Places like Apple, Google, and Facebook didn’t just wake up and call themselves one of 2016’s “Best Places to Work”… they earned it. While compensation, leadership, and several other factors contributed to overall satisfaction among employees at these companies, it’s no secret that great culture is a characteristic they all share.
Google offices (Amsterdam location pictured here) are known for their aesthetically-pleasing environments.
According to research by Deloitte University Press, “87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 percent call the problem ‘very important.’” Culture has become a buzzword in the workplace, and employers are no longer able to turn a blind eye.
What Is Culture?
Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts about culture is that it’s difficult to define. Each employer—and even each individual—has their own idea of what it means.
Forbes defines culture as “the set of behaviors, values, artifacts, reward systems, and rituals that make up your organization. You can ‘feel’ culture when you visit a company, because it is often evident in people’s behavior, enthusiasm, and the space itself.”
That definition alone helps outline just how complicated culture is. Components of culture can range from workplace flexibility to team-building activities and even something as surface-level as office aesthetics.
Top 4 Ways To Improve Workplace Culture
If you find your corporate culture lacking, consider implementing these culture trends:
1. Spruce Up The Workplace
Not only does a little paint add flair to the workplace, but—depending on the color chosen—it also has the scientifically proven ability to motivate employees. Sterile, white walls lead employees to boredom, while green can spark creativity. Pink has a calming effect. Adding color, inspirational decor, and other aesthetically pleasing changes may be just the thing that increases productivity. (In fact, adding plants to the workplace alone can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.)
2. Offer Flexibility in Schedules
Whether it’s the option to telecommute or simply step out of the office for a haircut, employees today are looking for flexibility. Years ago it may have been the norm to remain glued to your office chair from 8 AM to 5 PM, but today, that’s no longer the case. Employees are increasingly more involved in community events, their children’s activities, and other obligations during the workday. According to U.S. News, if offered schedule flexibility, 82 percent of employees said they would be more loyal to the company, 87 percent said it would lower stress levels, and 76 percent said they would be more productive.
3. Encourage Group Activity (And Acknowledge Hard Work)
To create a more holistic workplace, many companies have used group activities as a part of their culture initiative to encourage team building. Whether it’s a team potluck, a brown paper bag session about health and fitness, or simply a group challenge, there are many easy ways to encourage interaction amongst employees.
To encourage participation, consider offering a prize drawing for those who attend. Incentives can go a long way. They can also be used to create a positive, appreciative corporate culture. Recognizing and rewarding employees of the month, creating a brag board for accomplishments, or implementing one of hundreds of other ideas for employee appreciation is proven to keep employees motivated and happy at work.
4. Consider Allowing Office Pets
While this one might be a stretch for most employers, it sure isn’t a stretch for some. According to a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 8 percent of employers allow pets in the workplace.
A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management outlined the benefits of pets in the workplace. The study revealed that employees who brought their pets to work were significantly less stressed by the end of the day than those who did not (or those who had no pets).
Entrepreneur suggests that before allowing pets, an employer should outline acceptable and unacceptable pet behavior and ensure there is a pet-free area in the office for those with allergies.
Ultimately, in order to ensure growth and profit, employers must constantly be on the search for top talent that will greatly contribute to achieving company-wide goals. But what can set one company apart from the rest? Culture. If pay and benefits are equally matched, it may be your employee appreciation, job flexibility, and inspirational environment that lands you the next rising star.