Team culture and values: four steps to a healthy and happy culture

Spark Business Blog Starting a small business Team culture and values: four steps to a healthy and happy culture

Running a business can be challenging. There are plenty of times when the workload can feel overwhelming and motivation runs thin. The reality of running a business means there are times when you face relational challenges. When the pressure sets in and fault lines surface, a healthy team culture and strong business values will maximise your staff’s satisfaction and performance. Whatever stage of business you’re in, it’s important to invest in the right type of workplace culture. Start by identifying the values and practices that should stay and those that should go with these four steps to creating a healthy team culture:

1. Build a culture that grows people not just products

It’s your people that are your greatest asset and naturally, great people will produce great work. But when tasks get busy and time runs short, it can be easy to focus on commercial objectives and neglect professional development. We’re all guilty of it.

Make it a priority to create a workplace culture that promotes upskilling and professional development, even when it gets busy. The best teams will have dedicated time and resource for professional development so they know that when the going gets tough, the business is still committed to their professional growth.

But, it’s easier said than done. 

Growing a culture of personal and professional growth requires support from business leaders. With access to online learning and training platforms, it’s easier than ever for employers to fuel professional growth and career progression. Don’t forget, businesses will almost always benefit when employees learn new skillsets and new ways of thinking. When staff are developed and equipped to make decisions that benefit the wider team, the business as a whole is strengthened.

Don’t forget: Empower individuals to set their own goals and whether it’s a personal or professional milestone, make an effort to celebrate the achievements along the way.

man and women working together as a team looking at a whiteboard

Read more: We’re strong believers that professional development can help your business. Here’s why.

2. Celebrate the relationships

A healthy and happy workplace culture can be impacted by the quality of relationships formed at work. When people in a team are authentic and sincere, it becomes easier to collaborate and work together. A positive workplace culture should have staff excited to work together. Make it a priority to get to know the individuals in your workplace and team beyond a task-based capacity.

Create a safe space for your employees to share their strengths and weaknesses, observing how relationships can organically encourage staff to rely on and support one another. As a business, confidently knowing the working dynamics of your team can minimise friction and distraction to boost productivity and workplace happiness. By observing people’s differing work styles, you can better interact and engage with them in the workplace.

Here are some quick ways you can shift your focus from operations to individuals:

  • Birthdays: Whether it’s a small cake or team email, a simple ‘happy birthday’ can go a long way.
  • Nicknames: Ask if an employee has a preferred nickname and make use of the informality to accelerate friendly banter in the office.
  • Events: Make it a quarterly habit to kick back and relax together with team building events, social outings or a well-deserved bar tab.
birthday cakes to improve team culture

Try: Show your staff you care with personalised business stationery or Christmas cards that bring your company’s culture to life.  

3. Be open about the hiccups

When we set out to make a positive impact on the workplace and its culture, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way.

A happy and healthy workplace culture is not always formed during peaks or moments in the spotlight, rather, culture is very much shaped in the way a workplace responds to challenging moments. Every mistake or stressful period is an opportunity to mould your workplace culture – when mistakes happen, choose to be honest, and learn from them.

Challenging situations are an opportunity to uncover learnings that are far more impactful than simply correcting an error. Making an example of an employee after a mistake only breeds fear and secrecy, which can stifle any sense of collaboration or creativity. Ultimately, actions will speak louder than words – encourage openness and real change by acknowledging the challenges and taking practical steps to make a meaningful difference. Rather than demanding improvement, work together to reach the best outcomes through honest dialogue, mutual respect and practical goals to work towards.

man and woman having coffee building workplace relationships

Tip: You don’t have to wait for a mistake or problem to occur to exercise accountability. Be proactive by developing a habit of providing your staff with constructive feedback and regular check-ins.

4. Be consistent

The most effective path towards a healthy culture is to lead by example. Businesses that fail to live out their values can quickly damage the culture they’ve worked so hard to build. It’s not only about defining cultural values, it’s about living them day in and day out.

It takes consistent application and advocacy to bring a business’ values to life. Make a conscious effort to integrate culture and values into all areas of the business – including hiring, operations or administration. Most importantly, create consistency across the business by ensuring the entire team is aware of the workplace’s cultural values. As values are being created, prevent a top-down approach by inviting all stakeholders to get involved in the process of deciding what should stay and what should go. When teams progress on this journey together, employees transform from participants to key advocates in the adoption of a workplace’s culture.

Investing in a healthy workplace culture takes time and effort. When businesses are proactive in the way they progress their staff, champion honesty and foster consistency, a happy and healthy culture is the natural outcome. Make it your next goal to assess your current culture and build a workplace environment that prioritises people to boost business productivity and staff retention in the long haul.

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