The 5 elements to creating a positive company culture

Posted On: 05 May 2016


Attitude is key. A positive company culture is a critical part of creating a successful organisation, improving employee engagement and basically keeping your employees retained for longer.

A lack of engaged employees is the top issue facing 87 per cent business leaders today, according to a recent study from Deloitte.1

The situation worldwide seems pretty dire; according to Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace survey, just 13 per cent of employees worldwide say they are engaged at work. This means only about one in eight workers (roughly 180 million employees in the 142 countries studied) are engaged in their jobs.

The numbers are staggering – so how do Kiwis measure up? Thankfully, New Zealand came up second in terms of highest engaged number of workers at 24 per cent.

Here are 5 things you should be doing to improve your company culture:

1. Focus on the important, not the urgent

A way to increase efficiencies but thereby team engagement is to focus on the right things to work on. Focusing on the important things well is far more effective than being caught in the constant urgency of fighting fires, solving problems and business as usual activities.

If you have a framework for setting strategy, reviewing strategy, and conducting meetings to drive execution, as well as one on one meetings to develop people, you’ll be building scalable and profitable businesses, with happy employees that know what’s expected of them.

2. Create your company vision and live by it

Decide what the vision of your company is, share it with your team and encourage everyone to live by it too. Your vision should embody your values and your culture, how you deliver excellence and what your mission for the company is. They can look however you want, but should be something inspirational, that is true for your company. Some examples are below:

  • The team comes first – focus on building relationships first, as they will be the building blocks for your culture and makes productivity so much easier
  • Focus on the right things - make sure everyone knows what is important and what must be achieved
  • Strategise efficiently - plan well and set meaningful objectives
  • Strive for excellence - be completely intolerant of mediocrity

3. Encourage a creative workplace

Having a creative, positive company culture means that new ideas can flourish and you can find solutions to tricky issues quicker and more efficiently. This encourages innovation as new ideas flow easily, by you creating time and space for creativity. Allow flexibility in terms of time and location of work.

Encourage free thinking by making sure everyone knows their opinions are appreciated and validated. It's okay to disagree and, in fact, it's what companies need to progress and make sure all different perspectives are taken into account. Even having big white boards for people to draw mind maps and brainstorm ideas around is a fun way to encourage a creative space.

4. Recruit your people to fit your culture – not the other way around

The recruitment process is a critical part of how you ensure a positive company culture. Watching out for not only a candidate’s skills to do the job but also their emotional skills and capacity to care about the job and the people around them, is essential. You can teach people technical skills, but you can’t teach them to care.

A way to assess this whilst recruiting is to ask your applicants questions about what motivates them and drives them, what they’re inspired by and what type of companies they have worked well with in the past vs. not well with. This will allow you to see trends and pick up patterns in their responses.

5. Take charge of your vision and culture

As a business leader, you inadvertently set the tone for the culture. In order for the culture to be what you want it to be, you need to actively take charge of it. The danger is that if you don’t, employees will formulate their own norms, values and beliefs, which may be the opposite of what you are striving towards, and this can have disastrous consequences. When you as a leader embody the cultural values you champion, employees will follow suit.

A way of doing this is to articulate your purpose and vision for the business. The first step is knowing your corporate identity and building a language to communicate it to your team. Once everyone understands who you are as a business and what your purpose is, make your work environment align with your values.

And finally … encourage extracurricular activities for team members to forge close-knit relationships and build high levels of mutual trust and friendship.

1. Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte

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Topics: Company Culture