How to Build a Company Culture in 7 Steps

Three happy employees in a hardware store talking

In any organisation, a positive work culture is critical for success. Regardless of how your company is structured, or which industry you operate in, it's necessary in today's world to align yourself with a set of values that are reflected in the workplace.

Indeed, as many companies have shown, a positive corporate culture can enable productivity, attract better candidates, and increase morale and retention. Much like your vision statement, your culture is an affirmation of what makes your business unique.

But how do you go about creating one? To help identify what needs to be put in place, we've compiled a quick guide on how to build a company culture – starting with your employees.

1. Hire Employees That Reflect Your Vision

Once you have decided what kind of culture and atmosphere you would like to foster within your organisation, you need to make yourself hyperaware of whether or not your new hires reflect these notions. By developing an HR strategy that makes your culture and values perfectly clear throughout the entire onboarding process – from job postings, to interviewing, to the first day of work – you are more likely to draw in individuals who are better aligned with your key principles. 

2. Treat Your Employees with Respect

It will come as no surprise to learn that employee morale is important. Indeed, treating your workers with respect decreases turnover rates, and increases motivation, productivity, and loyalty to the company and its leaders. In itself, this is a vital component of a positive culture.

There are numerous ways it can manifest, too. It could be something as simple as providing free lunch to your staff, to more thoughtful methods, such as after-hours wellness groups, third-party discounts, and medical benefits that include coverage for mental health professionals.

3. Don't Forget to Set Goals

A significant factor of what will set your company apart from your competition are the goals that you set for its future. Indeed, it can even be argued that a business cannot have a real sense of company culture without them, as it provides a clear target and motivates employees towards a greater cause.

By ensuring that everyone within the organisation is on the same page – especially in regards to company goals and values – this cements your culture. It creates a wider sense of harmony in the workplace, even if teams are spread across different departments, and fosters the development of a positive work culture.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

A positive work culture means that there are always open lines of communication – both in regards to proprietors speaking to workers, and for employees reaching out to leaders. Not only is communication crucial to mitigating any conflict that may arise within the company, but it is also a necessary step when creating a positive culture in the workplace.

Speak openly about how you and your employees can draw meaning and purpose from one another, how this can be continually fostered amongst yourselves, and how you can work together to reach the company's goals as a team. The clearer you are with those who work for you, the more effectively they will be able to work toward those objectives and contribute to the positive work culture. 

5. Be Sure to Listen

As alluded to, communication works both ways; therefore, in order to be clear about what you expect from your employees, it is also necessary to listen to their thoughts and opinions. As the individuals who are often on the front lines of the business – interacting with customers and clients, manufacturing the products being sold and distributed, and witnessing first-hand the preferences of those who are purchasing the goods – they will know a great deal about what can be done to uphold or even improve sales. Of course, there may also be issues arising within the workforce itself – things that may otherwise go unnoticed if you were to ignore their concerns. 

As a result, being receptive to your employees' thoughts and apprehensions are an important consideration in the functioning of your business. In acknowledging the suggestions of your workers, you are also showing them that you trust their opinions and that you view them as an essential part of the company. 

6. Focus on the Positive

In order to establish a positive work culture, you have to be just that: positive. Being a consistent and uplifting presence within the company is a great way to divert focus from any negative factors that may bring employees down, such as a bad customer experience, a discouraging afternoon of sales, or even a gloomy day outside of your shop's window. After all, as a leader, you want to refrain from dwelling on adverse circumstances; this will not only bring down the mood of your workers, but will also leave them feeling as if these negative situations are to be expected. Switching to a friendlier and upbeat outlook keeps employees happier, more motivated, and more willing to work.

7. Reflect the Positive Work Culture That You Are Determined to Create

Whatever your leadership style or approach, there are always ways that you can reflect the positive work culture that you are creating. 

If you want to build a fast-paced, dynamic culture, then you should be the first person in every day, and the last person to leave. Alternatively, if you want to cultivate a more relaxed atmosphere that encourages creativity, then start coming to the office in your shorts and flip-flops.

Of course, it all depends on what exactly your vision is, but the key point is simple: if you want others to adopt your changes, then you need to adopt them yourself.

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Unfortunately, there is no magic wand you can wave to create the company culture you want – especially overnight. Corporate cultures are forged slowly over time, and are defined through actions rather than words. By following these seven simple steps over time, though, you will be on the right track.

What other key steps are involved in the creation of a company culture? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.