Creating a More Successful Culture

Numerous sources indicate that an organization’s culture impacts its ability to sustainably achieve goals and perform successfully in competitive markets. Although there is no one single formula, research identifies a mix of characteristics present in successful workplace cultures, as briefly described in this chart.

CharacteristicWhy it is important
LeadershipMore than all other forces, leadership has the greatest impact on
an organization’s culture. What leaders value and the behaviors
they model influence all employee behaviors.
MissionDefining an organization’s mission, how it impacts the community,
and how each employee contributes, vitalizes the work culture
CommunicationWhen free flowing communication exists between all levels of an
organization, it builds solidarity and breaks down silos.
TransparencyClarity of purpose and reason in decision making creates transparency,
supporting an atmosphere of trust.
DiversePurposefully seeking diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills
results in more informed decision making and enhances business
InclusiveThe benefit of a diverse workforce is maximized when there is a
commitment to inclusive practices that inspire all employees to
voluntarily contribute their best efforts.
RespectfulDisagreement and dialog is essential for strong decision making,
but must be done respectfully and without personal attacks.
AccountableEmployers who hold employees accountable for their actions will
stimulate their best efforts and counter the tendency to settle for
SafeEmployees are empowered when they feel safe to freely express
their ideas and concerns. This reduces blind spots and expands
useful information to inform actions.
Organizations that demand excellence and competence of every
employee are more likely to attract, engage and retain high performers.

Workplace cultures are driven by the interplay of these characteristics; excelling in one category while failing in another will reduce overall success. Launching efforts to challenge the status quo will likely result in resistance and even failure; when pursued purposefully and energetically, change will happen and gain momentum.

So what can HR do to lead on creating a more successful workplace culture?

  • Evaluate the organization to identify strengths and areas of opportunity.
  • Gather data on these characteristics through direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
  • Secure Leadership support by explaining why it matters and potential ROI.
  • Partner with managers to gain support, set goals and model desired behaviors.
  • Prioritize, maintain focus, continuously monitor and be flexible to adjust as needed

To inform your journey toward creating a more successful workplace culture, consider these recent additions to the Library collection:

Firms of Endearment: How world class companies profit from passion and purpose

Primed to Perform: How to build the highest performing cultures through the science of total motivation

Everybody Matters: The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family

How Google Works

The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures; Harvard Business Review Jan/ Feb 2019

Organizational Neglect: The toxic triangle of deficits; Organizational Dynamics Vol. 47

These materials are available for members to check out; contact Library@Employers for assistance. For additional resources, expertise and services to improve workplace culture, members are encouraged to reach out to Employers Council.