How to Change the Culture of Your Workplace

businesswoman frustrated in front of computer

Workplace culture is increasingly recognized as a vital aspect of successful businesses. Indeed, it has become a key focus for employees and job seekers, particularly in the current environment. A lack of worker respect, minimal flexibility, overwork, and too few benefits are all cited as influencers of the Great Resignation. Each of these components tend to have clear connections to how strong and supportive a company’s culture is.

It’s no wonder, then, that many companies are looking at making improvements. However, this isn’t always something that’s easy to achieve. Some leaders aren’t clear on where the key cultural issues are. Others are unsure about how to make meaningful changes that are sustainable in the long term. Not to mention that if you aren’t consistent in your approach, you can see your efforts fall apart relatively quickly.

So, let’s explore how to change the culture of your workplace.

Why Would You Need to Change?

Culture has the ability to impact various areas of your business. As such, the decision to make changes shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, there are some key indicators that your culture is no longer fit for purpose.   

These include:

Cultural inconsistency

If there is inconsistency within your company culture, you’ll often find it is not as effective or positive as it should be. This inconsistency can come in a range of forms. There may be inconsistency of core values that influence all aspects of operations. There may be inconsistencies in the application of key cultural tenets across departments or company sites. Your culture may also benefit different demographics of staff members with varied consistency. If this exists in your business, it may be a sign change is in order.

Unethical behavior

Strong ethics both influence and are influenced by positive company culture. When there are repeated instances of unethical behavior, this can signify that something needs to change on a cultural basis. These unethical practices may be present at different levels of the organization. It may be the actions of individual staff members and leadership. It could be the methods departments use to achieve success, such as greenwashing in marketing departments. When these types of issues arise, it tends to be a clear sign that there is a fundamental weakness in your cultural standards. 

Lack of diversity

Consistency is a vital part of any culture, but one area a business shouldn’t aim for consistency is in the demographics of its staff members. When there is little diversity in your organization, this can be a reason to make cultural changes. This is because it may indicate that your culture is not inclusive enough or doesn’t provide adequate support for a diverse workforce. The result of this cultural weakness is that either your business is failing to attract a wider range of staff or it struggles to retain them. In either case, a thorough reassessment of your organizational culture is needed.

Listen First

Before you can make meaningful changes in your organization’s culture, it’s important to better understand the issues that contribute to the need for change. This enables you to make more targeted alterations that are most appropriate to your business. Importantly, it gives you the intelligence you need to tailor your approach in a way that ensures consistency and can be sustained throughout your company’s lifespan.

Perhaps your most important resource for information about the culture of your company is from your workforce itself. Your employees are likely to be more intimately acquainted with the reality of your culture than any member of leadership. They understand the problems and hurdles because they live with them every day. Indeed, they’re likely to have some good ideas about potential solutions. As such, it’s vital to gain intelligence by issuing employee experience surveys.

You can also assess data on other aspects that can be signs of weaknesses in your company culture. Clear drops in productivity can suggest that your culture doesn’t support your employees to perform at their best. Dysfunctional turnover can signify that you have a culture that doesn’t provide employees with work satisfaction or a positive experience. Inconsistencies in engagement, results, and ethics can also highlight that your culture isn’t providing a solid foundation for your operations.

Prioritize Consistency

One of the most important focuses for any change of culture in the workplace is consistency. Why? Well, firstly it helps to eliminate any sense of confusion about what drives your business. Your employees and other stakeholders all understand what is important in the organization and how these elements contribute to a positive workplace. Alongside this, consistency bolsters trust in your organization. A strong culture gives employees and consumers confidence that they can rely on your business to hold true to its core values. You’ll also find that cultural consistency impacts who you attract to your organization. Clear standards are likely to bring employees and partners that share in these and are keen to contribute accordingly.   

As such, when you’re planning the change process, there should be a commitment to keeping consistency a priority in your culture. Gather heads of department in all areas and involve them in establishing the key values and priorities and how these are applied throughout company activities. This engagement in the change process helps to ensure all leaders have a clear understanding of the vision and direction for the culture. It can also bolster buy-in to these principles and methods, which contributes to ensuring they’re applied consistently throughout the organization.

Set the Standards

For any change of culture to be impactful, your business needs to set clear standards for all your stakeholders. When there is clarity and consistency here, there is a greater opportunity for effective adoption and maintenance.

Outline the cultural behavioral standards clearly in the employee handbook. During the onboarding process, human resources (HR) staff or direct managers should take the time to draw attention to the cultural elements. Make communicating the importance of these standards a key part of all training processes, including how they form a part of each type of task. Even team and project meetings should be facilitated to reflect the core cultural standards. Remember, culture isn’t a series of surface measures, it has to run throughout every part of your business.

For your culture to be truly consistent throughout your organization, your cultural standards also need to be communicated to others interacting with your business. Visitors, contractors, and vendors need to be provided with information that outlines your key cultural tenets and expectations for their behavior when in your office. It can also be useful to include information about cultural elements on the careers section of your website. When your messaging about your standards is visible and consistent, there is little room for misunderstandings and missteps to be made.

Wrapping Up

Making changes to your workplace culture may be necessary, but it’s vital to approach the process carefully. Take the time to understand the key reasons to make alterations and assess the presence of these among your workforce. Remember that consistency should always be a priority, as this helps to ensure strong foundations, trust in your organization, and widespread buy-in. Cultural change is never an easy process and it deserves time and investment to get it right. With the right tools and a dedicated approach, there are opportunities for all your stakeholders to benefit from a more supportive and positive culture.