How To Fix and Improve Culture At Your Company

When we first embarked on our 2014 Employee Engagement & Organizational Culture Study, I wasn’t sure what findings we’d encounter. With increasing discussion in the business press around engagement and its strong links to financial performance, it seemed like a no-brainer that leaders would be jumping on opportunities to better engage their employees. After all, who doesn’t want a stronger bottom line?

Turns out, I was wrong. When we reviewed the data, we found some fairly sobering results:

  • Nearly 2 in 3 employees do not feel they have a strong work culture

  • Nearly half of all employees are dissatisfied with their direct supervisor

  • 66% of all employees do not see strong opportunities for professional growth in their current role

  • Over 25% do not feel they have the tools to be successful in their job

  • Only 21% feel strongly valued at work

If you’re a business leader like me, these results should scare you. Given that engagement is tightly linked to revenue growth, retention, and on-the-job creativity, these lackluster engagement stats tell me our organizations are consistently underperforming.


Thankfully, our findings were not all doom and gloom. The real silver lining shines through via colleagues and work peers:

  • 44% of employees will give each other peer recognition…when they have an easy tool to do so

  • Peers are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile.

Anyone that thinks money is a strong motivator or that employees really don’t care about engaging with their peers is wrong. It’s this knowledge that leads gives us a tangible approach to fixing the problem.

Start asking questions

Do you ever stop to ask your employees how happy, frustrated, or burnt out they are? Do you have any idea how they feel about their professional opportunities, training, or access to resources? The sad truth is that most managers don’t. It isn’t for lack of caring, but rather for lack of having a tool to ask in an effective way.

I strongly recommend leveraging anonymous survey tools to start asking. You could use TINYpulse or a host of other online survey solutions. It isn’t until you solicit feedback that you will know your employees’ pain points and your cultural weaknesses. So just start asking.

Make “fit” a major piece of your hiring process

Any hiring manager knows the challenge of filling a much-needed role. When a highly skilled candidate sits down for an interview, it is so tempting to want to give them an offer. But if you’re not also assessing them for fit, you could be shooting yourself and your organization in the foot.

Peers play an incredibly strong role in motivating each other and offering recognition and appreciation. If you fail to hire for individuals that embrace these traits, you won’t get them. And the end result will be a far less rewarding environment that disengages your workers. It may take longer to find the right candidate in the short term, but your long-term business performance will improve because of it.

The process isn’t easy. And it won’t be fast. It can take up to a year before the changes you start implementing really impact your organization’s culture. That time horizon might sound daunting. But being out of business because you failed to invest in your culture while your competitors did should sound even worse.

About the Author: David Niu is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and author of Careercation: Trading Briefcase for Suitcase to Find Entrepreneurial Happiness. His current product, TINYpulse, helps hundreds of organizations like Hubspot, OxFam, and GSK get a pulse on how happy, frustrated, and burnt out their employees are before retention sinks and issues fester.

How To Fix and Improve Culture At Your Company