Without a doubt, the workplace evolves over time and grows with different trends and expectations. For example, on May 1, 1926, Henry Ford introduced the 40-hour workweek. That innovation, while contested now, improved on the six-day workweek. However, some businesses today have moved a step further, arguing for a four-day schedule. Ultimately, this sort of workplace advancement traces back to the idea of creating a good company culture.
Ford knew in the early 20th Century that workers would be drawn to the idea of a shorter workweek. And in implementing that sort of corporate policy, he helped ensure employee loyalty. Companies today attempt to inspire the same sort of attitude. Offering appealing incentives and benefits represents one way of reducing turnover and costs, and shorter work weeks are prime ground for doing so. But there are many ways to achieve a good company culture.
In the end, creating a positive atmosphere leads to beneficial ends for both companies and workers. So, it makes sense that individuals on both sides of the aisle should recognize the different signs of a good company culture. Fortunately, we’ve put together a short list to help you know what to look for.
The Signs of a Good Company Culture
1. Low Employee Turnover
Interestingly, lower turnover is both the result and the sign of a good company culture. But this cyclical aspect makes sense. When a workplace is healthy, individuals become slower to leave. After all, people generally want to work for companies that establish an employee-centric atmosphere. At the same time, lower turnover indicates to prospective employees that a company might be the right fit. Because if they notice that people tend to stay there, it speaks well of their policies and overall attitude. So, one of the first things to look for when seeking a good company culture is whether workers tend to stay longer.
2. Clear Corporate Values
It’s impossible to build a strong corporate culture without first identifying the overall values of the company. Employees want to know the primary purpose of their work – what their efforts help to build. After all, few people want to contribute to an organization where the only goal is to make as much money as possible. Instead, they hope to do something that improves society, that impacts others positively. So, before ever attempting to create a good company culture, you have to understand values and communicate them clearly. That way, employees have an exact idea of why the tasks they’re performing matter.
3. Strong Internal Communication
Few things destroy an otherwise good company culture the way lack of communication does. In fact, failure to communicate well leads to confusion, anger and even resentment. So, corporate leaders have to understand the importance of establishing clear ways of sending information where it needs to go. Sometimes, leaders might purposefully confuse employees in order to retain control or keep negative details hidden. And obviously, this denotes a harsh and abusive working environment. Instead, those who hope to establish a positive atmosphere must recognize the importance of clear and truthful communication channels.
4. Good Employee Benefits
Again, companies which exhibit a good company culture generally do so through employee-centric practices. In other words, they do their best to make sure they take care of their workers. So, it naturally follows that they offer good employee benefits. Of course, what this means from one workplace to another might vary – especially depending on the nature of the job itself. But there are some common forms of employee benefits that most workers look for when choosing a job. These might include:
- Paid time off
- Flexible schedules
- Life and health insurance
The list could go on much further, but the point should be clear. Employers have a responsibility to care for their workers, and the availability of good benefits often shows which companies truly want what’s best.
5. Empowered Employees
Often, companies with a positive working environment allow their employees a measure of autonomy. Of course, this freedom allows workers to determine how and when to accomplish their tasks. But beyond that, it affords them the chance to innovate and make stronger contributions to their teams. Naturally, this requires a great deal of trust on the part of the employer and responsibility for the employee. But when both halves align well, great accomplishments follow.
The alternative is a company which fails to trust employees. Often, rather than empowering employees, they bear down on them with strict rules and guidelines. And this stifles the opportunity for new ideas and advancements. After all, when everything has to fall in-line, there’s little room to maneuver to new and great places.
6. An Environment of Trust
Ultimately, trust at all levels hallmarks a good company culture. That means leaders need to afford workers the room to do the things they were hired to do without constantly looking over their shoulders. In a sense, if leaders feel the need to do so, they’re only admitting to their own ineptitude. Because in the hiring process, they should have weeded out candidates that they felt they couldn’t trust. That also doesn’t mean that leaders take a fully hands-free approach. After all, their job is to help steer the overall course of the organization. But they can’t do that if they’re so focused on correcting employees that they fail in other regards.
Unfortunately, this does sometimes mean letting employees go who prove untrustworthy. For example, those who are constantly absent, abuse their privileges or constantly cause problems for team members. But part of building a strong organization requires growing pains. The ultimate goal should be to establish strong, self-starting teams that take on responsibility for success and failure. That way, the organization has no shortage of innovative workers and leaders who allow them room to do so.
7. Minimal Office Politics
Unfortunately, every multi-employee workplace will have at least some amount of office politicking. That naturally results when different teams have to vie for attention in order to accomplish their goals. But often it moves much further than this, where gossip and less-savory tactics prevail. Part of establishing a good company culture means minimizing office politics. Of course, it’s paramount for employees to voice concerns when they’re legitimate. But that’s a far cry from the intentional slander and sabotage all too common in some companies. Establishing organizational structure with clear lines of communication for workers to voice worry is vital to a healthy organization. Because when office politics reign unchecked, they end in division which can lead to catastrophic results.
8. Leadership Stays Accountable
At the end of the day, responsibility for success and failure fall squarely on the shoulders of company leaders. And it’s absolutely vital for those individuals to own up to their mistakes while sharing wins with their workers. One of the worst blows to employee morale is when leaders attempt to pin blame on others for their own mistakes. So, those in charge have to be willing to take responsibility and accept accountability. After all, few people want to follow a “perfect” person, who they can never measure up to. But it’s much easier to admire a fallible leader who admits to their shortcomings. Sometimes, this constitutes the measurement between good and bad leaders.
9. Diverse Teams and Employees
Diversity is one of the lesser-recognized signs of a good company culture, but it’s equally important. Of course, this refers to diversity in ethnicity and gender. However, it also means diversity of thought. After all, putting people who are essentially the same onto a team and expecting innovative results is unlikely. But allowing individuals of different backgrounds to come together offers a great chance to different viewpoints to meld and provide new insight. Of course, this also means there will be conflict at times. Because it’s difficult to avoid when people with differing lines of thought work in close proximity with one another. But through this difficulty, individuals grow and establish new ways of thinking and solving problems together.
10. Accessible Leadership
A sign of unhealthy culture is inaccessible leadership, when company executives hide themselves away and fail to interact with their employees. This sort of “untouchable” mentality draws up a stark contrast between the “important” people and the mere workers. And ultimately, the damage wrought by this sort of thinking can quickly become irreversible. Instead, executives should make themselves as available as possible, so workers have the freedom to approach them with questions, needs, and worries. Ultimately, this helps establish the sort of open communication channels an organization needs to survive in the modern business world.
Now, in larger companies, with thousands of employees, this sort of structure might not always be possible. Leaders cannot entertain multiple questions from hundreds of employees each day. But again, determining a clear structure, where workers have clear individuals to approach when needed can make a massive difference in morale.
11. High Number of Job Applicants
Generally speaking, organizations which establish a good company culture should see a larger number of applicants. After all, advertising healthy workplace practices speaks for itself in the hiring process. The benefits workers can expect, alongside the opportunity to work in a promising environment, draws people in. Furthermore, current employees likely discuss the positive atmosphere with those outside of the organization. In turn, this word-of-mouth workplace recommendation spreads quickly, leading to an increased number of applications.
12. Investment in Employee Learning
The strongest organizations are those which understand the value of education. Since the workplace constantly evolves and shifts, it’s essential for workers to grow with it, and this requires continuing education. Sometimes, companies will compensate employees for educational experiences which help them grow their skills. Other times, organizational leaders might determine to host in-house learning opportunities for workers. Regardless the method, part of a good company culture means offering the opportunity for employees to grow.
Of course, VTR Learning is one of many options to help with this aspect, since we offer dozens of courses on core business topics.
13. Qualified Individuals Fill Important Roles
Nepotism is the bane of a good company culture, because putting unqualified individuals in key roles leads to bad ends. Of course, if those people deserve the role and have the background to support it, that’s a different matter. But hiring people for important positions based only on personal relationship denotes poor leadership and lack of responsibility. Alternatively, the most successful companies put qualified personnel in roles suited for their abilities and ensure they have the skills to succeed.
14. Publicly Celebrating Wins
Companies with good cultures celebrate success, and they do so publicly, recognizing key contributors. Leaders give credit where due, and acknowledge the contributions of their employees. After all, without their efforts, successes likely wouldn’t have happened in the first place. So, rather than downplaying the role others have in accomplishing core objectives, they should point specifically toward their hard work and dedication.
15. Comfortable Workspaces
Finally, establishing good company culture means investing in the physical comfort of employees. So, rather than cramming ten people into a room fit for five, you should ensure everyone has enough space. The best office setup will differ from place to place, but helping workers feel that they have some amount of autonomy over their space achieves similar results. They may suffer fewer distractions, focus better, and achieve stronger results.
Discover Other Signs of Good Company Culture
If you’re struggling to establish the kind of organizational culture you want, VTR Learning is here to help. We have several courses over topics like Human Resources and Leadership that showcase the importance of good company culture in a narrative setting. So, instead of watching through slideshows on this important topic, you can gain firsthand experience with what it might look like in a real setting. Be sure to check them out now!
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last update April 17, 2023