How to Create an Intentional Workplace Culture

In the workplace, unleashing potential does not require a dramatic increase to pay, perks, or benefits. And it’s not about hiring and developing superstars. Sure, all of those can produce short-term results. But they’re expensive — and not necessarily effective.


From our research, we find employee engagement increases when employees feel safe and connected. Here are three essential steps to help craft a winning workplace culture:

1. Take an employee-centric approach

Consider the employees and how business decisions affect them. Relationships are critical, including an employee’s relationships with their work, their team, their manager, the organization, and senior leadership. Top Workplaces put employees at the center of all communications about business results and new initiatives. Employees hear news about the company before it hits the newsstands.

2. Build trust and connect at scale

Build a culture of trust by removing the perception of threats. Build a sense of inclusion. Employees need to feel safe highlighting concerns to senior leadership.

In smaller companies, leaders can be effective at building trust and communicating effectively. The challenge comes as the team grows. Connect at scale with open, two-way communication where employees feel safe and can form meaningful connections across the organization.

Clearly communicate values and reinforce them. Use direct communication between upper-level managers and ground-level employees so senior management knows what’s going on.

3. Adopt a coaching mindset

The relationship between employee and manager is critical. Managers focus on matching employees’ skills and interests and the work, while also mapping out the long-term development of members of their team.

Successful organizations proactively manage culture. Engaged employees meet personal goals while serving organizational needs. These practices will propel your organization to success.

Doug Claffey is founder of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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