Company culture. Such a small phrase with a big impact. According to Merriam-Webster, culture is defined as:
A: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
B: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
C: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic
D: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
Takeaways from Definitions
Customary beliefs… Shared attitudes… Set of values… Transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations… “Culture” envisions a plethora of responsibilities, and even pressure, but more importantly, possibilities. In the work environment, company culture is the concept that can make or break a company.
If a company’s culture supports communication and establishes a sense of trust among employees and management, the culture fosters an environment of growth and productivity. The company will be an employer of choice by existing and potential employees which is essential as the competition for talent has no end. On the other hand, if a company’s culture does not support collaboration and promotes an authoritarian style of management, productivity will be stagnant, and employees will seek a company which personifies a culture of value – the value of employees and their talent. Culture is ignited or extinguished by one factor, the human factor. Light the fuse to ignite a company culture that shines brightly for all.
Let’s examine the facets of culture in more depth and how all four of those definitions relate to company culture.
Company Culture Definition A
In the work environment, customary beliefs are attitudes and principles that guide employees in daily performance. Ideally, these beliefs should be motivators. Employees hope that their hard work pays off financially and intrinsically. People want to do well and succeed in their role. Employee engagement drives productivity. According to Forbes, companies with a positive work culture have 72% higher employee engagement. Productivity plummets and employee morale suffers if employees are not engaged with their responsibilities and the company as a whole.
When a company’s culture promotes teamwork and inclusivity, engagement increases because people feel welcome to contribute no matter their biological or social differences. Creating an environment where people feel safe to share ideas and try new things creates a trusting relationship among employees and leadership. The “work group” evolves into a cohesive unit, ultimately a “work family”, that appreciates the unique characteristics and knowledge that everyone offers which expands ideas and knowledge.
Company Culture Definition B:
Shared attitudes start with the company’s mission, vision and values. The company’s mission, vision and values serve as the company’s compass for steering and keeping employees on the desired path to fulfillment. Management sets the foundation for establishing culture. The company’s mission, vision and values are only words if they are not demonstrated by management. Authentic company culture begins with leadership who demonstrates positive core values and holds employees accountable to foster a work environment that is conducive to communication and learning.
How people interact and work with each other and how decisions are made is what displays culture. Fewer positive interactions among employees can yield poor decisions that affect business goals. Employees are 26% more likely to leave a role if they feel there is a lack of respect between colleagues. Management must exemplify what is expected of employees to create an authentic environment reflecting the importance of the company’s goals.
All employees have their own set of values that impact them. That is what makes everyone unique and offers a myriad of learning opportunities in society. Muting employees’ differences only festers insecurity. Embrace the value of diversity within the company, and put an emphasis on inclusion. Make sure all employees feel valued and represented. Find ways to show gratitude for their efforts. Were departmental and/or company goals achieved? Financial rewards such as bonuses are compensation tools appreciated by employees; however, not all companies have the financial resources to provide bonuses to employees so find alternate ways to show appreciation.
However, you should keep in mind that it is still important to acknowledge employees’ efforts even if the goal was not achieved because that helps keep employees motivated and willing to be a risk-taker. Celebrate successes by providing lunch to the team. Establish a policy that employees can have their birthday off. Write a thank you note to show gratitude for hard work. Praise publicly. Dedicate a specific area for photos and shout-outs to show gratitude. Because gratitude for employee practices that promote inclusion and aim for achieving company goals can be shown in various ways so find ways that reflect the company’s values.
Keeping talented, knowledgeable employees is a goal for any organization. Turnover costs money. Transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations is a component of a company’s strategic plan by developing succession plans for leadership and identifying ways to enrich current employees’ educational development. A positive company culture retains employees. Seventy four percent of employees would leave their current organization if culture started to decline according to a Glassdoor survey. A mass exodus of talent can leave a company faltering as management tries to capture replacement talent.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) calculates that an employee’s departure can cost a company six to nine months worth of salary to find a replacement. When employees feel a connection to the company and their teammates, that creates a sense of camaraderie. If employees feel valued and recognized, attitudes are more positive, and that is contagious. Tenured employees who stay at a company for an extended period of their work life develop an extensive amount of wisdom and knowledge that can be shared with new and existing employees to keep company life strong.
Promoting qualified employees who are committed to maintaining a positive company culture demonstrates the company’s commitment to employees. Everyone benefits. The company maintains productivity by transferring knowledge from seasoned leaders to employees who want to maintain growth and prosperity, individually and for the company.
Company culture matters. It sets the tone for productivity and happiness in the work environment. If culture is not at the positive level desired, start assessing the environment and evaluate what needs changing to help craft a plan to make those changes. Solicit employees’ feedback about culture through surveys to start gathering different perspectives. Evaluate the feedback and start small with changes. As employees see leadership making a bona fide effort to create a more positive company culture, excitement will develop. Humankind truly becomes human and kind.