10 ways to improve company culture

10 Powerful Ways to Make Your Company Culture Thrive

May 14, 2024

The culture of your workplace is the foundation for everything your company does. It directly impacts your team's happiness, well-being, productivity, and more.

What’s the most important ingredient necessary for an incredible company culture? Leadership. Specifically, servant leadership that focuses on the team.

But that's just the first step.

Here are 10 specific ideas you can implement to make your company culture thrive. At Blue Compass, we've used these to build a culture that wins national awards for workplace culture.

Company Culture Tip #10 - Give Individualized Appreciation

We all love to be appreciated. We want to know what we're doing matters, but not all appreciation is equal.

My years spent leading people have made one thing very clear: appreciating people globally is less effective than individualized appreciation.

In his book, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, author Gary Chapman explains that there are five unique types of appreciation that you can bestow on others, and everyone has their preference.

For instance, some people feel most appreciated when words of affirmation are used. If you compliment or write a card for this type of person, the impact is deep and meaningful. Others feel more appreciated through acts of service, while others prefer tangible gifts.

Leaders who determine which type of acknowledgment resonates most with each of their team members have a powerful, positive impact on their workplace culture.

One way we do this is through our company Intranet. Each team member has a bio page that lists how they prefer to be appreciated. Additionally, it has a list of their favorite things, such as favorite breakfast food, restaurant, coffee, sports teams, etc. It makes it extremely easy for anyone in our office to appreciate a team member in an impactful way.

Company Culture Tip #9 - Have Regular Team Member Shout-outs

Speaking of appreciation, one incredibly effective tactic we've discovered is public shout-outs. When we have team meetings, we always take time to go around and give people praise for specific things they've recently done.

For instance, someone may say, "I want to give a shout-out to Jay for helping me on the most recent website launch. He was so encouraging and acted as a constant resource for me." Then, the entire team claps for Jay.

It's always fun to watch our new team members experience this public praise. New employees nearly always tell us it's the most positive meeting they've ever experienced.

team member shout outs

Company Culture Tip #8 - Play Games Together

You can't have a truly successful team without strong relationships. You can't have strong relationships without bonding. And one of the best ways to bond is to have fun together.

We are very purposeful about planning game times for our team members. At our team meetings, for instance, we'll play a massive game of Pictionary or trivia. Our Digital Marketing department plays a different daily game together each month.

Whether it's virtually or in person, find a way to play games together. Raise the stakes and give the winners rewards like gift cards. Have people you wish would work better together? Pair them in teams and watch them bond.

team laughing and celebrating together

Company Culture Tip #7 - Provide Transparency for Your Team

It's essential to provide your team members with a sense of what's going on. The best organizations provide clear updates on how things are going, what’s coming in the future and how leaders are feeling.

We use our one-on-one manager/employee meetings and our company-wide meetings as opportunities to be transparent. In fact, we're so transparent we reveal all of our financials to everyone. We show slides of how profitable our company was in the last quarter, who our top clients are, what percentage of our revenue they bring in, etc. In our intranet, any team member can view all the invoices that have been sent out and see how much we've accumulated each month.

Many leaders are hesitant to provide this level of transparency. They’re worried sharing all that financial information will cause employees to demand a raise when things are going well and look for another job when things are going poorly. Perhaps that’s the case in some instances, but we've never had a problem with that. People are smart; they can come to those conclusions regardless of how much transparency you have with your financials.

Of course, revealing all your financials isn’t necessary for a great company culture. But, consider ways to be more transparent with your team. They want to be included and in the know. 

work culture book

Company Culture Tip #6 - Have Your Team Members Eat Together

There's something special about breaking bread together. Eating with your team promotes conversation, laughter and bonding. Whether it's just a few employees, a department, or the entire company, find times for your team to eat together.

While our team frequently eats lunch together, our favorite meals are monthly birthday/anniversary lunches. We cater a meal into our cafe, eat together, then celebrate the birthdays and work anniversaries of the month. If a new team member is with us, we’ll have each person introduce the team member to their left and share an interesting fact or two about him or her.

We occasionally have lunches in small groups of about a half dozen team members. Often, we'll put people who don’t work together directly together. Each group gets to pick a restaurant from which we order lunch and is given a number of entertaining questions to answer together.

Even if your team is hybrid or virtual, have a lunch hour together and chat, it really brings people together.

team teaming together to enhance company culture

Company Culture Tip #5 - Have Regular One-on-One Meetings

Ensure frequent one-on-one meetings are occurring between your team members and their managers. It's an important time for both parties to listen to each other, express compliments or concerns and build a stronger relationship.

It’s especially important that the manager listens. The manager should ask what's going on, how the employee is feeling, and what the biggest struggle is.

Don't skip the one-on-one. Do it regularly; at least once every two weeks. The communication and transparency this generates will greatly benefit your organization.

Company Culture Tip #4 - Provide Growth Opportunities for Team Members

Whether they realize it or not, everyone wants to grow and get better. There's something about personal development that makes us happy and fulfilled.

How can your organization be more purposeful about helping your team members grow?

At Blue Compass, we have regular department meetings in which all team members will share something they learned over the past couple of weeks. We budget for webinars, lunch-and-learns and conferences to help our team grow. We’ll also feature regular book clubs in which we discuss thought-provoking books.

Of course, the personal growth of your team members isn’t just beneficial for them, it’s beneficial for your organization as well. “Better results come from being a better person,” motivational speaker and leadership expert Jim Rohn once said. “The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.”

Learning can increase motivation, improve confidence, boost creativity, and help provide a sense of direction. It brings incredibly positive outcomes for both the employee and the company.

team celebrating together

Company Culture Tip #3 - Ask Your Team for Feedback

“One of the biggest communication problems we have today is most people listen to reply not to understand,” according to author Stephen R. Covey. Indeed, the best leaders are listeners.

Our organization has become famous for not having doors on our offices. That may seem odd, but we want everyone to feel comfortable coming to our leadership team. It’s not just an open-door policy, it’s a no-door policy. Everyone's ideas are worth listening to.

If you can create a culture where people know that they have a voice, you’ll have a better workplace where the team feels at ease.

office with a no door policy

Company Culture Tip #2 - Celebrate Successes

This tip may seem simple, but many companies miss the opportunity to celebrate their wins.

When your company gains a new client, launches a successful project, meets a quarterly goal, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it. A huge, expensive party isn’t necessary. Your celebration could be a congratulatory email, a verbal shout-out, or a “wine and cheese, o-clock.”

When you celebrate successes, it instills the value of those successes in your team members.

There are so many workplaces that try to find people doing things wrong. Be the workplace that finds people doing things right. Why? Because you get more of what you focus on.

workplace celebrating

Company Culture Tip #1 - Have Visible Core Company Values

The most important thing that you can do to craft an incredible company culture is embrace clear, visible company values.

As the CEO of our company, I've learned over the years that my number one purpose is to make our values known to our team members, to live them out myself, and to help them do the same.

There is great strength in deciding what your organization stands for and holding fast to these principles. Well-thought-out values give your team guideposts by which to conduct themselves each day. Establishing clear guidelines helps remove the confusion that may creep into day-to-day activities. Core values are the foundation of a positive culture.

Here are the Blue Compass values: 

core company values

As past CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh says, "Your personal core values define who you are, and a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny." Indeed, your organization’s core values will determine its attitude, trajectory and, ultimately, destiny.

But, your values must be clearly visible. Our values are on the wall, in our intranet, in our new business proposals, in our presentations and meetings. Whenever we have a company-wide meeting, we run through each of our values, then we'll give a team member a shout-out for fulfilling that value over the last month.

Craft a culture where everyone knows and loves the core values. Hire by them, fire by them, and live by them.

I hope you found this list helpful. If you’d like more guidance, check out my book RETAIN: How to Craft an Incredible Company Culture That No One Wants to Leave.

Looking for a company culture keynote speaker for your event? Reach out to me and I'll be glad to help.