A Healthy Workplace: Culture Matters

In continuing our series to identify items needed in making the workplace a healthy environment, we are tackling culture today. Company culture is essentially defined by the people working at the company; how they treat one another, how they align with company goals and values, and how those factors are played out in their everyday lives.

If you are like the average American, you probably spend more time interacting with the people you work with at your company than your actual family. Making your community at work a positive and successful place is just as important as the one you work to foster at home.

Here are some tips from human resource and culture pros to get started.

A connected team is a happy team

Get your team talking! It’s important to open the lines of communication across your entire organization—from the CEO to the person at the front desk. Keep the communication lines flowing with group projects, round-table discussions and team collaborations. Allow time for employees to develop relationships, think more strategically and problem solve together. 

Collaborate with key employees from different departments sharing how their work is impacted both upstream and downstream in the process. Often, employees do not know how their work impacts others outside of their silo. Consider an employee engagement survey (anonymous), and then openly share and discuss the results as a team. Provide a suggestion box or email your employees for recommendations to help kick off discussions.  

And last, but not least, provide opportunities for company-sponsored social events where employees can get together outside of the office. There is nothing like free food and entertainment to encourage people to socialize and get to know one another in a casual “no work zone.”

Engaged and motivated employees are more successful

A survey by Deloitte showed that 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success. You can help create motivated and engaged employees by 1) treating everyone equally, 2) having clear goals that they can work toward and 3) having a transparent policy for progression and promotion with measurable performance indicators clearly defined. When goals are positively reinforced and achievements are recognized and celebrated, it leads to employees feeling valued, which in turn creates a positive feeling in the workplace.

While, unsurprisingly, raises in pay and cash bonuses remain the standard for employee recognition and rewards, there are other ways to show appreciation and reap the benefits of more engaged and motivated employees.

Personalized rewards

According to the website Microsoft Business Hub, tailoring your rewards to the individual employee’s tastes can have a major impact. For example, if you know someone enjoys golf, give them a Friday afternoon off with paid green fees at their favorite golf course; free movie tickets for your movie buffs; or a day pass to the local water park or zoo for an employee with children.  Personalizing is anything that demonstrates you know your employees and have chosen their reward thoughtfully.


We all love to have our name called. Take the time to publicly recognize your employees who do an outstanding job of reaching their goals. There are endless ways to recognize your employees and help create a culture of acknowledgement: peer-to-peer recognition; handwritten thank-you notes; on-the-spot recognition; designated parking spots; e-cards; service anniversary awards; posting employee achievements on bulletin boards or your website; or recognizing their achievement at the weekly staff luncheon. And you may get the added bonus of motivating others to achieve more so that they can receive recognition as well! 


According to Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan of FlatWorldKnowledge.com, organizations such as Trader Joe’s have found that giving employees autonomy in their decision making can boost motivation. Allow leeway whenever possible to give employees the opportunity to bring their opinion to the table and/or simply make decisions that directly affect their project, department, or area of expertise. People feel valued when they are allowed the autonomy to make decisions without “supervisor” approval at every turn.  


The opportunities to reinvigorate your workplace culture are truly endless and limited only by an unwillingness to explore the possibilities. I know of both large and small companies transforming their cultures with great outcomes. Contact me if you want assistance in reaching your culture goals: I first recommend reading The Healthy Workplace Nudge by Rex Miller.