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5 Ways to Improve Your Company Culture in 2024

Published 6 months ago • 4 min read

5 Ways to Improve Your Company Culture in 2024

With 2024 right around the corner, now is a great time for organizations to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. While there are certainly business needs to attend to, it’s also important that companies think about how to improve their employee experience — including their culture.

Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and practices that characterize an organization. It encompasses the way employees interact with each other, their understanding of the company's mission and vision, and the behaviors and norms that shape the work environment. Company culture is often considered the "personality" of an organization and influences how employees perceive their work, approach their tasks, and collaborate with colleagues.

A strong and positive company culture is often associated with increased employee satisfaction, higher productivity, better retention rates, and improved overall performance. It plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining talent, shaping the organization's reputation, and influencing its long-term success. Company culture is not static and can evolve over time, influenced by leadership changes, shifts in the industry, and other external factors.

Unfortunately, 2023 was marked by a growing number of discussions around “toxic” workplaces, which in essence are workplaces with a poor culture. Articles from Forbes, the American Psychological Association, Harvard Business Review, and other sources offered up insights around this trend, as well as signs to look for — from unethical leadership and psychologically unsafe environments, to abusive and unfair treatment of employees.

Some believe these issues are partly an outcome of the shift to hybrid work. Others think these problems have always existed, and they’re simply getting more attention and recognition now. Regardless of the reason behind the growing interest in this topic, leaders should be paying attention, since new research from isolved reveals that 1 out of 4 employees feel they work in a toxic environment.

In today’s article I’ll describe 5 ways leaders can improve their company culture and make progress toward eliminating toxic working conditions — let’s take a look.

1. Start with a culture assessment

A company culture assessment is an evaluation of the values, beliefs, behaviors, and practices that define the organizational culture within a company. The goal is to gain a deep understanding of the current state of the culture, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to foster a positive and healthy work environment.

This process often involves gathering data through various methods to assess both the explicit and implicit aspects of the organizational culture. Key components of a company culture assessment may include gathering employee feedback, conducting interviews and focus groups, having an outside consultant conduct an audit, or reviewing policies and practices.

A well-executed culture assessment provides valuable insights that can guide leadership in making informed decisions to strengthen and shape the desired culture. It is an ongoing process that may need to be repeated periodically to track progress and adapt to changing organizational needs.

2. Focus on addressing employee burnout

According to isolved, the top threats to company culture are overworked and stressed employees. Their latest study found that nearly two-thirds of workers (65%) have suffered from burnout this past year.

Employees say they’d like their employer to address burnout in several ways. For example, many would like a more flexible work environment (52%), access to resources on how to minimize burnout (43%), and the implementation of policies about responding to work emails after-hours (40%).

However, addressing your organization’s culture around work-life balance might be the most important step you can take. Leaders and managers need to model healthy behaviors by not working long hours themselves. Companies should avoid creating a performance system that rewards people who sacrifice their well-being for their job. And of course, businesses need to ensure they are well-staffed, so people can be assigned a reasonable workload.

3. Fix poor leadership behaviors

Whether or not they recognize this, some leaders exhibit qualities that can lead to a toxic work environment and negatively impact company culture. These include poor communication, a lack of accountability, and resistance to change. Leaders also might be creating an atmosphere where unhealthy competition and unethical behaviors are permitted or encouraged.

Addressing poor leadership and cultivating effective leadership practices is essential for fostering a positive and healthy organizational culture. However, it requires a commitment to self-awareness, continuous improvement, and a willingness to listen and respond to the needs of employees.

Companies should start by encouraging leaders to participate in ongoing development and training programs. It’s also critical that leaders receive feedback from their employees on a regular basis, whether through surveys, town halls, or other outlets. Bringing in an outside source (e.g., a consultant or coach) can also help leaders identify blind spots.

4. Eliminate negative behaviors and attitudes

However, it’s not just leaders that can contribute to a poor company culture — employees often play a role as well. In fact, isolved’s research uncovered that negative attitudes are one of the top 5 threats to a positive company culture.

In the workplace, this might manifest as office gossip and rumors, discriminatory behaviors, a lack of inclusivity, or even bullying or harassment. The result is that workers are less likely to support each other and collaborate with one another, and they’re also more likely to struggle with their mental health and feel stressed and unhappy at work.

To address these issues, it's crucial for companies to foster a positive work culture, encourage open communication, and provide support for employee well-being. This includes addressing and resolving conflicts promptly and promoting a culture of respect, inclusivity, and appreciation.

5. Show your employees that they’re valued

Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work is one of the most important ways companies can improve their culture. As a first step, employers need to ensure that they’re paying their team members fairly. According to isolved’s research, HR leaders admit that one of the top ways they could boost culture is by paying their employees market value.

Beyond offering better pay — which 64% of employees believe they deserve — organizations also need to focus on creating a culture of recognition. This is especially critical given that over the past year, just 24% of workers say their employer focused more on showing employees they are valued.

The top ways employees would like companies to demonstrate their appreciation include offering them a monetary bonus (74%), perks like company swag or small gifts (41%), growth opportunities (40%), public praise (28%), and recognition in an email/thank you note (25%).

A new chapter for a new year

Heading into 2024, employees in toxic workplaces might be contemplating a career change as they plan for a better year ahead. Organizations who want to retain their talent should consider addressing some of the issues that can contribute to unpleasant working conditions, for example persistent burnout among their staff, poor leadership behaviors, negative attitudes, and a lack of recognition and fair pay. While this is no small task, remember — small steps are the best way to tackle big changes.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

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