The workplace isn’t just about work. Sure, reaching productivity quotas or snagging reputable clients matter, but so does the way your business operates.

To that end, company culture goes hand in hand with the ability of a workforce to produce quality work. Here are five ways the two are linked.

1. Happiness Increases Productivity

Simply put, a happy worker proves to be a productive one. The University of Warwick’s Department of Economics found that content employees boosted their output by roughly 12 percent.

Creating a happier workplace can be the goal of a change in company culture, and there are multiple ways to do this. As one example, a business can improve happiness by making its mission and goals known. By giving staffers something to work toward, they’ll feel happier and more fulfilled on the job, thus boosting their output.

It’s vital to note what can happen when a business’s culture swings toward the other end of the spectrum. Employees in unhappy work environments have low morale for a multitude of reasons — perhaps they feel underappreciated, or they feel as though a particular team or person gets special treatment.

These sentiments lead to the destruction of company culture and worker happiness, but it’s easy to understand why an unhappy employee wouldn’t do as much as their content counterpart. Why would they want to do more for a business that does very little for them?

2. Group Mentality Inspires the Individual

In some ways, an inspiring company culture works like positive peer pressure. Employees strive to achieve more so their work aligns with the rest of their colleagues and their organization’s goals. Seeing a co-worker put in the effort and accomplish more makes the next person reach higher. It’s a good kind of domino effect.

Think of it this way — athletes hoping to make the Olympics typically don’t train alone. They gather together and prepare alongside other elite runners, skaters, gymnasts and swimmers — they push each other to exceed their limits. The same goes for a workplace environment with a motivating culture, as everyone’s encouraged to do their best. More importantly, though, they want to achieve highly, which will boost productivity.

One way to ensure that your company is employed by those who inspire their coworkers, it to rethink your hiring process. Do you hire for skill or fit? What kind of questions are being asked of applicants during the interview process? If you’re having a rough time finding employees who match your culture, it might be time to try new strategies such as big data staffing which can use databases to find the best fit for the role and your organization.

3. Employees Want Recognition

Working for eight hours a day, five days a week, requires a lot of energy and time. An employee wants to know that their effort is worth it. A company mission statement can provide one reason as to why they do what they do, but personal recognition goes a long way in boosting their sense of self-worth within the company, too.

A culture that centers upon praise and recognition, therefore, can inspire staffers to work harder in search of that spotlight or promised reward. There are plenty of ways to give them the moment they deserve. A regular gathering in which bosses dole out awards could do the trick, as could bonuses, gift cards or free lunches. Small tokens of appreciation for a job well done go a long way.

Of course, a fledgling company might not have such a grandiose display of gratitude in its budget. These organizations can start by simply providing feedback to each worker to tell them how they can improve and what they’re doing right. Ending on a positive note will always inspire staffers to push harder and get better ahead of the next feedback session.

4. Company Policies Can Hinder Productivity

Something as simple as expected workplace attire can get in the way of productivity. Do employees know what they explicitly can and cannot wear on the job? If so, it might make dressing for work and performing the job easier. However, it also makes them feel less autonomous — why must they wear one particular type of shoe? Why can’t they make decisions for themselves?

Some companies operate on these types of principle-centric policies, wherein they provide a general outline of what they expect, but ultimately give staffers the ability to act as they interpret the guidelines. Although in the aforementioned example it might make decisions difficult — and, sometimes it can lead to discussions or disagreements over how one person’s interpretation versus another’s — generally, a principled policy works better than a prescriptive one. Outlining precisely what an employee has to do makes them feel as if they have no voice, which negatively affects culture.

Company culture ultimately comes down to the people who work there. An aggressive hiring process serves as a key method for cultivating a healthy, happy workplace. To that end, once a business has high-quality staffers on board, it should do anything it can to retain them — and happiness is the ultimate factor in why employees choose to stay.

5. Strong Leaders Increase Productivity, Too

Lead by example — this should be a mantra of any company’s higher-up staff members. Strong leadership starts with a business’s mission, which should drive its actions and practices. This trickles down to managers, who, in turn, show their team members how to work to embody that mission. No matter where they stand on the corporate ladder, a good leader shows others how it’s done and helps when necessary. This positive, collaborative environment will only improve company culture and productivity.

Because the company mission statement is so vital to its culture — and, in many examples above, it’s directly linked to productivity, too — business leaders should take time to clarify it every so often. To that end, how they hope to achieve their strategy should be honed, too. This will make it easier for employees to understand why they work and what they’re working toward. It also allows managers to guide them there, which further strengthens the culture.

Strong Culture Inspires Greatness

An unproductive workforce wastes money and time, uninspired to perform as the best possible version of themselves. However, reshaping company culture can completely change an otherwise lackluster staff. Happy employees do more work. Effective leaders and encouraging co-workers stoke productivity. Good policies give workers ownership of what they do, which pushes them to do more. The promise of recognition sweetens the deal further.

Company culture is vital in stoking productivity and keeping employees content. It’ll take an effort to change things, but it’s clearly worth it.

About the author

Nathan Sykes is the founder of Finding an Outlet, where he covers business and technology.