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How can you improve company culture?

This blog is part of a series based on a conversation with two of our in-house experts on company culture. Kelly McLuckie, Customer Culture and Transformation Manager, and Dave Jackson, Customer and Industry Relationship Manager, discuss what company culture is, why it matters and how to improve it.

Changing or improving your workplace culture can be simple if you approach it in the right way. Leadership is the critical element when managers and senior staff must ‘live’ the company’s culture, showing by example the behaviours and attitudes they want to see.

It’s also important to communicate with your team. Regular conversations, messages and updates will help keep values and goals aligned, and create a collaborative environment where everyone feels they can make an important contribution.

With the above in mind, here are ten things you can do to create a healthy workplace culture:

  1. Articulate the values, attitudes and behaviours that matter to your business
  2. Measure and monitor your culture over time
  3. Reward the behaviours you want to see more of (and don’t tolerate the behaviours you don’t)
  4. Involve your people in creating your culture
  5. Demonstrate that you value your culture and keep it visible over time
  6. Invest in leadership skills
  7. Make sure people (not only leaders) are role modelling
  8. Act with consistency to reinforce your culture
  9. Talk to your peers in other companies
  10. Talk to an expert if you want advice or assistance

How can you measure your progress?

It’s difficult to find hard metrics to measure your culture and how it’s changing. But several indicators will show your progress. You can look at workplace statistics, such as how many days since an accident or injury, or how many days lost due to unplanned incidents. Things will always go wrong from time to time, but as your culture improves, these numbers should improve.

Turnover is another key measure. “Low staff turnover is an indicator of a strong workplace culture,” Kelly says. “If you notice that you’re losing a lot of people from one particular depot or team, then you can do some checks to see if there’s a problem you need to address.”

Similarly, you can also look at workers compensation costs, which should drop as your culture improves – and so too for unplanned maintenance and insurance claims.

You even can install fatigue monitoring devices in your trucks – to demonstrate your commitment to safety – but you need to do it in the right way. We know of at least one company where the owner put a unit in his car, to show he wasn’t asking his drivers to put up with anything he wasn’t willing to use himself. Your drivers must understand they’re there to improve their safety, not to monitor and maybe penalise them.

Misconceptions about company culture

Many misconceptions can get in the way of creating a strong company culture, and they can arise from any part of the business.

From management, it would typically be that ‘I don’t have time for this’, but the reverse is true: the more you invest in your culture, the more you’ll be free to concentrate on building your business. It gives you time back because you won’t be so caught up in the day-to-day – you’ll be able to trust that everyone’s doing the right thing.

From the drivers’ side, it would be that ‘it’s just another way for management to keep an eye on me’, or that ‘it doesn’t matter or relate to me’.

Dave reckons that’s flat-out wrong. “In fact, you might say it matters to drivers more than anyone else, because they’re out there on the road, by themselves, so often,” he says. “They need the confidence and the reassurance that the organisation cares about them, that someone’s got their back.”

With a good culture, someone will – do you?