Business owners strive to continuously improve customer satisfaction. Using both tried and true methods, as well as new tools, technology, and policies, employers are constantly prioritizing the customer experience. Positive customer feedback directly translates into greater returns.
Though customer satisfaction is a high priority, some employers pay less attention to employee satisfaction. This is a mistake, as a positive workplace culture is just as essential to company growth as customer satisfaction.
What makes a positive workplace culture?
If you ask an academic to define culture, they may describe it broadly as “the symbols, language, beliefs, values, and artifacts that are part of any society.”
Looking at this definition, you’ll see that it’s made of two components: symbols, language, beliefs, and values are abstract and constantly shifting, while artifacts refer to physical materials. Thus, culture can be defined as the ideas and world view of a society, as well as the objects used.
The term ‘society’ brings to mind a large group of people (such as citizens of the United States), but it can also refer to a smaller community of people (such as the Amish community). It may also describe a community of people who are connected through a given workplace.
Workplace culture is therefore the ideas and objects within the workplace. It may be positive or negative, depending on the ideas and objects used. A positive workplace culture is essential for company growth and success.
Benefits of a positive workplace culture
A positive workplace culture benefits three areas of the business: employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and overall business growth.
Employees who belong to a positive workplace culture will find more satisfaction in the work they do. They’ll be more motivated to be productive and innovative, and they’ll feel supported by their colleagues and superiors to do so.
While keeping customers happy is primarily understood to result from improving products and services, a positive workplace culture also benefits customers by improving interactions with happy staff members. Customers can often tell whether a workplace is positive or toxic and will consciously (and subconsciously) struggle to be loyal to the latter.
With happy employees and happy customers, you’re certain to see an increase in sales and company growth.
Policies and tools for positive workplace culture
During the hiring process, employers sometimes make the mistake of choosing candidates based on how they’ll ‘fit in’ with the current workplace culture. While you don’t want to hire a candidate who appears to have values that don’t mesh with the company, you should see someone who has a different personality and worldview as an asset.
A diverse workforce leads to innovation that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Though hiring candidates who are similar to your current workforce may lead to seamless integration with the team, you’ll miss out on the unique perspective that a different candidate could bring to the business and existing problems.
Collect employee feedback
As a business owner, you’re well versed in collecting customer feedback. Do you place as much emphasis on collecting employee feedback? Most employers don’t. Providing formal opportunities to give feedback helps employees feel heard and valued.
Regularly collecting employee feedback will help you identify gaps in the workplace. Maybe your employees don’t believe they have the right tools to complete a certain task, or maybe they find a particular procedure inefficient. While some employees are comfortable bringing up issues with their managers, many others are not.
One great tool to use for collecting employee feedback is eNPS, which stands for employee net promoter score. This tool allows you to collect numerical employee feedback at regular intervals. Regular collection allows for easy tracking of changes over time.
In addition to numerical scores, eNPS also allows you to collect follow-up feedback that addresses the reasons why an employee gave a particular score.
Prioritize health and safety
Workplace health and safety are a given, but improving staff health and safety should go beyond WHMIS training, fire safety, and sexual harassment training. While these safety measures are crucial, health and safety encompass much more.
In terms of health, you should provide employees with opportunities to improve their health outside of the office as well. Healthy eating and exercise programs, discounted gym memberships, and extended health benefits are just a few of the ways you can do this.
Safety is a little more complicated. Though you can have sexual harassment measures in place, creating an environment where employees feel comfortable to bring up safety concerns is another matter. When an employee approaches you or HR with a concern, take these concerns seriously and protect their anonymity. There should be zero repercussions to the employee for coming forward.
A zero-tolerance policy is essential for creating an environment in which employees feel supported and safe. When an employee comes to HR with a concern that affects their personal rights to safety and identity expression, HR must act immediately to secure this employee’s safety.
A three-strike system protects the employees who are contributing to a negative workplace culture. By implementing zero tolerance, you’ll protect the employees who are dedicated to creating a safe and supportive space.
When it comes down to it, all human beings want to feel like they have a purpose and are appreciated. People are hardwired to work, create, and innovate, but contrary to popular belief, their motivation for doing so isn’t just financial.
Though a healthy paycheck certainly increases an employee’s motivation to be productive, it rarely inspires. To inspire your employees, you must recognize and congratulate them on the work they do in ways that extend beyond a year-end bonus.
Recognition of employee achievements can be as simple as creating an employee of the month program or even personally taking them aside and thanking them for something they’ve done.
Adapt to employee strengths and weaknesses
During the hiring process, many employers create a comprehensive job posting. This posting often includes essential qualifications and experiences. When selecting candidates, employers may choose who should proceed to the interview stage based on how closely they match these qualifications.
In today’s world, this approach is flawed. While it may be easier to narrow down candidates according to a pre-existing list, hiring candidates according to their potential can actually benefit your business in a much more profound way.
When selecting candidates, consider instead how you could adjust the position to their existing strengths and weaknesses. They may have experience that isn’t directly applicable to the advertised position but may allow them to bring a unique perspective to the job.
Plan after-hours events
Cultivating a positive workplace culture doesn’t always just happen in the office, but outside of it too. While maintaining professionalism in the workplace is important, seeing colleagues outside of work can help employees connect on a deeper level.
However, try not to make these events mandatory or coerce employees into attending. Team building activities also have their time and place, but you should take care in selecting exercises that employees will view as beneficial. Required training that is deemed ‘unhelpful’ is often resented by employees and leads to a decrease in their desire to participate in events.
Provide opportunities for continuous learning
When it comes down to it, a positive workplace culture is really all about employee encouragement and support. One of the ways you can demonstrate support and recognition of your employees’ abilities is by providing them with opportunities for growth.
This may look like providing your employees with training to use the latest and greatest software programs, providing funding for educational courses, or enrolling them in language classes to promote bilingualism or multilingualism.
An employee that feels like their place of employment will continuously help them to meet their goals and grow is an employee who will stay with the company for years, if not their entire career.
Provide required technology
Though important, Ideas, language, and values only go so far in promoting a positive workplace culture. In addition to these more intangible facets, employees also need the physical tools to do their job to the best of their ability. Without the proper technology, employees will struggle to innovate and express their creativity to the fullest extent.
While collecting employee feedback, you may also want to collect data on how well employees feel that their current technology works for them. Find out what tools they need to do better, and make room in your budget to allow for the purchase of these tools. A quick analysis will reveal if purchasing these technologies will have a high ROI (return on investment).
Create opportunities for collaboration
When employees have the opportunity to collaborate with each other, they begin to understand their own strengths and position within the broader team. They also gain respect for the talents and perspectives of their colleagues.
Collaboration also improves communication between employees and reduces the chance that the same work will be done twice or that there will be mistakes that need to be corrected down the road.
A team that collaborates well and respects each other is one that both arises from and actively contributes to a positive workplace culture.