8 Ways to Change Your Workplace Culture

A business meeting with people fist bumping at a table.

Policies, procedures, audits, and reform. All can relate to the culture in your workplace. However, this tends to be a less tangible aspect of your company. Certainly, every business has one where policies have been adopted to align with employee goals and organizational structure. While there can be statutes and mandates that encourage behavioural norms in employees, these may feel like empty words lacking action rather than the inspiration your team needs. 

More and more talented individuals are seeking workplaces that foster an environment where they can thrive. A culture change in the workplace is a popular maneuver but needs to be met with real change to be effective. Changing organizational culture has direct and indirect impacts and stretches to encompass all employees and, by extension, customers and clients. Are you wondering how to influence a culture change or where to start? In this post, we’ll discover ways that you can make it possible.

1. Influence a Movement over Implementing a Mandate

Mandates do not command the attention needed to impact culture. Instead, corporate businesses need to foster a movement that engages and interests employees. Those passionate about change can use their influence to spark others, helping a culture change movement gain steam. Once the ideals become large enough, the momentum and force cannot be stopped and open up the team to the idea of cultural reform. 

Avoid simple communication emails or urgency without purpose. Only a deep desire for change can push these ideals forward and resonate with employees on an emotional level. Collective action is needed for culture change in the workplace, no matter how big or small. Start from the ground up rather than the top down.

2. Uncover What Needs to Change — and What Doesn’t

Many organizations quickly skip ahead, focusing on what needs to be done rather than identifying what is currently working. Consistency and agility can make all the difference in the long run, so while you’re diving into the policies that just aren’t cutting it, don’t be afraid to find the ones that are effective. ⁠having such a perspective can help inspire change. 

When reviewing policies, ask yourself what should we stop, what should be continued, and what do we need to start doing. While culture is everyone’s responsibility to uphold, understanding the foundation of where strategies come from can help staff understand and demonstrate the changes you are looking for.

3. Define Your Cultural Goals

While your current policies and procedures provide a framework for your business and its internal workings, consider the bigger picture. What does the next step look like, and how will we achieve it? Culture can seem subjective, especially if you are attempting a large-scale change with little insight. Open your mindset to other perspectives, or perhaps bring in a third-party auditor. A fresh idea can help you understand what you are working towards and the attitude and behaviours needed to get there. An employee survey might help you and staff. Ask questions like:

  • What part of this company makes you proud to work here?
  • If you could change something about the business, what would it be?
  • How could decisions be made more effectively?
  • Is there room to improve how people give and receive feedback?
  • If you were recommending this workplace to a friend, how would you describe it?

These answers will provide thoughtful and personal insight into how employees feel about their workplace culture. It will also impassion them to look at a culture change in a new way. Look for consistencies, and begin to define goals based on the information available to you.

4. Use Communication as a Tool

Highlighting existing workplace culture during the onboarding process or through an email is not enough to ingrain its significance to your business. Think beyond these parameters into how employees can be made to feel how change is more than words on paper or repetitive phrases. A campaign that reinforces messaging and expectations might be a good place to start. This will show employees how their position and responsibilities can support the organization beyond day-to-day tasks. Additionally, you might consider giving your employees a space to contribute their voices on what is being met and what isn’t. Teamwork makes the dream work, and for it to work, you need your employees to truly engage in culture reform. 

5. Align Your Culture with Your Brand

When thinking about how to change corporate culture, the answer should extend beyond your endeavours and focus on your business’s impact as a whole. Clients and customers are keen to recognize an imbalance or gap in a workplace that lacks an emphasis on culture. Consider how you communicate and market yourself to prospective clients and how that can align with what you are trying to do within your organization. Practice what you preach, and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to culture as it relates to your brand.

6. Recognize Employees Who Demonstrate Cultural Values

It can be easy to focus on the big picture and align your goals and objectives with in-depth processes that are only achievable over time. While these can be helpful to a fault, examples of cultural changes and influence may already be apparent. Take the time to celebrate and acknowledge those quick wins. This meaningful moment will carry beyond and reinforce an ideal culture and behavioural norm. When considering how to approach this, support balance over a “whatever it takes” mentality, such as an employee taking time and effort with tasks that could be pushed aside or demonstrating a cultural value within a team meeting. 

7. Create a Space for Employees to Recognize Each Other

Executive recognition has its place, but it’s also important for employees to be able to lift one another up. They should be able to showcase how they make lives easier and create a safe space for one another. Perhaps this could include a yearly awards ceremony that allows employees to vote for their colleagues. However, daily affirmations and feedback can further create an ideal space for cultural change. Regardless of a formal program or reward system, this effort will enhance the employee experience and the importance of recognizing the actions of others, thus weaving cultural change.

8. Measure Changes

Significant shifts in culture can come with mixed reviews and immeasurable results. Dedicate time to being able to quantify what you want to see qualitatively. This doesn’t have to be extensive or another task to add to the workweek. It could be as simple as a monthly survey to gauge touchpoints that are working and those that aren’t. Finding these gaps can help you improve culture further and determine the efforts that are proving effective. The use of an ethics hotline could be another way to assess progress. 

As your list of enacting cultural changes grows, it may sometimes feel overwhelming. Perhaps you’ll face setbacks and be forced to go back to the drawing board for more ideas on how to change corporate culture. It is a journey rather than a destination, something that always needs to work to prove effective. Your commitment to influencing that change and driving the need for it creates a catalyst that will prove vital to your company. Our team can help to turn your ideas into actions, starting a movement through policies and discussions that can spark a culture change. Contact us today to learn how we can help.