Unlocking better workplace culture

And how it improves employee performance

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Monday, Jul 08, 2024

Imagine a workplace where employees are excited to come to work, feel valued, and are highly motivated to perform at their best.

This is not a dream, but a reality for organisations with a positive workplace culture.

Unlocking the full positive potential of workplace culture can lead to increased employee performance and overall business success. That's why we're taking you through the key factors influencing workplace culture and the strategies that help you create a positive work environment that fosters employee growth and satisfaction in this article.

Understanding company culture

Employee performance and overall business success are influenced by workplace culture in significant ways.

A positive workplace culture is centred around employee experience and should encourage employees to perform at their best. This makes workplace culture important in shaping your business’ values, practices, beliefs, behaviours, goals, and attitudes, which can be used to measure employee performance.

Understanding and improving your work environment requires an honest assessment of your current workplace culture and the identification of problem areas. Frequent team meetings and encouraging continual feedback within your team are effective approaches to cultivating smooth teamwork and a better work environment. Certain organisations have done this by adopting a new culture-building approach, where all personnel are held accountable for upholding a great workplace culture.

However you choose to create a positive work culture, what's undeniable is that it has become a key strategic consideration that manifests tangible effects on your bottom line.

The factors influencing workplace culture

Several factors contribute to your company’s culture, including:

  • Leadership
  • Company policies
  • Communication
  • Diversity

Let's dive into each of those four in detail.

The impact of leadership

Establishing a healthy culture and a desirable workplace hinges on effective leadership.

Employees within an organisation look to leaders for guidance and use their behaviour as an example of how they should conduct themselves. Leaders who emphasise work-life balance, maintain a positive outlook, and demonstrate respect for employees are well-positioned to foster an environment where employees feel empowered to do their best work.

Leading by example can have a considerable effect on employees and motivate them to adopt the company’s values.

Company policies and values

Leaders and employees who consistently adhere to company policies and values can positively shape your distinct corporate culture and affect employee engagement.

But this only works when your company policies are designed to enhance your employee experience. Through factors like employee recognition and flexible hours, your policies can provide employees with a sense of security and support in their roles.

Employee recognition, for example, costs nothing and can have a beneficial effect on the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of employees.

A toxic workplace culture, on the other hand, can have a detrimental impact on your business success, as it's closely linked to employee engagement. To prevent a toxic culture, leaders should strive to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Communication and collaboration

Emphasising openness and candid communication is fundamental to establishing a productive, healthy workplace culture.

Setting healthy business goals and values is just the first step. Ensuring your teams are informed of these business goals and positions is the next. Leaders can facilitate effective communication through hands-on calls and regular team meetings.

Fostering a culture that values collaboration and idea-sharing can invigorate your team, foster innovation, and enhance performance for all. Failing to provide employees with concrete feedback and specific objectives to work on will make it difficult for them to develop and progress.

Embracing diversity and ensuring equity

Cultivating a productive workplace culture, last but certainly not least, relies on diversity.

Diversity is what contributes valuable insights, concepts, and perspectives to the workplace.

While different work expectations and experiences can lead to clashes among colleagues, hiring personnel with varied backgrounds, skill sets, values, and beliefs can positively impact the atmosphere of the workplace.

There are different ways you can make sure your workplace is blocking unconscious bias and creating an environment that welcomes diversity and ensures equity for all. Some businesses may choose to request blind resumes, which blocks a candidate's demographic and personal information from hiring managers.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness courses are also important to establish your workplace values and make sure your employees are treated with respect.

Strategies for creating a positive workplace culture

Ongoing training and support for leaders and employees is a necessity for advancing cultural transformation.

To foster growth and development in the workplace, you must:

  • Establish clear goals
  • Provide necessary resources
  • Create a pleasant work atmosphere
  • Offer constructive feedback
  • Encourage an ownership mentality of the company culture

Aligning your company vision and goals

Providing a unified purpose and direction for employees, which consequently improves performance and productivity, calls for aligning your company’s vision and goals.

Establishing clear goals and expectations, offering feedback and recognition, and cultivating a collaborative and communicative atmosphere are effective methods of creating a sense of purpose and direction for employees.

Aligning company vision and goals can lead to enhanced employee engagement, heightened morale, and enhanced performance and productivity. It sets the tone for your company culture.

Employee recognition and rewards

Workplace culture recognises that the value an employee gets out of their work has to go beyond their salary or wage.

Having a system of employee recognition and rewards serves to:

  • Motivate and engage employees
  • Bolster retention and loyalty
  • Increase productivity and performance
  • Foster teamwork and collaboration
  • Contribute to employee wellbeing

Focusing on employee development

Ensuring that employees are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job duties proficiently and effectively requires a strong focus on employee development.

Continuous learning and growth opportunities can assist employees with keeping up with the most recent industry developments, best practices, and help them cultivate new abilities and ways of understanding.

This helps with better job satisfaction, performance, and job security as your employees feel valued by your business and stay loyal to your employment.

Strategies that help facilitate employee development initiatives include providing employees with access to online learning resources, offering on-the-job training, and establishing mentorship programmes. It's important to make sure that whether your workplace is hybrid, in an office, or remote—your employees see a future at your company because of the culture you maintain.

Identifying and addressing toxic workplace culture

Actively building a positive company culture is important, but it's just as critical to make sure that you're actively dispelling toxic workplace behaviours and patterns.

Identifying signs of toxic workplace culture requires you to critically review things like employee alignment, company vision and mission, employee benefits, the work environment, and the policies you maintain.

Employers can use a confidential survey tool to allow feedback from employees regarding the operations of your business. This lets your employees know that they're being heard, and helps you better understand their wants and needs. After all, your workplace culture should ultimately benefit your employees.

Transitioning to any setting can be a complex process, particularly when it involves changing behaviours and expectations that are deeply embedded in your operations. If all your stakeholders are also not on board with the change, your efforts may not yield the same results. So, it's important that you approach changing your workplace culture with care and consideration for everyone involved in the process.

Measuring and evaluating employee performance

It’s critical to assess employee performance regularly and identify areas for improvement.

When setting employee objectives, it's important to ensure that they are quantifiable and achievable, striking a balance between challenging without being too far out of reach and demotivating.

Scheduling a performance review for each of your employees gives you the opportunity to provide beneficial feedback and improve your employee’s performance. This is important, because assessing employee performance allows you to objectively evaluate individual contributions to your business' success, set up definite performance goals, monitor progress against those goals, and recognise areas for growth.

It also offers you a built-in retention tool, which helps you make sure that the objectives set for each employee are suited to their goals and bring out the best in them.

Implementing change for improved employee performance

Optimising employee performance and fostering a more positive workplace culture requires implementing changes in your workplace.

Even if you've recognised the traits of a toxic company culture, with the support of your management and HR team, you can transition to a more positive culture over time.

Successful positive workplace cultures

A successful positive workplace culture is one that is motivating, cooperative, and encouraging. It's a culture that doesn't just allow but promotes creativity and productivity in employees and appreciates their efforts.

Many point to startup culture as a structure that breaks the mould of traditional, larger organisations and promotes open communication. It's also known to encourage innovation while disregarding a formal management structure.

But that doesn't mean more that a startup culture is the most healthy and positive environment for employees, nor does it mean that a positive work environment is out of reach for more established companies. Cultivating a workspace of love and respect has been shown to result in decreased emotional fatigue and absenteeism, and increased employee collaboration and contentment. Making it well worth the investment it takes to create and maintain it.

How BrightHR can help you build a positive culture at work

A great workplace culture is the key to improved employee performance and overall business success.

By understanding the factors influencing workplace culture and implementing strategies to create a positive work environment, that avoids toxic workplace culture traits; you can build a thriving, engaged, and productive workforce.

BrightHR helps you get the best out of your employees with an end-to-end HR software solution that transforms your people management.

That includes:

BrightExchange—our free online marketplace that gives your employees access to thousands of offers and discounts on their favourite brands around the world.

BrightLearn—a learning management system that's packed with courses to build industry knowledge and soft skills in and out of the workplace.

Praise—an employee recognition platform that lets your leaders and employees send each other praise for a job well done, celebrate each other's achievements, and gamify the process with badges and praise points.

It's the practical tools you need to create and keep your positive work culture.


What is the culture of a workplace?

Workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes, and assumptions that employees in a workplace share. It forms the basis of how people interact with each other and influences the overall work environment.

How do you create a good workplace culture?

Encourage employees to bond, set clear goals and expectations, prioritise respect, promote diversity, create growth opportunities, and establish a strict zero-tolerance policy to help create a positive workplace culture.

What are the key factors influencing workplace culture?

Leadership, company policies, communication, and diversity are key factors that can set the tone for your workplace culture.

What is the role of leadership in shaping workplace culture?

Leadership plays an important role in setting the tone for employee behaviour and guiding the organisation's values, which ultimately shape the workplace culture.

How can you effectively evaluate and measure employee performance?

Employee performance can be effectively measured and evaluated by setting objectives, monitoring progress, and providing constructive feedback. This helps identify areas for growth and ultimately supports your employee's success.

Alan Price

CEO, BrightHR and Group Chief Operating Officer

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