When you think about culture, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about your open-door policy, your employee handbook or your code of ethics. While those all play an important role in defining your company and its culture, corporate culture also includes the working environment, non-monetary benefits to employees, philanthropic affiliations, employee development and how the company operates on a daily basis.  Company culture is defined by what is done at the company, not simply by what is said. Sure, you might have a documented open-door policy, but in reality are those doors really open?

Many recent surveys on employee satisfaction highlight the negative culture of the company as one of the top reasons for employee dissatisfaction. We spend at least one-third of our life at work. So if you come to a workplace that is dirty, with dim lighting and an “all-for-me” mentality, would you be satisfied? I know I wouldn’t.

Work is called work for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that your corporate culture can’t have an element of fun and individuality regardless of its size.
Work is called work for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that your corporate culture can’t have an element of fun and individuality.

Here are some ways that you can evaluate your current culture and make immediate improvement:

Assess the Current Situation. In order to determine how to improve your culture, you need to take a look at the current culture. Walk into your company as if you were entering it for the first time. What do you see? Is it clean? Is the lighting adequate? Do the walls need to be painted or the carpets cleaned? Once you take a look at the environmental factors, observe the employees. Are they walking around with a smile or a frown? Are they talking to each other or is the work environment like a library? What is their body language? The ways that employees carry themselves, interact with other employees and your customers tell you volumes about how they feel about their job and the company as a whole. You just need to observe and listen. During this assessment, take a look at your current employee handbook and corporate guidelines. Are there policies or procedures that are outdated?

Promote from within – Offering employees access to a training program that in turn allows them to advance increases both loyalty and retention. This loyalty can also lead to customer loyalty. If a customer is interacting with the same employees, they realized that the company’s turnover is low and the employees are happy with their work environment. By promoting from within, you also gain loyalty and longevity. If your workforce knows that your corporate culture will look inside first before hiring for a position, they will work harder to achieve the skills necessary for advancement.

Offer flexible work schedules – Our employees come from diverse backgrounds and have different needs to allow for a positive work/life balance. We offer employees flexible start and end times as well as opportunities to work from home. Some companies hesitate at offering flexible schedules especially a work from home option due to the misconception that employees would be less productive. We have not seen any impact to employee productivity due to working remotely. To ensure that this endeavor is successful, it is important to clearly document the process, availability and eligibility for participation.

Set a relaxed dress code – Gone are the days where all companies required employees to wear a suit and tie for men and dress business attire for women. With the exception of a few industries, (banking, finance, real estate), you would be hard pressed to find that attire in an office on a regular basis. A relaxed dress code allows employees to feel more comfortable and at ease when working. An additional benefit to employees is a cost savings with regard to clothing purchases and dry cleaning bills. Again, it is important that the code is documented and enforced.

A company needs to get to the root of what would make their employees happy, which in turn will make your customers happy. Happy employees equal a happy customer which in turn increases the bottom line and makes for happy executives and shareholders.