When you think of the phrase, “company culture,” it might call to mind things like casual Fridays, office parties, and happy hours. But research suggests that company culture has a remarkable impact on everything from hiring to productivity, to turnover. In fact, according to author James L. Heskett, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with “culturally unremarkable competitors.” Job seekers increasingly place company culture at the top of their list when considering a place of employment. And the most successful companies, like Google and Amazon, share the common element of great company culture. Take a look at what defines company culture and how you can create one that thrives.
WHAT IS COMPANY CULTURE?
A company’s culture is an intangible asset comprised of attitudes, values, and behaviors. A successful culture is one designed with a clearly defined mission and set of goals. Some might think a cohesive culture means similar people with congruent ideas, but top-performing businesses prove this to be counterintuitive. Great company cultures don’t require coworkers to share political, religious, or ideological beliefs, but they do require a shared mission and core business values. An effective company culture provides employees with a sense of purpose and motivation beyond a means of income and revenue generation for the company.
WHY IS CULTURE IMPORTANT?
While a great company culture might seem like a nice perk, it is actually essential to success, and here is why.
- Culture cannot be copied– An individual culture cannot be duplicated, and that’s a distinct advantage. When you are in sync with your coworkers, you’ll be in sync with your clients, and that creates brand loyalty.
- Decrease in turnover– A positive work environment also decreases turnover as happy employees aren’t looking to leave.
- Employee engagement– While salary and position are important to employees upon initial hire, a supportive atmosphere is what keeps them engaged.
- Performance improvement– Enhanced productivity occurs in environments where people enjoy what they do.
- Attracting new hires– A strong culture is a competitive advantage not only in beating competitor’s sales but also in attracting new hires, especially in today’s candidate-driven market.
HOW IS CULTURE CREATED?
Every company has a unique culture, whether they choose to create it, or it takes on a life of its own. To ensure that your company’s culture is desirable, take steps to steer the direction. Use these tips to compile the right team and strengthen your company’s culture.
1. DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE AND VALUES
Start by defining your core mission and values, and let those guide your decisions. Everything from the people you hire, to the policies you enforce, to the benefits you offer should be governed by your guiding principles. Your purpose defines why you do what you do, and your values determine how you do it.
2. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
An inviting culture starts at the top- how do you engage with your employees? If you want your employees to collaborate well and value being on your team, then you need to demonstrate collaboration and an appreciation for your team. Employees need to feel validated, and that starts with how you treat them. Schedule mentoring sessions, and “town hall” style meetings, where employees can voice their ideas. Make yourself approachable and available to foster a sense of community. Offer competitive pay and benefits, and reward hard work with incentives, to boost company morale.
3. PROVIDE SPACE TO CONNECT
A diverse team with a multifaceted approach generates broader client acquisition. But different lifestyles, habits, and personalities can end up compartmentalized by departments and cubicles. The way to encourage a homogeneous culture is to provide opportunities to mingle. While corporate events and happy hours have their place, human interaction is often most authentic during the daily grind. We all have to eat lunch, grab a coffee, or get a breath of fresh air, so make space for such activities onsite. An atrium, break room, patio, or game room can help type A’s, type B’s, left-brains, and right-brains link up to find commonalities.
4. GIVE POSITIVE RECOGNITION TO GENERATE LOYALTY
Positive recognition is known to enhance employee productivity. Great companies know that it’s important to provide incentives, as well as encouragement along the way. With employer validation comes a sense of loyalty and connection, which prevents costly turnover. In fact, companies with high levels of employee recognition lose 31% fewer employees to voluntary turnover. That connection is what helps companies through changes: when a bond is strong, teams will seek to adapt to change, in order to stay together.
5. IDENTIFY COMMON CHARACTERISTICS & HIRE BASED ON VALUES
Successful brands look at top performers to see what they have in common. What traits are winning the day, and advancing some employees faster than others? While you may have already identified the traits you seek in employees, you should also be seeking out new traits that prove to be effective. When it’s clear that common characteristics are generating revenue, add them to your mission statement, and seek them in future hires. Assessments can be used to identify traits internally and also seek values-based traits both in current employees and prospective hires.
It is important to note that hiring based on values does not mean hire candidates who all share the same opinions and identical skills. Groupthink and lockstep might prevent confrontation, but they also stifle creativity. When everyone agrees, all of the time, your business might actually stagnate. Learn to measure an applicant’s values and behaviors against your company’s mission, to assess how they handle different situations. Collaboration is key to innovation, so hire candidates who are eager to bring something new to the team, not just fall in step.
6. FOSTER “FAMILY” RITUALS
Most people spend more waking hours at work than they do at home. In that sense, your coworkers are a type of family, and great company cultures promote that. Rituals are the things that set groups apart and give them a sense of belonging. They also take the mundane nature of the workday and infuse it with anticipation. Strong brands look to individualize their traditions, and make them unique to their purpose. Rituals should be specific to your company’s culture, so take the pulse to see what type of tradition would best fit your atmosphere.
HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY YOUR CULTURAL CHARACTER?
Free snacks and matching t-shirts are fun for a minute, but they don’t define your company’s culture. To truly identify who you are as a company, look not only at what you do, but also how, and why you do it. Determine the values you want to uphold and the mission that keeps you motivated. Seek out the characteristics in your employees that mirror your vision, and reward and promote those behaviors.