Company Culture 101: Five Questions to Ask Yourself

These days, most people understand why it’s important for a company to have engaged employees. But where it gets much trickier is the how – how do you make sure your employees are engaged?

There are many elements that impact employee engagement, but most of them can be wrapped up into two words: company culture. Employee engagement and company culture go hand-in-hand; a positive culture drives engagement, while a negative one can destroy it.

Employee engagement and company culture go hand-in-hand; a positive culture drives engagement, while a negative one can destroy it.Click To Tweet

Your company’s culture is defined by the beliefs, behaviors and experiences that characterize the way you work. Beliefs (or values) are what you believe in as a company, and they should drive your daily behaviors. Everything from how information is shared with employees, to how people interact with each other, to how the company shows appreciation, exemplifies your company’s culture.

Now, you may be asking yourself, does my company even have a “culture?” The answer is yes, every company has a culture. The real question is, is it the type of culture that you want to have? Is it the kind that keeps employees engaged and helps drive business success?

If the answer is no, your next question may be: then what goes into creating a good company culture? Well, simply put, a LOT. So, let’s start with the basics: here are five questions you should ask yourself when thinking about your company’s culture.

  1. Does your company have a clearly articulated purpose or mission? And, most importantly, do your employees know what that purpose is and the role they play in bringing it to life? Making sure employees understand the company’s purpose, and how what they do every day supports that purpose, is critical to engagement.
  1. Does your company have a set of beliefs/values? This is the foundation of your culture. If you don’t have beliefs/values, it’s time to define them – and input from employees will be critical to that process. If you do have a set of beliefs/values, do employees know what they are and how to execute on them (i.e. the expected behaviors)? If not, it’s time to take a look at them to make sure they still resonate, align with your brand, and are incorporated into everything you do – from recruiting and onboarding to internal communications and more.
  1. Are your leaders walking the talk? Leadership support is critical to having a positive company culture. If leaders aren’t modeling the behaviors that are going to bring your desired culture to life, then employees aren’t going to, either. Leaders must lead by example, because every employee – from the CEO to an individual contributor – impacts the company culture through their daily behaviors. 
  1. Do you have good people managers in place? Everyone has heard the saying, “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” An employee’s relationship with their manager is one of the most important factors in engagement. From regular check-ins to career planning to employee appreciation, there are many things managers can and should be doing to help enforce a positive culture that drives engagement and retains employees. 
  1. How are you measuring employee engagement? You can’t know if you’re creating the best possible culture – and therefore keeping your employees engaged – if you don’t put measurement processes in place. And no, the annual employee satisfaction survey doesn’t cut it. Consider also implementing pulse surveys, regular manager-employee check-ins, monthly Town Hall meetings, and other formal and informal ways to get a temperature check more often than once a year.

Changing or enhancing your company’s culture isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But having a positive culture is vital to keeping your employees engaged and, ultimately, retained.

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