How to Improve Company Culture in 12 Steps

Cassy Aite
July 20, 2022
How to Improve Company Culture in 12 Steps

Changing your company culture for the better isn’t always easy. Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, and some aspects require more planning than others. Still, there are many ways you can tweak and improve your company culture for the better. 

In this guide, we’ll touch on what company culture means, then take you through some of our best advice on how to transform yours from average to noteworthy. 

What is company culture?

Company culture isn’t table tennis and beers on a Friday night. It’s every action, value, behavior, and decision you make that might impact the people you call coworkers. 

Your company culture has an impact on almost everything, including: 

  • Attracting top talent from a diverse group of people
  • Engagement in company initiatives and events
  • Productivity and motivation to do a great job
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Company innovation and growth
  • Retaining talented employees
  • Opportunities to work with partners and clients that value culture, diversity and inclusion

With it touching so many different areas of your business, it’s crucial that you get your company culture right. A culture that’s not aligned with the values and goals of the people that work there can quickly lead to a lack of trust, disengaged employees, and resignations. That’s why it’s so important to proactively work on your company culture to create the best possible experience. 

Every company has a culture that develops organically over time. But sometimes we might want to help shape it in a certain direction, or improve our culture to attract and retain talented people.

12 steps to improve your company culture

Let’s explore some real, actionable tactics you can try to shape a strong company culture— with insights and examples from companies that have gone through the process. 

1. Evaluate what your company culture is like now

You can’t take any meaningful steps forward without first evaluating where you are now. Before you start changing your culture, take a closer look at what it looks and feels like now — both to you and the team around you. 

To make this step count, you need to get the entire organization involved. Create spaces where people can share their honest feedback about your culture and what working for you is like. Employee engagement surveys, workshops, and 1:1 meetings are all valuable ways to poll your team members about company culture. 

As you explore people’s thoughts, ask questions like: 

  • Do you feel welcome here?
  • What was your onboarding experience like?
  • Do you feel like your team members respect and value what you do? 
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • How do you feel about our perks and benefits?
  • Is there room for you to grow here?
  • What do we do well?
  • Have you experienced burnout?
  • If you could change anything about our culture, what would it be?

Some of these questions might surface some hard truths. You might also find it challenging to engage your employees. Encourage people to take part and engage in your surveys and workshops by offering a digital reward — like a Hoppier card. 

Understanding where you stand now gives you some powerful insights on how to move forward. Not only do you know what needs fixing or what works well, but you can use this starting point as a reference to monitor progress as your project unfolds. 

2. Bring your employees along for the journey

Culture change happens right across your organization. It’s not mandated from the top down. This means it’s essential that you bring everyone along with you for the journey, right from the start.

Getting your team members involved in the process means they’ll feel more invested, engaged, and involved in making the outcome a reality. A company’s culture has a huge impact on the way people feel about work, so it’s in their interests to stay curious and get involved. 

Use your culture project as the perfect opportunity to create more employee engagement. Create different ways to get feedback, welcome ideas, and collaborate across teams to create a culture that reflects everyone. 

If you’re onboard with #1, you’ll already know one great way you can invite people along for the journey. Here are some more ways to involve your team members in the process: 

  • Run a Q&A or Ask Me Anything with your leadership or human resources team
  • Ask new employees for feedback on their experience so far
  • Open up a suggestion box for ideas, comments, and suggestions
  • Host a series of workshops or virtual events as your culture project progresses
  • Ask for volunteers to help you organize and execute your plan
  • Create a Slack channel to talk about progress
  • Plan and host a company culture awards day

While you need to strike a balance between inviting suggestions and making progress, bringing your employees along for the journey is one of the best ways to create a positive culture shift. It empowers them, involves them, and gives you the ultimate opportunity to make the best impact.

3. Create a budget for company culture

It’s difficult to make a real culture shift without actually spending money and time on your plans. If you’re serious about shifting your company culture for the better, create a realistic budget to invest in tools, experiences, and products that reflect your company’s priorities. 

If you’re heavily focused on promoting wellness, you might spend more on health plans and fitness memberships. If you lean into professional development, you might need a substantial learning budget.

Here are a handful of ideas for items to include in your culture budget, along with a suggested investment: 

  • Team lunch every month — $30 per person, per month
  • Employee appreciation gifts — $200 per person, per year
  • Monthly gym memberships — $30 per person, per month
  • Engagement apps and survey tools — $50 per month
  • Professional development stipend — $500 per person, per year
  • A tool like Hoppier to elevate experiences and gifts —  starting at $25 / person
  • Dedicated role to oversee company culture — $58,000 per year

You can spend as much or as little as you want on company culture, and make savings where you need to. For example, you might not need a dedicated role to oversee culture — you could start small by funding a % of someone’s role to focus on this, if they’re excited about the idea.

Having a dedicated budget is key. Without one, it’s easy to see that money spent on other things — even with the best intentions. A clear, defined organizational culture budget makes it easier to invest in initiatives and signals that you’re serious about investing in your culture. 

4. Be open and transparent

Research shows that 87% of people want their organizations to be transparent with them. It’s one of the top requests from people these days, and it’s easy to see why. People want to feel trusted, empowered, and in control — that’s not possible without transparency. 

Transparency and open communication has to be embraced by all, but needs to start at the top. Encourage your leadership team to use their influence to open the doors and signal that you’re happy to have honest, transparent conversations in the open. 

It’s easy to say that transparency is the way forward, but how do you make that happen? Here are some powerful ways you can encourage and demonstrate transparency in the work environment: 

  • Actively encourage people to ask questions and make challenges
  • Answer questions posed to you honestly and with respect
  • Give people timelines and set expectations — for example when hiring or planning projects
  • Openly share information about business performance, sales data, and growth
  • Share bad or disappointing news personally, not behind a representative
  • Encourage honest communication between team members
  • Offer opportunities in public, so everyone has the same chance to get involved 

Transparency and honest communication is more than just the actions you take, but these can help you move your company to a place where transparency isn’t just a goal, it’s a lived experience. 

Real world example: HubSpot

HubSpot is known for being a major player in the marketing tech space, but they’re also a great example of how you can use transparency to shape, reinforce, and talk about your company culture. 

Inspired by what was originally an internal document, HubSpot published their Culture Code online for everyone to see. It’s a huge slide deck filled with detail, but the main takeaway is that you get a real sense for who they are and what they stand for by reading it.

This is transparency in practice, and a powerful way to not only show that you live your values, but attract future talent and partners too. You don’t have to create a 100+ page slide deck, but you can take inspiration from their openness to share what makes their culture amazing. 

5. Share and live your company values

A great way to get everyone onboard with your company culture and change it for the better is to share and demonstrate your company mission statement and values. This is about not just having a rulebook for how you operate, but actually acting on that in practice.

The first step is to establish some core company values that feel right. If you’re a fresh company, your values probably stack up nicely against what you want them to be. For more established companies, they might need some tweaking. 

You might decide that it’s time to revamp your company values completely. If that’s the case, take a good look at what matters to you, get your employees involved, and kick off your culture change by making sure your company values match. 

Once you’re happy with your values, it’s all about sharing them with everyone and making sure they guide the decisions you make. It’s easy to have amazing core values, but making them a reality feels more difficult.

Let’s take a look at some common company values and how you can express them in reality: 

  • Transparency: invite open discussion and challenge with a Q&A session
  • Diversity: make it easy for diverse voices to contribute with more inclusive tools, language, and opportunities
  • Better communication and teamwork: launch Slack channels, create an internal newsletter, or host regular virtual events your employees ask for
  • Work/life balance: empower your team members to choose their own schedule
  • Collaboration: set up a suggestion box and attribute ideas to their creator

With some practical activities to tie your company values to, it’s easier to see how you can live and breathe them in everything that you do. If this feels like a change from your old culture, find ways to encourage more buy-in across teams. Openly celebrate people that embody your core values, and treat them to a reward like a Hoppier card to say thank you.

6. Make a commitment to diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) should always be on our minds, but simply thinking about it isn’t enough. Research by McKinsey found that feelings around leadership action on diversity and inclusion were 56% negative, which means there’s room for growth. This culture shift has to happen from the top, with executives and the leadership team paving the way for a more inclusive place to work. 

To make a real impact with diversity and inclusion, there has to be action alongside the sentiment. Look for areas, systems, and processes in your business that are inflexible or aren’t inclusive. Consider your hiring practices, what your virtual events look like, and what day to day life is like working with you. Often there are always ways we can be more inclusive and encourage diversity.

Here are some useful ways you can bring more diversity and inclusion to the workplace: 

  • Thoroughly review your job adverts and hiring process to remove any bias and promote diversity
  • Introduce a fair pay structure where men and women are paid the same
  • Offer generous healthcare and family-related benefits
  • Host a virtual event with an expert speaker on topics like Black History Month, hispanic heritage, and women’s equality
  • Invest in making your workplace more accessible
  • Introduce ways for everyone to have their voice heard — like an anonymous suggestion box
  • Allow time off to attend rallies in support of important causes
  • Celebrate holidays and awareness days of multiple faiths and backgrounds
  • Provide free mental health support services and subscriptions for your team members
  • Promote flexible working and adjustments for those that need or would appreciate it
  • Create pathways to management and leadership for all interested candidates

Some of these are major culture or process changes, but others can be introduced more quickly. Review your diversity and inclusion policy and overall strategy, ask your team members what a good company culture with D&I looks like to them, then make plans to bring some of these tactics and ideas to life. 

Real world example: Accenture

Diversity and inclusion practices are often hidden away internally, but Accenture’s inclusion and diversity commitment is public and a wonderful example of what to strive for.

It covers what steps they take to be more inclusive and promote diversity across different key areas, and talks about what they’ve achieved — like 100% pay equity for women. Take inspiration from this to help guide your D&I practices and also encourage you to talk about this publicly. 

7. Prioritize what matters to your employees

We might think we know best when it comes to corporate culture and pay and benefits, but we need to hear it straight from the people that it’ll impact the most — our team members. In any thriving workplace culture, there’s an appreciation of and focus on delivering an experience that matches what your employees expect, want, and need. 

You could introduce unlimited paid time off, but discover that it actually negatively impacts take up because people are worried about what it really means. You might offer a paid gym membership, but actually your team members would prefer a subscription to Headspace. Knowing what your team members actually want can help you make the right decisions, and avoid costly mistakes heading in the wrong direction.

Here are some ways to understand what your employees value, want, or need: 

  • Run an annual or quarterly employee engagement survey
  • Ask people to vote on which benefits and perks they want the most
  • Analyze which perks, benefits, and stipends get used the most
  • Ask your team members as part of your 1:1 meetings

Knowing what your employees place value on can help you create an employee experience that makes more people happy. Empowering your employees to share their thoughts means they’re more likely to buy into the change and overall journey. It can also guide your strategic direction as a company, if you decide to embrace projects that align with your goals and introduce benefits that appeal to a new talent group.

Collecting this data can also help you build more personal experiences for your team members too. You can tailor someone’s individual experience with you based on their goals, needs, and values. Offer someone a scholarship so they can study leadership, or support a change to someone’s working pattern so they can care for a loved one. Use this as an opportunity to not only create a better culture overall, but to delight individual team members. 

8. Create opportunities for people to connect

Most of us want to build a stronger relationship with the people we work with every day. Research shows that 91% of people want to feel closer to their team members. Make this happen by actively introducing more ways for people to connect, get to know each other, and form friendships. 

There’s an endless amount of virtual events and team building activities you could try. Here are some of our favorites: 

Whichever type of event or activity you try, look for tools that can enhance that experience. Use Hoppier to send virtual cards that people can spend on food, drink, and experiences — like coffee from Tim Hortons, or the latest book club read from Amazon. Think about using a virtual event platform for your major events too, so you can create a more engaging, immersive experience.

9. Build opportunities for growth and development

A lack of opportunity for growth presents a real problem for both turnover rates and work culture. 58% of employees said that their companies didn’t have enough growth to sustain them long term, which means they’ll head elsewhere in search of what they need. Boost your employee retention rates and design a culture that celebrates growth and learning by making a real commitment to it. 

Growth and development doesn’t always have to be one linear path. Here are some great ways you can invest in your employees’ career growth: 

  • Create clear pathways to management and leadership positions
  • Offer to pay membership fees for industry organizations
  • Host training sessions with experts on engaging topics
  • Pay for team members to attend virtual or in-person conferences and industry events
  • Offer a monthly or yearly stipend to all employees for professional development
  • Invest in seminars on topics like confidence and communication
  • Send your employees a Hoppier card that they can spend on learning services like Udemy

The actions you prioritize will depend on your company and culture goals. What’s most important is to recognize that career and growth opportunities have a major impact on culture and retention, and to find engaging ways to not just prevent departures but create an environment where people can thrive. 

10. Embrace a culture of feedback

Hearing negative feedback isn’t always fun, but feedback remains an essential part of the workplace. Plus, it’s something that people actively seek out — 65% of people want more feedback. Give people what they want, and take steps towards a more supportive and transparent culture, by embracing feedback in all its forms.

When employees think of feedback, it’s often as something formal, like part of an annual review or post-project evaluation. Feedback happens in lots of different ways though — like sharing a thumbs up on a Slack message, leaving a comment on a Google Doc, or expressing thanks at a virtual town hall meeting.

Here are some tools and tactics to promote feedback within your company culture: 

  • Check in with each team member to ask how they prefer to receive feedback to create a more personalized experience
  • Revamp your annual review process to focus more on feedback from all areas
  • Create a section in your company or team meetings for praise and celebrations
  • Have a defined, formal feedback process for serious matters
  • Encourage people to be generous with emojis and comments in chat apps like Slack
  • Run anonymous surveys to collect opinions on your company culture
  • Invest in engagement tools like Polly or Simplepoll to help you run more engaging polls
  • Give your team members access to support and tools to help them handle negative feedback

Encourage people to offer and receive employee feedback openly and generously. Welcome honest comments, and find new ways to shout out about people’s successes. The goal is to recognize challenges and address them, and also to celebrate where people have done something amazing.

11. Empower people to own what they do

People want to feel like they’re doing meaningful work, that they make a difference, and that they have control and ownership over what they do. If your culture doesn’t already promote empowerment and ownership, now is the time to consider introducing it as a theme. 

Giving your employees autonomy over their daily workload and the projects they work on helps create a sense of belonging, confidence, and trust. When you empower your team members to make decisions and take ownership, they’re more excited and motivated to create success. 

Here’s how to empower your team members and give them greater ownership: 

  • Give your team members the autonomy to decide their own schedule
  • Empower managers to make decisions that reflect their team’s needs
  • Honor every team member’s contribution to a project
  • Create opportunities for people to contribute their expertise to projects
  • Allow employees time to pursue mini company projects that they have a personal interest in

Build a great company culture where your team members have a comfortable level of autonomy and ownership. Let people make decisions based on their needs and expertise, and trust in their knowledge. Not only does this help create a better employee experience, it also removes some of the pressure on your senior team — giving them more time to focus on leadership.

12. Focus on employee recognition and appreciation

Your coworkers want to feel valued and appreciated, especially if they’ve done a great job or made an amazing contribution to a project. One of the best ways to do this consistently is to embrace employee appreciation as a core theme within your company culture.

Showing your team members that you appreciate their hard work creates a happy employee moment, but it’s also great for business — 79% of workers say that recognition makes them work harder.

Here are some fun ways you can embrace employee appreciation in the workplace: 

Employee appreciation can happen in lots of different ways. Take inspiration from this list to create a shortlist, and share it with your team to see which ideas and employee appreciation gifts they’d be most excited to add to your culture. Once you have your final list, use Hoppier as an easy way to send rewards and virtual gifts to your team members.

Real world example: ADP

With COVID-19 making it impossible to gather for an in-person retreat, ADP found a creative way to reward employees.

We worked with ADP to add a selection of event-based experiences as rewards that their employees could choose from. People could watch live broadway shows and virtual concerts from home, with their friends and family. This is a great example of how you can use Hoppier as part of an entire, employee-focused reward experience. 

Create a culture of appreciation with Hoppier

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to change your company culture for the better is to prioritize employee appreciation. It’s a powerful way to make people feel welcome, appreciated, and motivated to continue doing amazing work. 

We know how important employee appreciation is. That’s why we built Hoppier — a platform that makes it easy for you to send virtual gifts and create engaging hybrid experiences, by sending virtual credit cards to your team members. 

Wherever your employees are in the world, you can use Hoppier to send them a virtual card as an employee appreciation gift, virtual reward, or credit to spend on catering for a virtual event or experience. 

Surprise your team members with a $50 balance to spend on a cozy night in, with Netflix, Spotify, and local restaurants as featured vendors. Set up a program to send a card to your team members every month with $25 that they can spend on wellness services like Calm, Headspace, and Better Help. 

There are so many creative ways you can use Hoppier to deliver a more engaging company culture experience for the people you work with. Get inspired by some of the ideas above, ask your coworkers for their suggestions, and put together a package of events, experiences, and gifts that you’re excited about. 

Invest in your company culture today

An organization’s culture is often made up of those small moments that happen without us noticing. A thoughtful feedback note from a manager, a thank you gift from the CEO, or a recognition for an incredible idea for a project. 

Help make it easier to recognize and celebrate those moments with tools like Hoppier. Our platform gives you a simple way to send employee appreciation gifts and create more engaging virtual or hybrid experiences. See how Hoppier can support your employee rewards program today.

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