In one word, what makes an excellent company culture? People. But, what kind of people? How do you bring out the best in your existing people? Why is it important to make your company culture great? The Harvard Business Review points out that, based on several studies, an excellent workplace culture benefits employees and their well-being and employers and the company’s bottom line.

According to Great Place to Work, company culture is “how you do what you do in the workplace,” according to Great Place to Work. It’s the combination and integration of your formal and informal values, systems, and behaviors that create an excellent experience for all involved with the establishment. All of these involve people who create them and sustain them.

As to what kind of people to have in your establishment and how to bring out the best in your existing people, these three essential factors must first be in place:

1 Vision and Values.

How are the institution’s vision and mission expressed, not just in beautiful sounding words on a document, but in actual, day-to-day lived experience by all involved with it?

Firstly, has the establishment’s vision and mission statements been clearly defined? If they were, were they arrived at through a correct, thorough, and consultative visioning and strategic planning process involving and owned by all stakeholders? Or were they just written by one or two people but not clearly understood nor owned by everyone else, especially the employees?

If it is clear, understood, and taken to heart by everyone, an institution’s vision and mission set the course for the institution’s entire life. Does its vision include valuing people? Does its mission tacitly express the core values the establishment lives by in treating all stakeholders honorably — employees, customers, suppliers, and even the community it engages in? Are these vision and mission statements incorporated into all corporate decisions, plans, rules and regulations, and activities?

2 Good Leadership.

Workplace leaders and their leadership styles set the tone for how the institution’s vision and mission are enacted in daily operations. Are they leaders who themselves practice and exemplify the key qualities of good leaders who can form and nurture good relationships in and out of the workplace?

In 2019, 83% of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies employees indicated that their management’s words are matched with their actions, compared with only 42% at average companies. This means they perceive their management to have integrity and are therefore credible and personable to their employees.

Trustworthy leadership and management significantly impact employee retention, overall employee satisfaction, employees’ motivation to provide extra effort at work, and employees’ willingness to recommend their workplace to others. Honest and ethical leaders make employees five times more likely to want to work in the establishment for a long time and 11 times more likely to believe that their workplace is great. This, in turn, positively affects their morale and productivity.

3 Enabling Systems and Processes.

As the essential building blocks of any establishment, business systems and processes either contribute to or detract from creating an excellent company culture.

Systems are principles, practices, and procedures applied to any business activity to achieve a specific result.  They are the internal setup and cultural infrastructure on how to do things right. Processes are the things you do to make the system run well. They are the series of steps and activities you do to run a system. When taken together, they make up a process.

For example, how is your employee recruitment system and talent acquisition process? Do they involve specific, measurable criteria for attracting, identifying, and selecting the people who would best fit your company culture?

How are your company’s operations systems and human resource development processes? Do they provide a safe environment for employees to express ideas, make suggestions, and encourage innovation, making employees feel that they contribute meaningfully to your company’s well-being and growth? Do they create a workplace environment that expresses and nurtures trust and caring, even as they weed out the untrustworthy and uncaring ones?

Vision and values, trustworthy leadership and management, and enabling systems and processes are the necessary scaffolding for creating a great company culture. Build them right first. Then, the right people will come and stay.