Building a great culture in your workplace is a worthwhile endeavor. Sometimes, the hardest part of building the culture up is keeping tabs on how well you are doing. Today, the team of company culture gurus here at Corporate Essentials has put together this list of 50 things you can look at to determine whether your corporate culture comfortably resides in Boomtown or is heading for Bustville.
1. Your company never has to search for talent
The people who work in your human resources teams are a great barometer for how healthy your workplace culture is at any given time. They know how many people are leaving the company, what made them leave and, most importantly, they can tell you how hard those empty chairs are to fill. A sign of a healthy office culture is a staffing department that does not have to head hunt.
2. People want to join your team
In a similar vein, having highly skilled workers queuing up to join specific teams at your firm is a good sign that your company culture is thriving. Internal transfer candidates consistently asking to join particular teams can be an indicator of in-house culture hotspots – teams others should take note of and use as a model for their communication and other behaviors.
3. Employees feel taken care of
More than just having a great list of benefits on the website, a solid workplace culture has a raft of employees who truly feel that the company cares. In-house massages, well-stocked break rooms, free office coffee and other gestures that save time and money for teams exemplify that notion.
4. Strong communication
One of the most vital building blocks for a good office culture is robust communication. This means that managers and staff have a free and open exchange of ideas and that everyone feels included in “the loop” of important information that flows around the office.
5. People are not afraid to speak their minds
If you work in a company where everyone guards their thoughts, bites their tongue or otherwise stifles their communication, odds are your workplace culture is lacking in some serious ways. Good cultures can absorb off-the-wall ideas, constructive criticism and even the occasional outburst without shriveling – because robust communication is the food great office cultures crave.
6. Office conflicts are rare
Some accept conflict in the office as part of the nature of doing business. Those who work for companies with great cultures understand that conflicts should be minimal, and easy to resolve or avoid altogether through increased collaboration and good communicating.
7. There is a strong sense of respect among coworkers
One of the great things about the increasingly popular “flat” management structure is that it empowers employees at all levels with a feeling of being respected. This in turn fosters a higher level of respect for those in positions of authority throughout the firm. Great workplace cultures require collaboration, and collaborative thinking is much easier when everyone is sitting at the table together on the understanding that each person makes a valued contribution to the project.
8. Friendships are made
According to the American Time Use Study for 2014, the average employed person spends 8.1 hours each day at work – and just 1.8 hours on leisure activities. Working is obviously an important part of our day, but it should not obscure our humanity. A great workplace culture encourages employees to get to know one another, strike up conversations and even develop friendships.
9. Employees are eager to help
Motivated people get more done, and are often more willing to take on extra projects or pitch in to help another team meet a deadline. Great workplace cultures encourage this sort of collaborative working by providing opportunities for people to help and acknowledging them for their efforts.
10. There is camaraderie among employees of all levels
The notion that “we’re all in this together” is an important one for companies looking to bolster their office culture. Being above pitching in to help, being perpetually too busy to interact with staff you supervise and continually turning down invitations to join after-hours activities sends a message that is definitely not inclusive or welcoming. Great managerial cultures eschew this divide between “us” and “them” and instead build on the foundation of “we”.
11. Employees fit in with the office dynamic
As much as we talk about embracing everyone and having open communication between people at all levels, it is equally important to choose the right people for your business. Different businesses attract different personality types – and so do the teams that make up those firms. Your recruiters should look carefully at the “type” of people your company needs and wants in order to establish strong teams and a thriving culture.
12. The office is full of creative minds
Creativity is often the lifeblood of a company – even if the firm is packed full of people you might not initially consider creative. Allowing space for new ideas, encouraging people to find their own path to solutions and praising successful innovations at all levels are great ways to foster a vibrant workplace culture through creativity.
13. Employees feel challenged
Challenge can be the fuel for creativity, motivation and success. When employees are bored, their quality of work can suffer and motivation can stagnate. A little challenge, whether it’s something as simple as learning a new skill or something broader like joining a new project team, can provide the needed gear shift to keep people motivated.
14. There is an ease of work-life balance
Respecting employees as whole people, rather than just tools necessary to accomplish tasks, makes a workplace feel more flexible and welcoming. Allowing people the time they need for family obligations, personal development and hobbies enables them to relax about “proving” their loyalty and instead more naturally provide the skills and expertise that brought them to your firm.
15. Employees are appreciated
There are plenty of ways you can show your appreciation to employees. A break room boasting the best office coffee and snacks available is a good place to start – after all, saving someone time and money is a great place to start when you are looking to create a desirable workplace.
16. People continually show they care
By the same token, a workplace culture where people feel appreciated is more likely to have employees who go to bat for one another, pitch in to help with special projects and generally provide support to whomever within the firm needs it. Whether that means stapling papers for a meeting or helping out with a brainstorming session.
17. Great healthcare benefits
Whenever people fall on hard times, a phrase that springs to mind is: “At least I have my health.” Being ill, or having a dependent who is unwell can be extremely stressful; and knowing your insurance has you covered can provide a tremendous sense of relief. People will change employers to get better healthcare benefits, so providing people excellent health plans is definitely a good way to show them that you are invested in their wellbeing.
18. The company provides training and resources
Providing challenges to employees is one thing, but doing so without giving them a chance to develop the skills necessary to rise to those challenges will cut your effort off at the knees. Invest in ongoing staff training not just for skills the employees need, but also for personal goals, workplace culture development and team bonding.
19. Productive feedback is offered
Criticism is a double-edged sword for people trying to build morale and keep a positive atmosphere in the workplace. People need to know what you think about their proposals, reports and work, but they do not need to be browbeaten with your feedback and micromanaged. Take a constructive approach to criticism and offer feedback that provides insight and solutions.
20. Workers give credit where credit is due
Having managers who can share credit for projects is a great basis for establishing fairness and a “flat” structure. Ultimately, this fosters an equitable workplace culture where team members gladly give credit for good ideas to whomever came up with them.
21. The company offers opportunities for growth
Even impulsive people like to know they have a future. Providing an internal career track for employees instills a clear sense of value in their presence at your firm. Those who feel valued are more likely to contribute to a good workplace culture for many years to come.
22. The company offers perks
Everyone likes to feel like they are getting something for nothing – and employees are no exception. An employer that offers a variety of perks, both in the office and off-site, is more likely to cultivate a happy workplace culture. Start with the basics, a well-stocked break room featuring fresh, locally roasted coffee and delicious snacks.
23. Coworkers want to help each other
Colleagues should be willing to help each other, and by fostering a workplace culture that encourages people to bond with one another you can establish better collaborative work practices. Encourage this by having teams nominate helpful colleagues for regular awards.
24. Employees feel a sense of purpose
When a business has a great workplace culture, people take pride in going to work. Great cultures create an environment where everyone feels their contribution is valued. Moreover, everyone feels that their contribution has a purpose, which is a huge reward in itself.
25. Volunteering opportunities are offered
Giving staff time to contribute to causes they support can be very rewarding for your business. It shows the locals that you care about your community and gives staff an opportunity to do things they want to do. Volunteering is a workplace culture investment that can pay dividends on many levels.
26. There are clear expectations
When people know what they are expected to provide, it is far easier for them to deliver good results. Good results contribute to a cycle of workplace satisfaction that helps feed into a great office culture.
27. Negative behavior is not allowed
Establishing a firm-but-fair set of policies that support positive behaviors is vital to successful workplace culture. It is important to eliminate negatives like workplace bullying, laziness and childish behaviors that contribute to a negative office culture.
28. The boss is a leader and a friend
Managers who are approachable, lead by example and involve themselves in the ebb and flow of work in their department are more likely to contribute to an awesome workplace culture than those who are distant. By getting your hands dirty and contributing to the group’s effort, you show them that you are not above what they do.
29. The office has an open-door policy
Making decisions behind closed doors can create a hostile atmosphere. Partially because people are never sure what is being said about them in terms of their work, which makes them feel uneasy, and partially because people never hear the reasons for decisions from the proverbial horse’s mouth. The end result is the same: a de-motivational workplace culture. Keeping meetings open and discussing things openly dispels the mistrust, bad feelings and general funk that closed doors can cause.
30. Fun is not prohibited
Some workplaces are so mired in the rules that there is no room for the slightest glimmer of self-expression to poke through the grey of the cubicle walls. Some maintain this conformity is essential to a smooth operation, but increasingly studies show that a stale and boring atmosphere actually saps productivity. Instead, try to encourage staff to decorate, have themed dress-down days, have a daily joke; do something that encourage people to laugh a little now and then. Fun should never be off the table, even when serious work must be done in tight deadlines.
31. There is space for employees to hang out
A great break room really is the heart and soul of your firm. Serving fresh, delicious coffee and snacks is just the first step in building a break room where employees want to linger. Add games, quality reading material, comfy furnishings and level your break room game up by hosting regular events that encourage staff to come explore new food or drinks, as well as mingle and get to know one another.
32. There is a casual dress code
Sure, we accept that there is appropriate attire for every profession and that some occasions call for more formal dress. However, it is unlikely that everyone in your firm needs to be wearing a full suit and tie every single day, so let them off the hook. Encourage appropriate but comfortable clothing, and allow staff to dress down for special events. People who are able to wear something less formal feel free to express themselves, more comfortable at their workstations and generally less imposed upon by their workplace.
33. Staff bonding is encouraged
A good way to build a solid overall workplace culture is through the age-old practice of team bonding. Building teams that have respect for and understand how to best support one another is a great start. Bonus points for encouraging staff from different departments to get involved in company-wide bonding activities. Doing so encourages cross-departmental working and other forms of collaboration that can do wonders for productivity and morale.
34. The office has break time activities
We have mentioned the importance of a well-stocked break room more than once, and with good reason. Another key to a great break room atmosphere is giving the wonderful space you have created for your staff a purpose. Host activities that draw people away from their cubes once a month to encourage them to explore the break room offerings. Your office coffee service can help you with coffee tastings or snack samplings, and odds are you have some great in-house talent that could come up with some Minute-to-Win-It challenges anyone would enjoy.
35. Office parties offer reward and social interaction
Workplace culture can be enriched with seasonal parties. Offering folks a chance to get together for non-work purposes or as a reward for meeting key goals is another way to encourage that much-heralded collaboration between departments.
36. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate
While we are on the topic of office parties, hosting monthly low-key gatherings and providing acknowledgement for people’s birthdays, work-a-versaries and other milestones is a huge opportunity. Use these moments to encourage, uplift and unify your staff as a whole. Permeating the office calendar with a celebratory atmosphere gives people something to look forward to on an ongoing basis.
37. Employees are offered a flexible schedule
Flexible scheduling is a great perk for staff, and for some can be the difference between taking an offer at a new company and staying where they already work. Offer people the option to work outside normal business hours to ease their commute. Or, give people the choice of working longer days to achieve a shorter week. Or really knock flexible working out of the park by eliminating the notion of “regular hours” altogether and letting people take vacation whenever they wish.
38. The company promotes quality of life
Having the opportunity to work somewhere that allows for a good work-life balance can truly sway things for employees who are considering taking a new employment offer. Being eternally bound to your smartphone, answering email in the wee hours of the morning, even on vacation, or being interrupted during your kid’s school play is just no fun. A company that acknowledges the importance of people’s lives outside the office is more likely to have a healthy workplace culture that attracts and retains talent.
39. The office has structure and organization
While having fun is important and being flexible breeds better office culture, a clear structure is also important. People need to know what is expected, where they are supposed to file human resources forms and how to get more pens. They should also understand the way their jobs interweave in the overall cloth of your corporation. A clear organizational plan should be available to staff at all levels to help foster understanding and openness.
40. Meetings are quick and efficient
Having daily meetings is a great way to keep everyone appraised of new developments; but only if the time is used wisely. People can quickly find their schedules filled with “short” meetings. Respecting the schedules of others is a great way to foster a welcoming workplace culture. Providing purposeful training for staff on running effective meetings.
41. Encouraging regular breaks
Focus, productivity and even the general health of employees can suffer when people feel obliged to remain anchored to their desks all day. Encouraging people to take regular breaks by having free beverages and snacks available for them is a great way to make people to take screen breaks. By giving people a reason to move around, you help them boost circulation. Giving them drinks helps them stay hydrated. Providing healthy snacks encourages steady blood sugar levels. And all of these contribute to better workplace health and improved productivity overall.
42. Paid time off and holiday breaks are offered
This dovetails into the points about work/life balance, but it is worth calling out on its own. A company that offers minimal vacation time is never going to attract top talent. Adding a bit of extra vacation time, including “normal” holidays and an extended period during the festive season contributes more to the sense of balance that today’s employees often seek.
43. The office welcomes pets and kids
Bring your kid to work days are always a hit. Increasingly, companies are embracing the idea that some people have pets which are just as dear to them as children. Offering people the opportunity to bring their loved one into the office for fun now and then is a great perk. Additionally, it shows staff that you care about things they care about, which breeds a happy workplace.
44. Mistakes are okay
Not only should mistakes be acceptable, they must be embraced as opportunities. Punishing staff for getting something wrong does nothing to improve the situation, it only fosters resentment among teams and individuals. Instead, herald mistakes at the personal or team level as opportunities to learn how things could be done better next time. Moving forward with experience breeds an excellent workplace culture.
45. The office has personality
Switching jobs is more normal now than ever before. The average person spends less than five years with any given company. So, if you want to attract and retain the best people, your firm has to stand out in more ways than one. Strive to create a workplace culture that gives the whole company an engaging personality. Personal touches and unique team branding are a solid start.
46. Open plan for open minds
The “open-plan” office has been around longer than people may realize, but that does not mean it is a bad thing. The key to open concept office spaces is providing workspace that meets the needs of the workers. Provide both open spaces for collaborative working, but also private areas where people can focus on intensive tasks or recharge their creative batteries. Design your work spaces to better support your teams, and your workplace culture will improve.
47. There is spontaneity
Spontaneity is the gateway to innovation. By embracing spontaneous acts and ideas among your staff, you open the door to huge leaps in everything from creativity to productivity. More than this, you foster an environment where people are allowed to actively shape the workplace culture.
48. There is transparency
We extolled the virtue of a flat structure and open meetings before, and again as we wind down our fifty keys to workplace culture success, we want to highlight the importance of transparency. Having open communication, a clear structure and transparent reporting puts employees’ minds at rest and allows them to focus on work.
49. The company values employee input
Part of good communication is encouraging it at all levels. The second, less-discussed point is that you must acknowledge feedback you receive. By valuing the time and sentiment that goes into suggestions, it establishes a reciprocal pattern of communication which shows everyone is part of the same great endeavor.
50. Employees are understood as people
And here we are at the last, arguably most important, point on our list of ways you will know your company has an amazing workplace culture: people belong. If you can create an environment where your staff feels they are understood, a place where they truly belong, then you win the workplace culture battle.
If you are looking for new ways to engage your teams or meet the evolving needs of your workplace culture, contact us. With two decades of experience meeting the break room needs of companies like yours, our coffee gurus have lots of options that can help you make the most of your effort to unify your teams and provide great refreshments along the way.