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7 Key Ingredients for a Healthy Workplace Culture

The best companies have realized that their culture is the most important metric for long-term success. When people love coming to work, feel heard, and take ownership, it results in higher satisfaction and fosters more innovation and productivity. But defining “culture” can still feel a bit fuzzy. With all the talk these days, we thought we would compile the seven key pieces to defining and strengthening your company culture. 


I feel like I know the people here. I understand who they are. I respect them.

Connection is crucial for a healthy company culture because it fosters a sense of community and respect among employees. When people feel they know their colleagues personally, it can create a more collaborative and supportive work environment. When employees connect well with their coworkers, they are more likely to value each other’s unique perspectives, strengths, and weaknesses, which can lead to more effective problem-solving and decision-making. By creating a workplace where connection is valued, employees are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled in their work and less likely to experience burnout or disengagement. A strong sense of connection can help create a workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to do their best work.


I feel like people know me and are genuinely interested in me.

If “connection” is how well someone knows the people at their work, “belonging” is how well they feel known. Belonging creates a sense of inclusion and acceptance among employees. When individuals feel like they are part of a community and their contributions are valued, it can increase their motivation and engagement at work. When people feel like they belong, they are more likely to be open and collaborative, leading to better teamwork and more effective problem-solving. Creating a culture of belonging also means prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion and ensuring that all employees feel respected and valued regardless of their background or identity. By fostering a sense of belonging, organizations can create a more positive and supportive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to do their best work.


I feel like my contributions matter, and I help to solve meaningful problems.

Ownership is crucial for a healthy company culture because it gives employees a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. When employees feel their contributions matter and that they are making a meaningful impact, it can increase their motivation and engagement. “Ownership” happens when people stop working for you and start working with you to make a bigger impact. Creating a culture of ownership also means empowering employees to take the initiative and make decisions rather than relying on top-down directives. By encouraging a sense of ownership, organizations can create a workplace culture where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to take a more active role in the success of their company. 


I feel like I have the freedom to go about my work the way I prefer.

Autonomy allows employees to work in a way that suits their strengths and preferences. When individuals feel they have control over their work and the ability to make decisions, it can increase their motivation and engagement. In addition, autonomy can lead to more innovative and creative problem-solving, as employees are able to approach challenges from their unique perspectives and experiences. Creating a culture of autonomy also means trusting employees to make decisions and take responsibility for their work rather than micromanaging or imposing strict rules and procedures. There is an important learning curve with any position, and early on a clear, directive approach is often necessary. But finding the sweet spot between how much instruction and how much freedom an individual can be trusted with is where vibrant autonomy can flourish, producing some of the best work. 


I feel like this is a place where I’m challenged to grow and reach my potential.

When individuals are pushed out of their comfort zone and given opportunities to learn and develop new skills, it can increase their motivation and engagement. People long to work in a place where they can continue to stretch and grow their experiences and skills. Burnout and dropout often occur when work has felt stagnated for too long. Creating a culture of challenge also means providing employees with opportunities for growth and development, such as training, mentorship, or stretch assignments. If you expect your people to accept challenges, offering the training and mentorship is important to help them thrive. A culture of challenge will help people approach their work as an adventure and foster even greater ownership and productivity. 


I feel like I can make mistakes here and won’t be in trouble.

Psychological safety is present when employees feel safe to take risks and make mistakes. People need to feel like they can speak up, share their opinions, and make mistakes without fear of retribution. At its core, psychological safety is the feeling that “The people here have my back.” Employees want to know that their supervisors and coworkers are on their side, even when disagreements are inevitable. Creating a culture of psychological safety also means prioritizing empathy and respect and ensuring that all employees feel heard and valued. Leaders that foster psychological safety create a workplace culture where employees feel supported, empowered, and motivated to do their best work.


I feel like we are up to something together that requires all of our effort and contributions.

Having a clear mission is critical for a healthy company culture because it creates a sense of purpose and direction among employees. When I talk about challenge, I want my current work to be stimulating and interesting. But beyond that, I also want a sense of purpose that is bigger than the immediate tasks on my plate. Great leaders can share their organization's mission in compelling ways and ensure their people have the tools and resources they need to contribute effectively. 

Reflecting on these seven ingredients will help you identify and strengthen the culture at your company. How is your company culture fostering connection, belonging, ownership, autonomy, challenge, psychological safety, and mission? Spend time with each ingredient on this list and ask yourself: 

  • Do our employees feel connected to each other and to the organization? 
  • Do they feel a sense of ownership over their work? 
  • Do they have the autonomy to do their best work? 
  • Are we providing them the resources and support they need to tackle challenges and reach their potential? 

Perhaps now you’re wishing there was a simple and effective way to assess and grow your workplace culture into the kind of company described above. At Instill, we created the world’s first Culture Operating System™ that leverages AI to help you lead your organization to greater health. We’d love to set up a demo today to show you how we can strengthen your greatest asset, your culture.

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