Is your company slow to react to change? Does your company have many ‘layers/section’ so
that your employees feel stifled and don’t have a voice or a say over what goes on within its
walls? Are only a few in charge of the decision-making process? Do you often find that there
is a conflict between departments (or staff)? If you have answered “yes” to these questions,
your company follows a traditional culture – one that is outdated. Today, successful
companies are moving away from a traditional culture to one that is aligned with their
company values, as well as the values of its people.
A value-based company is one that shares its core values with all its employees. Question –
why is it so important to have a company culture that aligns with its people? The simple
answer is that today, employees are on the lookout for companies that can intertwine their
own beliefs and values with those of the company. Employees want to work in a workplace
where there is a shared vision of success and purpose, and where they feel empowered.
According to a LinkedIn study, employees have far more expectations (compared to before)
of their employers’ and would rather work in a conducive workplace environment – even if
that means forgoing a ‘title’ or a higher salary.
According to the survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 85% of CFOs and
CEOs believe that unethical behavior arises from an unhealthy culture. The same survey also
found that nine out of 10 CFOs believed that by improving company culture, the company’s
business value and performance would increase substantially. How can a company improve
its culture and ensure it aligns with its people? Here are some steps that companies can take.
Lead by example
Have you heard of the adage that the “fish rots from the top?” This is true and relevant to
businesses as well. There is plenty of research to back this up and it shows that leaders can
and do make or break a company’s culture.
Most often, businesses list their core values on the website or stick posters on the workplace
walls without really following or living up to those values. Excellent business leaders don’t
merely read out the company’s mission or vision statement. They reflect the company’s
values. They live and breathe the core values and then do what it takes to ensure the
employees do the same. They understand that their employees look up to them and follow
them. They set a great example by genuinely reflecting the brand and live by the company’s
culture. Employees are naturally drawn to these leaders and are inspired by them – and they
are inclined to follow them.
Communicate with truthfulness and maintain transparency
It’s easy for employers and leaders of a small business to communicate with their employees
directly and frequently. But as a company grows, communication often becomes sporadic and
infrequent because it is hard to reach out to so many individuals. In the process, trust (or one
of many other values) is often lost.
Business leaders must communicate the company’s values, visions, and goals explicitly to
their employees and update them on whether or not the company is on track to meet goals.
Every employee must be made aware of the company’s culture. This is very important as it
keeps everyone on the same page, and employees are encouraged to play their part in
Good leaders are not only honest and open about the company’s culture, but are honest about
their own strengths and weaknesses as well. They approach everything with honesty and
Transparency must also exist between management and employees. To ensure transparency
with employees, managers must have recurring check-ins with their team members to discuss
what is working and what is not working, and what employees can do to grow in their
Treat employees well
One thing that all successful companies understand is that employees come first – and not the
clients. When employers treat their employees with respect, they will be able to implement
the company’s culture more easily. In addition, companies will also see a decrease in the
turnover rate and an increase in the company’s reputation.
Treating employees well is half the battle, but this must be preceded by hiring the right type
of people. When hiring employees, focus more on character and attitude rather on their skill.
Skills can be learned, but it is harder to develop the attitude and character of an employee.
Empower your employees
While many leaders believe that they are taking measures to build and improve their
workplace culture, nearly 45% of employees believe that is not the case. They believe that
their leaders don’t do enough or are not committed to improving company culture. With
nearly half of employees in disagreement with their leaders take on “improving company
culture,” there could be severe business repercussions like voluntary turnover.
Leaders can demonstrate to employees that they are indeed taking action to change the
company culture by giving employees the power to impact culture. For example, employees
could be allowed to speak freely when they don’t agree with a company’s actions, or they
could have a say in the projects that the company takes on.
Improve role fit
Employees must be encouraged to take on work that they are passionate about. They must
also be allowed to take part in areas where they believe they can provide the most value. For
example, employees who enjoy speaking with clients must be encouraged and allowed to take
part in face-to-face interactions – which could, in turn, make their job more engaging.
Employers must support those employees who would like to branch out in these ways and
contribute more to the business.
Establish connections at the workplace
An employee’s experience at the workplace is greatly affected by his day-to-day relationships
within the company. Employers can provide their employees with opportunities to build and
strengthen workplace relationships. These opportunities could include workplace
celebrations, team building activities, and establishing social gathering spots.
Another activity that employers can encourage is recognition and feedback at all levels. When
employers their employees, they build trust and open communication with these employees.
Employers can also ask their employees for feedback about their workplace relationships and
then provide guidance/advice on how to improve relationships (for example, getting an
employee to go on a coffee break with a colleague they don’t get along with).
Connecting roles to purposes
Employees must realise that their contributions to the business are meaningful, or their
contribution to the company would be a half-hearted effort. Employers can develop a culture
where the importance of each employee of the company is reinforced. Employers can
encourage their employees to examine how their role ties back to the greater good of the
business; however, it is the company’s responsibility to make this connection absolutely
Focus on long-term goals
There is a compulsion to focus on short-term goals. However, focusing only on short-term
goals can leave your employees feeling frustrated and disjointed. Priorities shift every week,
and employees lose motivation because they don’t understand how their work contributes to
the overall business.
Instead of merely focusing on short-term goals, the entire team should be aligned toward
achieving long-term goals. This will encourage a collaborative culture and excite employees
to work toward achieving those goals.
A company’s culture plays a major factor in attracting and retaining employees. It also helps
promote and maintain a positive reputation. Creating a company culture that is similar to or
coincides with its people’s values is not an option – it is a necessity. We live in a time when
businesses are making headlines for culture failures. Employers must evaluate whether its
company’s culture is successfully empowering their employees and aligned with their
To align a company’s culture with its employees in a true and deep sense, employees must be
empowered. Only then will the company truly flourish and benefit from its new culture.