10+ Tips For Building a Thriving Workplace Culture in 2023

People quit because of toxic workplace cultures.

von Margherita Sgorbissa, February 1, 2023
Workplace Culture

Toxic cultures are the number one reason why people quit their job.

When people have a negative experience of company culture, such as they aren’t allowed to be their authentic selves at work, they aren’t seen or valued, or they often have to compromise their needs, they ultimately leave.

Toxic workplace culture leads to the following scenarios:

  • People quit and move to another company (with a better culture).

  • People quiet-quit (stick to performing the bare minimum).

  • People disengage and lose motivation.

  • People become frustrated, uncooperative, and discontinuous in their performances.

  • People get physically or mentally sick.

The Cost Of Toxic Cultures

Toxic workplace cultures harm both people and companies:

  • The retention rate worsens, and the turnover costs increase.

  • The performance quality drops, and the quality of delivery is affected.

  • The team morale sinks, unhappiness spreads, and a domino effect of frustration is activated.

  • The company struggles to attract and retain talent.

  • People get sick.

  • Wellbeing rate and quality of experience drop, causing a loop of absenteeism.

  • Departures cause workload and delivery disruptions.

  • Employer reputation is compromised as workplace culture is hard to brand.

Most remarkably, by overlooking the strategic role of culture, companies register tangible financial losses in turnover costs.

A report by SHRM from 2019 estimates that the cost of turnover went as far as $223 billion.

10 Tips To Build Thriving Workplace Cultures

Building or shaping workplace cultures where people can thrive isn’t about quick fixes.

Every company culture is unique. Therefore, building a thriving culture is a long-term and organic process and requires a people-centric approach.

In this article, we have collected 10 tips to help companies shape workplace cultures and build environments for people AND businesses to thrive.

0. Gather Data & Feedback

Before you start strategizing and rolling out culture-shaping initiatives, you need to have a clear overview of the current state of things in your company.

Focus on gathering data and feedback that help you get insights into the quality of your employee experience.

1. Rethink & Relaunch Your Company Values

Values are essential to your workplace culture. They inform the direction of your culture-shaping effort, offer clarity around the purpose and set the baseline for any decision and change you make.

It’s vital that companies build cultures with great clarity around the driving principles and that these principles are defined by and shared with the organization.

2. Invest in Leadership Development

Leadership is culture in action. If your company's leadership style promotes unhealthy practices, your culture is set to become toxic.

Leadership and executive teams are key strategic players in building or shaping culture.

While cultural changes are often pushed from the bottom-up, key transformations are enabled through solid leadership buy-in.

Involving leaders and executives in creating a thriving workplace culture means activating a shift at the core of a company's decision-making nerve and accelerating the transformation across the organization.

3. Focus on Experience Design

Culture is the experience people have of a given environment. To build a workplace culture that attracts and retains, you need to focus on designing outstanding experiences for people at work.

Employee experiences aren’t just about building more efficient processes, smoother collaboration and communication systems.

It’s about implementing human-centric workplace practices that aim to make them feel safe, seen, and valued both as humans and as professionals.

4. Prioritize Inclusion, Accessibility & Belonging

A thriving workplace culture is a culture that continuously engages with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Inclusion, accessibility and belonging foster safety and strengthen a sense of purpose and connection. But people only experience a sense of purpose and connection when they feel part of what they do.

For people to actively participate in the business, they need to be able to physically (and virtually!) access the workplace and the resources relevant to their job.

They need to feel seen and included and know their contribution matters regardless of their role and identity.

They need tangible opportunities to contribute, shape, and impact the business and the workplace and ultimately experience that they belong.

5. Make Wellbeing a Non-Negotiable

Cultures are toxic, where unhealthy practices are considered the norm. Unhealthy practices make people sick and ultimately quit.

To create thriving workplace cultures, companies need to make wellbeing their top priority.

Wellbeing is not offering a subscription to a meditation app or a paid company counselor. 

Building a culture of wellbeing-by-design is about rethinking company norms and cultivating practices that encourage better work-life harmony and a healthier engagement in work-related routines.

6. Add Community-Building to Your People Strategy

Engineering meaningful connections among people at work fosters a sense of purpose and unlocks the potential of diverse personalities coming together.

Community-building helps teams work better together, design more efficient governance (collaboration rules), and build solid synergies that allow teams to leverage how they perform and deliver.

Plus, in an increasingly remote and globally distributed world of work, people value quality relationships that help them grow, exchange knowledge, and feel more connected with diverse personalities at work.

7. Provide Hybrid or Remote Working Options (Don’t Force On-Site Presence)

The pandemic showed that hybrid or remote work settings are possible and often increase productivity and allow more flexibility and inclusivity.

An increasing number of people would rather quit their job than return to the office full-time.

Shifting toward a hybrid or remote culture (that does not force people to be in the office at any given frequency) is a step toward building inclusive, accessible, and flexible workplaces.

From an equity perspective, remote or hybrid work settings make work more accessible and help secure the livelihood of specific groups of people who otherwise may not be able to participate in the labor system (e.g., parents or other categories of caregivers, people with disabilities, neurodivergent folks, etc.)

8. Leverage the Professional Growth and Development Strategy

Growth and professional development are key culture enablers, top retention factors, and reasons for people to join and stay in a company.

If you have long overlooked it, it's time to leverage your Learning & Development culture and make it part of your people experience and retention strategy.

Employees who don't experience a solid professional development journey at work are likely to look for better opportunities elsewhere.

LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends Report highlights that job seekers consider culture a top factor in their decision to apply for a job and that career development is the number one way to improve company culture.

Another LinkedIn Report from 2018 shows that 94% of employees would have stayed longer in their last job if they had more chances for career development.

9. Create a Compensation Philosophy

Employees want to know how compensation works in the company they work for.

Compensation philosophies are relevant to workplace culture as they help create transparency in the decision-making around compensation.

Knowing the mechanisms determining the company’s approach and position on compensation helps build trust with employees.

It offers employees the opportunity to give feedback, hold the company accountable, and access the right information to better align with the philosophy (or choose not to align with it).

10. Improve Your Operational Functions

Frustration and disengagement often arise from experiencing messy and inefficient operational functions.

These are often caused by a lack of solid leadership, ownership, and accountability frameworks, where employees aren’t able to lead their tasks autonomously, or they need to spend long hours searching or waiting for the right resources.

Many companies underestimate the importance of structured collaboration and communication systems in creating a thriving culture. 

Solid operational functions set employees in the position to perform their tasks, grow their skills, and have smoother experiences in their day-to-day working routine.

BONUS: Hire an Independent Culture & Experience Expert

Last but not least: you need to build capacity for impact strategy.

Culture and experience strategies require dedicated time, brain work and energy.

If you are committed to building a thriving culture, you should avoid squeezing culture and experience improvement between a full schedule or a heavy workload.

Ad-hoc expertise, facilitation, an external perspective, and dedicated capacity best support culture and experience strategies.

At FairForce, we focus on researching the topic, designing best practices, and delivering holistic solutions to building and shaping culture and experience for workplaces that care about leading the change.

If you are ready to build thriving workplace cultures and need a trusted partner to support you in walking this path, schedule a FREE STRATEGY CALL to talk to our culture team.