Culture

How A Supportive Company Culture Can Reduce Turnover And Help Your Team Flourish

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How A Supportive Company Culture Can Reduce Turnover And Help Your Team Flourish
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How A Supportive Company Culture Can Reduce Turnover And Help Your Team Flourish

Building a supportive company culture that genuinely makes a team feel safe and valued is one of the biggest challenges facing the workforce today. The COVID-19 pandemic has permitted employees to examine what they truly value from their employer and what options are possible if they no longer feel appreciated.

An estimated 4 million people left their jobs in July 2021 with that number steadily increasing since then (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics). According to the Harvard Business Review, the resignation rate is higher among mid-career employees between the ages of 30-45. Although there may be other factors contributing to the “Great Resignation” amongst this particular cohort, more and more have discovered that workplace culture holds significant influence when it comes to engagement, motivation, and retention.

To create a supportive company culture where everyone on the team feels included, safe, and encouraged to use their unique abilities and perform at their best, we must first examine what it truly means to have this type of positive work environment.

What does it mean to have a supportive company culture?

Having a supportive company culture is more than just the words embedded into a company’s mission statement.

Fostering this type of environment requires intentional action from everyone within the organization, a vision the whole team can rally behind, a code of conduct that reflects honest beliefs and the essential philosophies the company holds to, and a continuous drive to learn from each other and grow as a unified team.

In other words, the company must have a set of core values they truly believe in. They must operate within these values and reflect them in their attitude and work product. It isn’t enough to haphazardly throw around the phrase, “We promote and encourage a supportive workplace culture” in recruitment-related efforts or internal company communications. Prospective and current employees can feel when it lacks sincerity. To have a truly supportive company culture, this sentiment must be felt, acted upon, and realized. It starts with the leaders and managers and trickles down to everybody else.

Everyone on the team needs to not only see the vision but also be moved by it in order to work towards the company’s goals. Employees must feel valued and recognized in their work efforts to be able to continuously contribute to the objectives. And the team must be supportive of each other, which means celebrating wins and problem-solving mishaps together in equal measure: with a positive and collaborative attitude.

Don't have a supportive company culture

What Happens When You Don’t Have A Supportive Company Culture?

What would happen if our work environment lacked these essential elements and became a toxic culture? We now understand what a supportive company culture should look like and how it should operate, but it’s just as important to recognize the symptoms of an unhealthy environment in order to decipher what changes are needed to improve the situation.

Here are just some of the red flags to look out for that suggest an unsupportive company culture may exist:

  • Constant gossip and drama. While drama and gossip can feel nearly unavoidable in teams composed of vastly different personalities and levels of experience…but the difference is when the drama is constant and the gossip insistent. It dampens the teams’ perspectives of one another and could eventually lead to workplace bullying if not dealt with appropriately. Communication is often laced with passive-aggressive comments, negative body language, and unwillingness to fully collaborate. If an individual comes to work thinking what drama will be going on this time, it’s one of the most glaring signs of a toxic work environment.
  • High turnover. Employees leave their positions for a number of reasons, but experiencing high turnover means a constant revolving door of new employees and seasoned team members leaving more frequently for better opportunities. According to SHRM, nearly one in five employees that left their job in the past five years stated that culture was the reason why. Not only is high turnover a hit on morale, but it can cost companies upwards of $223 billion in recruitment efforts, wages, and labor.
  • No participation. An unsupportive company culture usually suggests that most people on the team are feeling burnt out, anxious, or even depressed about their situation. In other words, everyone is in a bad mood and is likely to approach different scenarios at work with a poor attitude. For example, let’s take a team that’s struggling with workplace culture and examine their weekly Friday meetings. After any important updates are disclosed, the director tries to bring the team closer together by asking what their weekend plans might be. Instead of generating smiles and alleviating some of the formality behind a team check-in, the question is met with an awkward, heavy silence. No one wants to speak or divulge what their personal plans are, and conversely, no one is particularly interested in hearing about it. When the team feels low energy, unenthusiastic, and less motivated to participate in even basic meetings, this is a red flag.
  • Fear. A supportive company culture promotes psychological safety — the belief that you will not get punished or humiliated for making mistakes, asking questions, or being in disagreement. When people are fearful of having different ideas or clarifying questions, their growth is stunted as employees and ultimately lessens their potential to be truly innovative. A persistent fear of making a mistake at work can also lead to the team not taking accountability and developing the habit of rampant finger-pointing.

All these symptoms together can work against the supportive company culture that you’re trying to cultivate.

Workplace Culture Impacts

What Impacts Workplace Culture?

To understand how to create a supportive company culture, we must also examine the building blocks that make up this particular environment:

  • Leadership/Management – Cultivating a workplace of positivity starts at the top. Leaders must reflect their values in everything they do such as their communication (verbal, nonverbal, and written), interactions, decision-making, recognition, and relationship-building. Leaders and management must earn the trust of their team in order to carry out the company’s objectives.
  • Core values – This is the code that a company lives by and must be carried out in all workplace practices, policies, and philosophies. Core values are the cornerstones that reveal where the company is headed and how they’ll get to its destination together. They’re authentic, deeply ingrained, and aspirational principles that can create true alignment within a team.
  • People – It’s all about the people you bring onboard your team. While we want to have the best talent and experience on our roster, it’s important to not forget about other factors that can heavily impact a team’s success. These are called soft skills and include behaviors such as problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking, communication, and time management. For example, you can hire a candidate with a huge amount of technical skill, but over the course of time, it becomes apparent that they lack any interpersonal skills such as timely responses in their communication. This can create miscommunication for all those involved and add to any existing tension within the team. Sometimes the value of a person’s soft skills, beliefs, and personality may outweigh the need for a more experienced candidate.
  • Physical EnvironmentIn a study about the influence of the physical work environment on employees, it has been shown that the conditions of the workplace environment such as noise, temperature, and lighting have a direct impact on productivity and concentration. This is an extra layer that must be accounted for in order to have a supportive company culture. What does the office look like? How are common areas being used? Is there plenty of meeting space? Is it conducive to the work they’re doing? The work environment should encourage the team to perform to the best of their ability, which includes giving them the resources they need in order for their jobs to be done effectively. This is especially true with a large number of employees preferring a fully remote or hybrid work schedule.
  • Communication –  Having a collaborative form of communication is an essential part of having a supportive company culture. Leaders who communicate frequently with their teams, include them in their decision-making, and use meetings with careful purpose and intention are cultivating a work environment that shows their employees how much they are valued. When individuals feel like they can communicate with their colleagues and managers, they are more likely to feel empowered to collaborate.

Understanding how these pillars of a healthy workplace fit together can help you create a supportive company culture.

Create A Supportive Company Culture

How To Create A Supportive Company Culture

  • Revisit the mission statement. Think about how mission statements are usually created. Several people are brought into a room and asked to come up with a few ideas that will eventually be simplified into a single statement intended to align the entire business. Everyone then votes on their favorite. But do your people truly believe it? The mission statement needs to get everyone on board to see what comes next. Does it truly reflect the company’s values? Is one sentence enough? Are people excited about it? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when you revisit the statement. You might even find yourself wanting to create a true vision for the company that everyone can get behind.
  • Practice workplace empathy. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve relationships and encourage high performance. Having empathy in the workplace means you can identify someone else’s feelings and practice compassion during the good times and the bad. Empathy is becoming an essential soft skill in leadership positions, especially with the reverberating effects of the pandemic. It’s about the connections you build and the safety you create. If people feel cared for, they are likely to reciprocate with loyalty and motivation to get their job done and go even above and beyond their normal essential functions.
  • Build trust. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees at companies that are considered “high-trust” report 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity, and 40% less burnout. Basically, trust in the workplace matters. If your team trusts each other, the collaboration will be easier, work will get done quicker, and respect amongst peers will be higher. To cultivate a positive employee experience that retains your top performers, foster a work environment built on trust.
  • Encourage regular, honest feedback. Employees want to be heard. They want to know that their feedback matters, and that it’s important enough that action will be taken. Without a proper cycle of feedback, the company may not know what’s not working or what needs to be changed in order to foster an employee’s growth. It’s not always easy to provide honest feedback, particularly if things aren’t going well or if there are ongoing issues. This type of discussion needs a safe, inclusive space that encourages productive feedback. As a result, the team will feel more satisfied that their voices were heard.

Work-life balance

  • Prioritize work-life balance. Work-life balance is an important part of having a supportive workplace culture as this can prevent the possibility of burnout due to long or odd working hours. Increased responsibilities as a result of poor work delegation can leave even the best employees feeling depleted and resentful. It’s essential to establish this balance for health and to increase overall engagement. When the team is given the time to reset and return to their work with a fresh perspective, you’ll see a drastic improvement in the quality. The team will also be more likely to stay with a company that values a work-life balance.

Build A Supportive Company Culture That Members Are Proud To Be A Part Of

Positive work culture is built on the foundation of trust and respect. To truly support one another in a way that encourages collaboration and improves the quality of the work product, we must foster an environment that elevates everyone, sets them up for success, and practices genuine empathy.

Use these techniques in the workplace to build a supportive company culture you can be proud of.

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