Great office culture is so much more than cool promotional items and catered team lunches (though that can certainly be a part of it). It takes work to create and maintain a good workplace culture and, over time, it can decline if you’re not actively cultivating it.
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If you’re feeling like your workplace culture could use a refresh, or maybe an entire overhaul, then check out this guide of seven tips to revive your office culture:
1. Look out for warning signs
Usually there will be some warning signs that your organization’s culture could use a refresher. High employee turnover and reduced productivity are two of them, and they can be quantified easily. Dissatisfaction among both workers and customers are also another sign that your company culture might be faltering. If you notice these trends popping up, don’t dismiss them. Instead, dig deeper to see what might be causing them and if they are related to your company culture or not.
The earlier you spot these warning signs, the easier it will be to make a cultural change that sticks.
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2. Get your employee’s opinions
Don’t let the workplace culture change only come from the top down; employees should also be involved in it from the bottom up. Get your HR department to create an anonymous survey where employees can help identify behaviors they are noticing in the office. You might be surprised what people have to say, especially when it’s anonymous — many people feel more comfortable speaking up when their identity is protected (and their job isn’t on the line).
The survey will likely contain a lot of multiple choice or ranked questions, but be sure to offer at least a few freeform text boxes so they can type up their thoughts as well.
3. Identify common patterns
Once the survey results are in, you can sort through the feedback to identify overarching problems. If multiple people in different departments mention a lack of communication or ambiguous expectations, then that’s a hint that such behaviors are baked into company culture. There might be a few complaints that you can throw out as outliers. For the most part, you’ll probably find it easy to sort the data into larger buckets that you can tackle one at a time. These larger themes will set your priorities for changing your company culture over time.
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4. Figure out the root cause (or people)
Once you’ve determined what the overarching issues are, it’s time to figure out what’s causing them. Sometimes the obstacle will be logistical or administrative: For example, teams not being able to communicate because each department uses its own internal messaging system. Other times the cause isn’t a process, but rather a person or people, such as one particular boss giving employees conflicting information about what their responsibilities are (or worse, harassing or intimidating subordinates).
In some cases, the fix will be as simple as rolling out a new tool or having clarifying conversations with certain employees. In other cases, you might need to take more serious measures, such as letting certain people go.
5. Adapt to a virtual world
In some cases you don’t need to revive your company culture because of negative problems, but rather because of a huge shift to a new remote work environment. If all or part of your workforce has recently gone virtual, then you have probably already figured out that in-person company culture can’t be transferred online seamlessly.
Even if you meet up once or twice a year for big events, such as the end of year holiday party, your team can no longer gather in the kitchen with their custom coffee mugs for an impromptu chat or have other casual interactions that play a major role in office culture.
As you work through the other steps on this list, think about how you can adapt your office culture to virtual gatherings. For instance, if your teams have a lot of camaraderie, then regular virtual happy hours might be a hit.
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6. Determine what positive traits you want to uplift
Reviving your workplace culture isn’t only about what negative traits you want to remove: You also need to think about what positive qualities you want to uphold. Maybe your employees have excellent camaraderie with each other, or a reputation for great customer service, or a very communicative dynamic.
If you’re not sure what your company does well, then look back at the survey to see what your business ranked well on. Odds are that you will have some positive trends to accompany the negative patterns. You can look to these positive qualities as a model for how to address the not-so-great patterns at your workplace.
7. Be transparent
Many company leaders struggle with transparency, keeping the bulk of their workforce in the dark until the next big project is ready to be announced. While this might make sense for sensitive client work, when it comes to altering your company culture, you want your employees to be part of it at every step of the way.
Communicate regular updates about what steps HR is taking to make changes to the company culture. Get as many employees from as many demographics and departments involved in the committees as you can so that you have input at every level of the organization. After all, if you feel you can’t be transparent about the positive changes you are making, then that in itself might be a warning sign.
Reviving workplace culture takes more effort than simply ordering some gifts for office staff, but it’s so worth it in the end. Whether your office culture is on life support or could just use a little sprucing up, follow this seven-step guide to revive your workplace culture.