10 key practices to improve team culture

Strengthen your culture and watch your team members thrive

how to improve team culture

Team culture is about so much more than improving performance. While that’s part of it, a great culture comes with even bigger benefits for everyone.

What makes culture so crucial to the workplace?

We’ve got your answers below, plus some tips to help you improve the culture and boost employee satisfaction in your workplace.

Why team culture is critical to your team’s success

Why is team culture important? The short answer is that a great team culture can propel your team’s success — but a bad culture will wreak havoc.

To underscore this idea, here are some statistics from the Glassdoor Mission & Culture Survey 2019:

  • 77% of adults consider an organization’s culture before applying for a job
  • 56% of respondents say culture is more important than salary to job satisfaction
  • 73% won’t apply for a company whose values don’t align with their own
  • 65% say company culture is one of the main reasons to stay in a job
  • 71% will look for a job elsewhere if the culture at their current company deteriorates

These statistics all boil down to one thing: When a team’s culture is bad, people won’t hesitate to jump ship for greener pastures. Moreover, a high turnover rate alone can cause chaos in a team trying to meet deadlines consistently while training a never-ending flood of new hires — and turnover is only part of the damage that bad culture can cause.

If the numbers haven't convinced you yet, here are a few things businesses with great cultures can look forward to:

  • Strong cultures create camaraderie, making it easier for everyone to unite and work through tough times, whether it’s day-to-day difficulties or something big, like the pandemic.
  • Good cultures create great work environments. Teams will be more social, there will be less friction, and you'll accomplish more at the end of the day and produce a better product.
  • We already mentioned that bad culture raises turnover. The flip side of that is that good culture makes onboarding easier. New employees will come to you when you have a reputation as a great place to work.
  • Strong cultures facilitate teamwork and collaboration, which not only helps with productivity but also with training. People working well together can pick up skills from each other — a process called “informal learning.”

How to improve team culture: 10 strategies

Now you know a few reasons why good workplace culture is a great thing. So how do you go about improving your team’s culture? We’ve rounded up a few of the best strategies to use.

1. Evaluate the current state of your team culture

The first step to fixing or improving things is to take an honest, top-down look at where the problems might be. There are several areas to assess when you’re evaluating team culture:

  • How well are people working together? Are they happily collaborating, or are projects fraught with disagreements and territorial disputes?
  • What about gossip? Rampant gossip is a sign of bad culture, but little gossip indicates a good culture.
  • Are team members engaged in the work, or are they going through the motions?
  • Are they eagerly showing up early and staying a little late? Or are they dragging themselves in (or logging on) a few minutes late and slipping out as early as they can?

Those are all questions to ask yourself, but you should also ask team members. If culture is strong enough, feel free to ask outright, but if you feel that you may not get the brutal truths you need, try anonymous surveys instead. From there, you can work toward building a healthy team culture.

2. Start at the top and be an example

Here are some more stats, this time from SHRM’s report, “The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture”:

  • The turnover costs of workplace culture over the five-year period ending in 2019 was $223 billion.
  • Seventy-six percent of survey respondents say their managers set the culture.
  • Thirty-six percent say their manager doesn’t know how to lead a team.
  • One of every four workers doesn’t feel respected, valued, or safe voicing opinions.
  • Four out of every 10 workers say their manager fails to engage in honest conversations about work topics.

See the common theme here? It’s all about management.

Workplace culture starts at the top and filters down to the rest of your team members. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to lead by example.

Offer employee recognition frequently, always consider employee feedback, and make frequent check-ins — do what you can to listen to team members, learn from them, and help them feel appreciated.

3. Create a safe space for open team communication

We mentioned this statistic above, but it’s worth repeating here, too: One in four employees doesn’t feel respected, valued, or safe voicing opinions.

If you want to promote a positive workplace culture, then the bottom line is that people need to be able to express themselves honestly — and feel safe doing so.

To facilitate better communication among the team, it’s wise to engage in team-building activities that help everyone socialize.

This doesn’t necessarily mean weekend retreats, but it does mean hosting little events that focus less on work and more on socialization and morale. Even if you’re working remotely, these gestures can help increase camaraderie.

If you are working remotely, ensure there’s an online space for a water cooler chat. Create a chatroom or channel where people can occasionally drop in for some pleasant chitchat. This can be a great way to help people feel less isolated and more social.

4. Prioritize transparency

Transparency creates trust, and trust builds a positive organizational culture.

Let’s illustrate that concept with a hypothetical example. Imagine another pandemic surge or an economic disruption that results in supply chain issues — which could mean less demand for your product.

In one scenario, management could obscure information, which would lead to rumors about possible layoffs or other repercussions filtering through teams, leading to much speculation.

Speculation leads to worry — and before you know it, there will be a whole host of new problems like a lack of employee engagement, a decline in employee retention as people seek out jobs that seem safer, and an overall decline in organizational culture.

In a better scenario, management decides to be transparent about supply chain issues and the problems they could cause. Of course, nobody wants to hear bad news — but the simple fact that there is transparency surrounding the bad news helps people to trust that management isn’t holding anything back. That trust leads to higher engagement and more positivity, which in turn leaves team members more inclined to push through the hard times.

5. Have frequent, meaningful check-ins

Check-ins are a great way to improve company culture because you can get status updates, help solve problems that might be causing bottlenecks, and inquire after each team member’s well-being — all in one quick meeting.

There are two ways to handle check-ins: synchronous and asynchronous. Choose what best suits your team’s style.

We’ll cover the basics on both below.

Synchronous check-ins & standups

These check-ins happen face-to-face, via Zoom, over the phone, or via any other communication method with you and a team member chatting in real time. They can be great for gauging how team members feel at the moment.

  • Keep these meetings short — they’re check-ins, so they shouldn’t be lengthy work interruptions.
  • Follow a brief agenda to stay on task and avoid wasting time.
  • Jot down notes as you go, especially when team members are facing issues that need a resolution.

Asynchronous check-ins

This type of check-in meeting happens in Range(!), emails, message boards, or apps designed for asynchronous communication.

They’re ideal for remote teams and distributed teams, but even in-person workplaces value this type of meeting because it allows team members to check in on their own time rather than interrupting their work.

  • These meetings should be brief, too. Ask questions about progress, bottlenecks, feedback, and so on to see what each team member has to say.
  • Set expectations for replies so that team members don’t leave meeting messages sitting for days on end.
  • Define topics to discuss and clarify that async communications are for less pressing things while they should route emergencies through a more immediate communication method (like a phone call).

6. Encourage collaboration

No one is an island, right? A collaborative culture is one in which everyone not only feels empowered to work together but actually enjoys working together. It’s the kind of thing that makes people look forward to coming to work day after day.

It’s also the kind of thing that is becoming more difficult to foster now in the age of remote work and hybrid teams. Research highlights another dilemma:

More than 80% of people have felt lonely at work, and half are lonelier now than before the pandemic.

If you’re working remotely, create a social feed where your team can support each other and encourage individuals to use digital collaboration tools so they can unite around projects.

You can also encourage social learning, which happens when more experienced team members take the newbies under their wing. All of this together will help you build a strong company culture and a sense of well-being and comfort among team members.

7. Show your team appreciation and recognition

Let’s go back to that statistic: One in four employees doesn’t feel respected, valued, or safe voicing opinions.

This is another problem you tackle when you create a better workplace culture. It’s also incredibly easy to implement since kindness is free.

So how do you help team members feel appreciated and recognized? Here are a few ideas:

  • Listening is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Let team members feel seen and heard. Do what you can to address the concerns they bring to you, and make sure they feel safe voicing those concerns.
  • During regular feedback sessions, make sure to highlight some of the positives, too. No one wants feedback that is nothing but criticism. Balance out anything negative by celebrating successes — and be sure to end these sessions on a positive note.
  • Offer rewards and a recognition program. Did someone hit a huge milestone or break a sales record? Offer a bonus, an extra vacation day, or something to reward the achievement. For the smaller milestones, be sure to recognize team members for them regularly.

A little bit goes a long way. Giving team members a little recognition not only puts smiles on faces but helps give everyone a sense of purpose.

8. Nurture positive employee experiences

Nurturing positive experiences means providing recognition, encouraging collaboration, transparency, etc., right?

Yes. But it means a few other things, too.

Start by checking out your company values and mission statement. Avoid using platitudes like “work hard, play hard,” for example, because they will make eyes roll and can send the wrong message.

In this case, that team members are about to be overworked, or that they're free to play hard while at work. As you can see, neither interpretation is a great one.

You should also make sure that the company values and mission statement are people-centric, not business-centric. Many companies have mission statements like “to please customers and expand the bottom line.”

These types of things aren’t exactly inspiring — and they do nothing at all to show your team members what you’ll do to improve the employee experience.

Values and mission statements are one thing — but there are many other ways to foster positive experiences.

For example, you can try gamification to make boring tasks more entertaining or offer opportunities to build and develop new professional skills.

Part of creating a great company culture is finding ways to be inclusive and welcoming and offer the perks that people are looking for.

9. Give your team flexibility

Autonomy and flexibility are huge. Research reveals that 82% of millennials, 81% of Generation X, and 79% of baby boomers value flexibility when evaluating jobs.

So what does it mean to offer autonomy and flexibility? We’ll explore these concepts separately.


Autonomy means no micromanaging. Leadership doesn’t need to be CC’ed on every email, and team leads do not need updates every hour. These are things that degrade corporate culture and instill insecurities in team members who begin to feel like there’s always a boss breathing down their necks.

Autonomy goes a little further than avoiding micromanagement. It also means letting team members do their tasks in the best way, rather than dictating to them how to do it. If someone prefers drafting blog posts in Google Docs rather than Word, then let them do the writing where they like so long as the finished product ends up in the right places.


Flexibility at work has more to do with work-life balance. These days, most people will look elsewhere for a job if their current workplace doesn’t offer at least a little flexibility.

This doesn’t mean that team members need to be able to come and go when they please — but it is nice if they feel safe to take a mental health day when they need it or a spontaneous day off to chaperone a last-minute field trip for the kids.

It's also nice to offer a little flexibility in start and stop times to accommodate early birds and night owls, too.

10. Connect your team’s purpose with core values

At some companies, core values feel like cliches that someone wrote not because they believed in them, but because the CEO made them do it. Improving work culture means avoiding exactly that kind of attitude — and where your core values are concerned, that means finding ways to connect your team’s purpose to those values.

So let’s say that one of your company’s core values is learning. You can connect your team to that value by making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow their skills.

Or suppose a core value is diversity and inclusion. In that case, you can work toward that value by ensuring the end result of your projects are more inclusive — like products for everyone to use or marketing campaigns that speak to broader demographics.

You get the idea. Whatever your core values are, make that essential connection between those values and the team's work. It’ll help give everyone a greater sense of purpose.

Revamp your team culture with Range

Looking for communication tools to help employees connect with positive results?

How about a platform that lets you check in with everyone while boosting your team’s culture?

With Range check-ins, set your own check-in prompts and answer daily team building questions.

That’s what Range is all about. It’s the perfect platform for asynchronous check-ins.

Use it to keep everyone connected so that you can build that essential sense of team unity.

⭐️ Strengthen team culture with icebreakers and check-in prompts

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How to improve team culture: 10 key steps
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