values its employees. You can celebrate individuals’ successes as a team. You can offer a path for advancement for those who are making the company better.

Perhaps most of all, you can lay down an unbreakable demand that everyone treat their co-workers with respect and help to inspire a speak up culture (our real-time employee engagement app can help!). No tolerance exists for those who would bully or harass co-workers who they view as different or lesser than themselves. In the era of #MeToo, that kind of toxicity prompts the death of a company’s positive office culture and places it on the path to financial peril.

If you want your workers to love their job, make this part easy for them. Take steps every day to inspire, understand, and respect them.

INTO ACTION: Feature an employee each week or month using the company’s social media, intranet, or other communications platforms. Consider a fun format, like a written or video Q&A, that gives readers a sense of the subjects’ work and who they are as people.

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