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Steps to Improve Corporate Culture

Published Thursday Jun 6, 2024

Author Toni Runci

Have you noticed a spike in tension, productivity issues, or even conflicts in the workplace? These could be signs of a deeper cultural problem—but how do you improve corporate culture?

When you begin to consider the effort and resources involved in strengthening your team, it can be intimidating. But building a positive culture is not just worth it; it’s vital to your organization’s success. There is no blanket solution, and it calls for more than the occasional pizza party.

What is Company Culture?
Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that distinguish an organization and shape its work environment. It encompasses the norms, traditions, and practices that define how employees interact with each other, approach their work, and perceive the organization as a whole. Common things that make up company culture are the values, mission, communication methods, leadership style, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and recognition and rewards.

Assessing Your Culture
Where does your team’s culture and morale stand at this moment? Pay attention to your employees and reflect on their attitudes, productivity, and engagement. Are they upbeat and excited to get to work? Do they understand the company’s goals and how they contribute to them? Or do they appear frustrated, confused, or uninterested?

A great way to take the temperature would be short surveys or meeting one-on-one with some of your tenured employees to get their perspectives on the company culture. Build this into your regular check-ins, and even your performance reviews. While reviewing the employee, ask them to review your company’s communication and understanding of the company’s goals.

Once you’ve gathered these insights, look at the bigger picture to determine if the current state of your organization will help achieve its big goals. If not, identify specific areas to focus on improving company culture, such as compensation, benefits, or additional training.

Revisit Your Mission, Vision & Values
As you evaluate the big picture of your company culture, contemplate your mission, vision, and values. Are they still aligned and guiding your team and company? How are you using them, communicating them, and showing them to your team? Every team member, from executives to staff level, should feel aligned with these statements and understand how their role ties into them. Avoid long-winded statements or having too many values, which could be forgotten and water down your overall message. Now consider where your business puts these into action and where there are gaps. Then, adjust accordingly. There is nothing worse than empty brand statements. Remember, your mission and values should drive the rest of your team’s behavior and all business decisions.

Get Leadership on Board
Improving corporate culture must start at the top. Are your executives and managers on the same page? Do they feel connected to and embrace the mission and values every day? If the answer is no or uncertain on any of the above, your leaders may need clarification on the specific actions and steps they can take to demonstrate the company values and desired culture. It might be time for workshops and training to remind management of what they can do to help improve company culture.

Foster Connection & Teambuilding
Whether your team is remote, in-person, or hybrid, all employees need to connect on some personal level. Leaders can do this by:

  • Hosting team meals, coffee chats, or happy hours;
  • Planning fun activities like games and escape rooms during work hours (these can be in person or virtual);
  • Making a Slack or Teams channel just for connection and fun; and
  • Creating shared spaces where team members can have chance encounters (such as a welcoming breakroom).
  • Building these relationships helps gain mutual respect and understanding. Your team members may even find they have more in common than they think. Ultimately, their communication will improve and they’ll work better together.

Prioritize Transparency
Your people want to know that you trust them. Make transparency easy by investing in technology and communication tools like an internal chat (such as Slack or Teams) and a project management platform (such as Asana or Monday). These allow employees to easily connect and check assignments. Of course, transparency also applies to when and how you share information—both the good and the bad. Share the wins of individuals, teams, and the entire company regularly. These help to boost morale and motivation. When you have difficult news to deliver, show your employees respect by being as open as possible as early as possible. Let them know you plan to work through it as a team and ask for their ideas and input when appropriate. While you don’t need to share every detail with every employee, taking an open, collaborative approach can yield powerful results from the brains and backgrounds of your talented team.

Give Employees Autonomy & Flexibility
Another way to show employees you trust them is by giving them the freedom to manage their duties and projects, which you can do by:

  • Allowing flexible work schedules;
  • Offering an unlimited PTO policy;
  • Letting them work remotely;
  • Empowering them to make their own decisions; and
  • Coaching overbearing managers and colleagues.

Avoiding micromanagement, encouraging work-life balance, and empowering employees to make decisions will build their confidence and help them grow. In turn, they’ll be more productive and engaged.

Show Employee Recognition
Did you know most employees say they would work harder if they got more recognition? Yet only a third of them receive it weekly. Companies are hurting themselves, as workers who don’t feel appreciated are twice as likely to quit in the next year. 

Often, employees simply want to know their hard work is appreciated. Remember to tell them when they’ve done an excellent job and give them public shoutouts to encourage others to do the same. Create an employee recognition program that spotlights performers who epitomize the company values and culture you’re aiming for.

You could do this through an anonymous nomination system, company communication platforms, or a specific employee recognition platform.

Focus on Workplace Mental Health
An alarming amount of American’s rate their mental health as fair or poor, reporting about four times more unplanned absences due to poor mental health. Mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with substance misuse. Prioritizing employee mental health and overall wellness is critical. Leaders must create a supportive work culture by:

  • Setting reasonable goals and expectations;
  • Providing flexibility when employees are struggling;
  • Asking team members how they’re doing regularly without focusing strictly on work;
  • Encouraging healthy practices and self-care; and
  • Offering mental health care coverage.

Emphasis on mental health is central to improving corporate culture for many organizations today. Managers should set an example by demonstrating their own boundaries and work-life balance while respecting those of their employees. Consider training leaders to recognize the signs of mental distress and substance misuse.

Turning Company Culture Around
While most of these steps are simple, they require effort and thoughtfulness.  Take your time to determine your current corporate culture and where you should focus first. Don’t rush it. Refine one area’s process and system, then move on to the next. Most importantly, get buy-in from your leadership teams from the start. Involve them in evaluating your mission and values, ask for their feedback and ideas on developing new policies and programs, and invest in leadership training. 

Toni Runci is a consultant, co-owner and co-founder of BlueLion, a NH-based HR consulting company.  For more information, visit

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