Although it will come as no surprise to most HR managers, employers, and employees, research shows that happy workers are more productive and effective at their jobs.

So what’s the best way to achieve this?

As it turns out, one of the biggest markers of happiness in the workplace is not a higher salary or more vacation time, but a positive company culture. In companies with strong cultures, employees report higher levels of satisfaction and greater loyalty. Studies also show that positive work cultures inspire creativity and promote teamwork.

But how do you go about building a positive company culture in the first place? Here are five of the most important characteristics of a strong company culture.

 

  1. A clear vision

In order to build a strong company culture, you must first know what your company’s vision and core values are. When a company’s vision is well-defined and its values are clear, it’s easier to attract employees that will be a good fit and help the company advance towards its goals.

Company values and vision should be clearly articulated and communicated to all employees. Mission and vision statements describe a company’s purpose or the problems it’s trying to solve.

For example, LinkedIn’s mission statement is “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” The BBC’s mission statement is “To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”

In addition to a mission statement, every company should have a values statement that outlines its core values and can be used to uphold professional standards, and guide employee decisions. When creating a values statement, consider the conduct you would like your employees to uphold as well as the values that guide your company’s operations.

 

  1. A focus on employee engagement

Companies with a strong culture tend to focus on employee engagement. Engaged employees go the extra mile rather than doing the bare minimum and generally feel more fulfilled and committed to helping the company reach its goals.

Research shows a clear correlation between employee engagement and job performance, and businesses with engaged employees see higher customer satisfaction, less employee absenteeism, lower employee turnover rates and greater profitability.  

Some of the factors that have been shown to influence employee engagement include providing opportunities for meaningful work, getting employees involved in the development and progress of the company, and offering company perks that improve overall happiness.

 

  1. Open communication and feedback

Another thing that companies with strong cultures have in common is an emphasis on open communication and feedback. Making sure every voice is heard helps employees feel like they are part of the process and encourages meaningful dialogue between managers and employees.

Research shows that highly engaged companies are more likely to communicate openly through team meetings, one-on-one meetings between managers and employees, employee surveys, and performance reviews or conversations.

You can help your employees feel comfortable communicating openly by providing and asking for constructive feedback on a regular basis. In this way, feedback becomes a routine part of your everyday operations rather than a rare occurrence.

 

  1. Investment in employee development

One of the most important characteristics of a positive company culture is an investment in employee development and training. Research by IBM found that when employees were provided with career support and advancement opportunities, they were more engaged with their work and less likely to look for work elsewhere.

Companies with a strong learning culture also find it easier to attract top talent. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that’s willing to invest in their career development?

 

  1. Strong social connections

Fostering strong social connections in the workplace is another way to improve employee happiness and fulfillment. One survey found that 62 percent of employees believe that being friends with co-workers outside the workplace has a positive impact on their productivity.

Other studies show that employees with friends or social connections at work tend to be happier, more engaged and more loyal. Positive social connections can also help to reduce sickness, depression, and feelings of stress in the workplace.

So what can you do to build camaraderie and promote teamwork in the workplace? Encouraging open communication is a great start, but things like team lunches, outings or even off-site retreats can give employees a chance socialize outside the workplace and develop closer social ties.