How to improve workplace culture in 5 actionable steps

Want to know how to improve your workplace culture? We outline the basics in 5 actionable steps. 

When it comes to job satisfaction employees consider company culture to be more important than salary, according to a study by Glassdoor

To attract and retain the best people for the job you need to build strategies to grow a positive workplace. Now that Covid-19 has caused you to reflect on what is really important, this is the perfect time to decide how you want your future to be.

What is workplace culture?

The phrase workplace culture may sound like a buzzword but all it means is what it is like to work for an organisation. 

An assessment of workplace culture looks at, for example, what the employees’ shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions are. Furthermore, it checks whether they practice what they preach in their everyday actions. 

A good workplace culture grows an environment of passion, collaboration, and innovation. 

Signs of toxic company culture, on the other hand, include:

  • Defensive employees who are protective of their projects and not open to new ideas or constructive criticism. 
  • A lack of transparency, honesty, and accountability. Employees don’t feel comfortable to own up to mistakes or ask for help when needed. 
  • Cliques, gossip, and workplace bullying. 

Why is company culture important 

The leadership and structure of an organisation can have a huge impact on the workplace environment.

Workplace culture strategy trickles down to every avenue of the business. For instance, morale, teamwork, productivity, efficiency, staff retention, job satisfaction, and business performance are all factors influenced by the company culture. 

5 steps to improve company culture

1. Audit your culture

audit your workplace culturePhoto by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Define your desired culture. Is your current workplace culture up to your desired benchmark?

How healthy is your workplace culture? Is your team as motivated, collaborative, and engaged as it could be?

To identify what improvements need to be made to your company culture you must assess the current state of things. 

In the thick of it, you might not be able to see the wood for the trees. Therefore, you may get more value out of this exercise by bringing in an expert pair of eyes to assess it. 

ACTION: Get a clear road map aligned with your business strategy to improve workplace culture. 


2. Specify clear values, ethos, and goals

company culture and values

Photo by Charlie Firth on Unsplash

You can’t know what you’re doing until you know why you’re doing it. Businesses whose staff don’t understand business goals show symptoms of dysfunctional workplace culture.

Specify demonstrable actions that employees can make day-to-day in the workplace. These actions should directly relate to your company values. 

A focus on hiring for cultural fit will also feed into your recruitment strategies as your business grows. Find out 3 steps to hiring for the company culture you want to create.

ACTION: Set measurable performance indicators that are linked to your organisation’s values. This will help employees feel personal responsibility and pride in upholding your company’s ethos.


3. Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Effective leaders foster an environment that makes collaboration easier. Open and honest communication channels, for instance, are a must. 

How well does your team communicate with one another? Do your team members feel threatened by feedback? These are the kind of questions you need to regularly ask yourself if you are managing a team. 

Encourage your staff to interact with different people in the business to nurture a more collaborative environment. 

ACTION: Foster open, respectful, and honest two-way communication channels between your employees. Identify the best ways to give and receive feedback


4. Empower and include all your employees

A positive workplace makes all employees feel valued, nurtured and supported whatever their gender, colour, or sexual orientation. Ensure all of your employees have access to equal opportunities to thrive in your workplace. 

Be inclusive by making individuals feel that their differences are valued. Strict zero-tolerance policies and comprehensive complaint procedures on workplace bullying are essential. 

ACTION: Listen to your employees’ grievances and suggestions for improvements. You can track your progress with 360-degree feedback surveys


5. Great leaders make leaders

great leaders make company culture good

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

If you are a business owner or manager consider what you can do to improve your staff’s business leadership skills

Workplaces with a good company culture actively encourage staff leadership training. Having a more accountable, innovative, and passionate team, for example, will build a more agile culture, reduce complainers and strengthen your business from the ground up. 

ACTION: Nurture your inner leader and grow other leaders in your business with leadership training workshops, for instance



Big or small, every organisation needs to regularly review its company culture and put strategies and processes in place to help their employees thrive. 

Without these strategies, business cultures start to operate less efficiently and less productively. Often it’s the customers who first notice the emerging cracks.


Feature image by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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About Susan Rochester

Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

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