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6 min read

16 Ideas to Elevate your Organizational Culture from Good to Great

Clay Walsh

Last Updated: 1 March 2023

In this article:

Four-day work weeks, paid vacations, flexible work timings, and connecting with each employee to gather their genuine feelings. You have probably tried every trick in the book to forge an inclusive organizational culture that keeps your employees happy. Some of it may have worked, while others may have failed.

HR leaders like you invest a lot of effort and money to build a conducive organizational culture. But to create one, first, let's understand what an organizational culture is.

What is an organizational culture?

The beliefs, values, ethics, and expectations of your company's employees make up your organizational culture. It defines the ideal employee behavior and how they should interact within the organization. It also reveals the leaders' and employees' expectations, experiences, and philosophies that affect the company's business growth.

Organizational structure, top leadership, mission, vision, and business strategy shape your company's work culture. It determines how you run the business.

You can express organizational culture through:

  • Daily business functions
  • Employee management and customer service
  • Level of freedom for decision-making given to employees
  • Information flow to employees and customers
  • Your employee’s commitment level to customers

A work environment driven by organizational culture benefits you in many ways. Here are the top six advantages.

Advantages of a strong organizational culture for your entreprise

1. Higher employee engagement

Organizational culture gives your company direction and sets the expectations for daily performance, which, in turn, helps engage your employees better.

2. Lower turnover

Employees are more likely to stay with you if your company values employee beliefs and expectations. Such workplaces enjoy higher job satisfaction and lower employee turnover.

3. Improved productivity

A strong culture structures the organization so employees can best use their skillset, which benefits the business and promotes their growth. For example, employees who are good at customer interaction are put together in customer-facing profiles like sales or customer support.

4. Enhanced brand image

Your company's culture can build or ruin your brand image. A weak employer brand can be detrimental to business growth. A company with a positive culture is a magnet for candidates and customers.

5. Better team bonding

Streamlined workflows and decision-making processes brought about by a positive organizational culture drive away ambiguity. Employees know their roles and expectations well and are motivated to perform better. Such clarity strengthens team bonds and drives high-performance standards.

6. Efficient onboarding

Organizational culture promotes proven onboarding practices, including well-planned orientation, training sessions, and performance management programs. This will assist new employees in settling down smoothly in your company.

Creating an organizational culture can be challenging. These tips can help you do it effectively.

How to create a healthy organizational culture?

  1. Define. Determine organizational values and create a company mission that aligns with the complete hierarchy.
  2. Teach. Train your managers and employees on implementing the mission statement and creating a culture conducive to open communication.
  3. Implement. Culture is built with your actions, not just words. Use your mission and value statements to inculcate a sense of belonging and forge a solid cultural foundation.
  4. Measure. Evaluate the success of culture and values. Your employees will be key in gauging how well culture has been forged in your organization.
  5. Reward. Remember to appreciate and highlight the performers if you witness organizational culture seep into your work environment the way you want.

Every organization has its own unique culture. Your focus on creating, collaborating, controlling, or competing decides the organizational culture.

Let's take a look.

Understanding the various approaches to organizational culture

1. Hierarchical Culture

Here, you focus on control. This culture promotes adherence to policies and procedures. The pursuit of efficiency and consistency in all business functions is a priority here. Leaders of such a company focus on organized problem-solving and process control for business growth. 

Many government organizations, political setups, military, churches, and big financial corporations like Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs exhibit a hierarchical culture.

2. Clan Culture

If you are an advocate of camaraderie and a family-like environment at the workplace, or collaboration, you would want a clan culture. Your employees are friendly, respect each other, and are dedicated to their work. You act as their mentor rather than a leader. You promote team bonding and an inclusive work culture and value loyalty.

Since the focus is on building a home-like atmosphere, your HR department has a critical role in business functions. You strive to make open and smooth communication a company-wide practice and forge a collaborative and flexible work environment.

Google and Zappos are great examples of promoting clan culture.

3. Market Culture

Here, the focus is on competing. You, the leaders, draw motivation from what your competitors are doing and use it to encourage your employees too. Your employees aim to achieve the set targets. You measure your business success through revenue metrics and stock market results.

Amazon and Apple display a market culture driven by business results.

4. Adhocracy Culture

This culture pushes your employees to adapt and innovate to create the best products. The work environment is driven by creativity. As a model leader, you are always on your toes, looking for the next big creation before the others get an idea. That's why you inculcate risk-seeking behavior in your workforce and encourage them to experiment to develop new products.

The success metric is your ability to identify market needs and create solutions accordingly. Spotify is an excellent example of such a culture. Its cross-functional teams, called Squads, together manage all business functions. They aim to be as creative as possible and complete the work efficiently.

If things are not going your way, maybe it is time to relook into your organizational culture and identify the loopholes. Here's what you can do.

Cultivating a healthy organizational culture: Strategies for overcoming dysfunction

To change your work culture, first, you need to identify what's wrong. Here are the top ten signs of a dysfunctional organizational culture.

9 signs of a dysfunctional culture

  1. Lack of camaraderie among leadership
  2. Healthy debate and candor are discouraged
  3. High employee churn rate
  4. Low employee engagement score
  5. Unclear mission, vision, values, or ethics.
  6. Non-transparent decision-making
  7. Resistance to any discussions on culture
  8. Employees don't feel comfortable reporting incidents or sharing bad news
  9. A beg-borrow-steal attitude of managers to get their employees to achieve their targets

 If you can spot any of these signs in your company, here's what you can do to combat the situation.

Strategies for changing a dysfunctional culture

Speaking about the power of listening, Sunil Setlur, ex-CPO, Gajek, shares, "Listening is not just about asking people and then forgetting about it. It's also about closing loops."

But there is more you can do as an HR Leader to change a dysfunctional culture. Here are some proven measures.

  • Identify any cultural misfits while onboarding and take immediate corrective action.
  • Understand what's happening on the ground in all business functions to identify weak links.
  • Mingle with your employees one-on-one to gather their honest feedback, or let an AI chatbot like Amber do the work for you.
  • Aim for cultural intervention to become a brand rather than just a label. Here's how John Jacobs achieved that.
  • Keep tabs on external feedback, including organizational reviews on platforms like Glassdoor.

You can take these steps as part of the top management or the board:

  • Always keep the culture as part of the board meeting agenda.
  • Get in-depth information about corporate culture.
  • Identify any cultural issues while onboarding a leader in the C-suite.
  • Make sure your compensation packages promote corporate culture and encourage appropriate employee behavior.
  • Review compliance and whistle-blower reports regularly.
  • Examine comprehensive data from employee surveys and feedback, just like Genpact did.
  • Use culture as a decisive factor in all recruitment at the board level.
  • Assess succession planning for senior executives.

 A labor-intensive industry like healthcare provides some great insights into organizational culture. Let's take a look.

Organizational Culture in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations are known to harbor multiple cultures that drive their operations. But culture often drives the healthcare scandals that rock the industry now and then.

Three levels of organizational culture shape the healthcare industry's business functions and overall disposition.

1. Evident manifestations

Organizational culture shapes the structure here as well. Evidence of healthcare culture includes:

  • Services and roles of service organizations
  • Physical locations of facilities
  • Established policies and procedures
  • Staffing and daily rosters
  • Distinguishing between employee groups as per their activities
  • Dress code
  • Reward schemes
  • Local traditions to support such practices

2. Shared thinking

These include the values and beliefs that validate and execute the evident manifestations. Examples of shared thinking are current opinions on patient care, thoughts on evidence for medical action, and an outlook for safety, clinical performance, service improvement, and quality procedures.

3. Shared assumptions

They refer to the unassessed keystones of daily healthcare operations like appropriate professional roles and behavior, expectations for patients' and caretakers' knowledge, and assumptions about the healthcare professionals' capacity and power in the organization.

Implementing an organizational culture brings many benefits to a healthcare service provider. Here are the top benefits.

The benefits of a healthy organizational culture in healthcare

A healthier environment benefits the people who take care of the patients. A healthcare organization with a solid corporate culture experiences some of these benefits.

  • Deeper mutual respect and trust between the patients and your organization
  • An inclusive work environment
  • Improved employee participation in health issues
  • More efficient patient and preventive care
  • Smoother patient information collection
  • Lesser medical errors and legal expenses
  • More cost savings
  • Lower number of missed medical visits
  • Encourages different perspectives in decision-making

Over 75% of employees flee from an organization that doesn't have a culture or harbors a poor one. Because a company with a weak organizational culture also fails at effective employee engagement. Of the many factors, a healthy work-life balance and flexibility influence an employee's decision to quit.

The verdict is clear. The better your organizational culture, the more enhanced the employee experience, and thus lower the attrition. Our employee experience platform can assess your current position in building an inclusive organizational culture and provide an in-depth analysis of areas for improvement.

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