In 2019, just before the pandemic hit, SHRM released a report about toxic workplace culture, which leads to billions of dollars in turnover costs each year.
Of course, tracking how employees feel about the company culture can often feel like an impossible task and a moving target—one that's made even more complicated by remote and hybrid workers.
Below, we dig deeper into this topic by discussing the following:
- What exactly is workplace culture?
- What impact does workplace culture have?
- What can organizations do to improve their workplace culture?
What is workplace culture and why does it matter?
Indeed has a great definition: "Work culture is a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment . . . Your attitude, work-life balance, growth opportunities and job satisfaction all depend on the culture of your workplace."
Workplace culture matters not only to employees, but also to the company since it can have a profound effect on productivity, recruitment, and even public perception. As Gallup notes, "Great cultures leverage their organization's unique mission, purpose and values to strengthen their identity, inspire their employees and deliver on their brand promise to customers. It's what sets you apart from the competition."
What impact does workplace culture have?
In an article titled "Toxic Culture is Driving the Great Resignation," MIT Sloan Management Review reports that toxic workplace culture is the biggest predictor of employee turnover. In fact, it's ten times more important than an employee's salary.
(Note: compensation and other perks do still matter, as this report goes into. So you don't want to ignore them. Instead, take a holistic view.)
On the flip side, Quantum Workplace reports that "employees who say their culture is positive are 3.8x more likely to be engaged."
- 86% of job seekers say culture is somewhat or very important.
- Companies with good corporate culture report 4X higher revenues.
- Disengaged employees cost companies 18% of their annual salary.
How to improve workplace culture
So what can organizations do to improve their workplace culture? Follow these tips.
1. Before you can improve it, you must define what it looks like in your organization.
Every organization's workplace culture will be different. You must define your organization's goals, values, and practices. Here's a good article on the steps needed to define and evaluate your organization's corporate culture.
⮚ PRO TIP: A company's culture isn't a static thing. Just as people evolve, the culture will need to evolve as well. For example, many organizations' cultures changed during and after the pandemic as employees continued to work from home.
2. Leaders must embrace the corporate culture—and encourage everyone else to embrace it as well.
A good place to start is by laying a stake in the ground regarding your company’s mission and values. You can highlight both on your website as well as recruitment materials. Quantum Workplace notes that "54% of employees experience culture through the company’s mission and values."
Everyone, particularly the C-suite and management, must embrace and embody the corporate culture. Otherwise, it's just meaningless talk.
So, for example, if your company touts work-life balance and "family first," the manager of your sales team shouldn't be giving a sales rep a hard time for taking a few hours off one Wednesday afternoon to watch their kid's softball game. In fact, the manager should set a good example by occasionally taking a couple of hours of personal family time during a typical workday to show employees that it's OK to do exactly that.
⮚ PRO TIP: Don't add things to your corporate culture simply to sound contemporary, particularly if you don't plan on walking the walk. A good example is unlimited time off policies. At first blush, they sound enticing, but what the heck do they mean? Unless it's clearly articulated—and unless people are encouraged to take the time and DO take the time off—these can become problematic. (Check out what happened when Netflix instituted its unlimited vacation policy.)
3. HR managers and recruiters must clearly articulate the corporate culture in job postings.
Your job posting is often the first piece of communication a job candidate will see from your company. Make sure it sounds like the company and that it reflects the vibe and culture. (Candidates are savvy—they know where to look for reviews on companies, like Glassdoor. And they will look.)
⮚ PRO TIP: Make sure you have a robust Careers section on your site that discusses the corporate culture. This can help candidates self-qualify. For example, if your company boasts collaboration as an important part of the in-person workplace culture, someone who is more introverted and prefers working solo might think twice before applying. Or if they do apply, they'll at least have some sense of what they're getting into.
4. Consider how your background check process can help assess whether candidates would be a good fit for your company culture.
Running background checks, like criminal history checks and verifications, is simply good business sense. Depending on the position and the industry, you might run (or be required to run) additional checks, like MVRs and drug tests.
But those checks only tell you so much, like a candidate’s criminal history and whether they have the requisite experience. How do you get to know a person's character so you can decide if they'd fit into your workplace culture?
An organization can assess a candidate's character in many ways, including through interview questions or assessment tests. However, these can be time-consuming and costly, especially when considering multiple candidates across many job openings.
A more efficient and cost-effective way is through a compliant social media background check that flags problematic behavior online, such as the following:
- Hate speech
- Political speech
- Insults and bullying
- Obscene language
- Sexual impropriety
- Threads of violence
- Toxic language
- Drug-related images
- Violent images/racy images
The keyword here is "compliant." A compliant social media background always gets the appropriate permission from candidates and redacts protected class information that could open up the organization to an EEOC violation or lawsuit.
By the way, social media monitoring doesn't only pick up negatives. You can also find positives, like the fact the candidate raised a record amount for the Pan-Mass challenge last year—which is the type of info that can be extremely telling about a person's character or that the person might fit in well with your organization that gives employees time off for volunteer initiatives.
⮚ PRO TIP: Ongoing social media monitoring is an excellent way to keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening in the workplace. Monitor for toxic behaviors as they simmer so you can address them head-on rather than having to clean up after they've boiled over.
Need help with your screening options so you can hire better culture fits for your organization?
Improve your workplace culture and decrease turnover costs by hiring candidates who will be a good fit for your workplace culture. Good Egg can help by customizing a screening package that makes sense for your organization, from pre-employment background checks to ongoing monitoring. Get in touch and let's discuss your screening needs.