What Is Company Culture and Why Is It Important?
At its core, the culture of any given place or group is a collection of its habits, beliefs, attitudes and knowledge. In the workplace, this translates to the environment that employees exist in and contribute to. As Forbes defines company culture,
“A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share.”
Although company culture is a manifestation of each employee’s attitude and actions, it is heavily influenced by the leadership of the organization. According to the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, workplace culture is predicated on three core ideas:
- Building safety - feeling comfortable working together and trying new things without fear of failure
- Sharing vulnerability - realizing that no one needs to be perfect
- Establishing purpose - working towards a common goal
Positive company culture will foster an environment of creativity, collaboration and improved work performance. This translates to happy employees and happy clients. Lower staff turnover and better outcomes? It’s a win-win.
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Try These 5 Ways to Maintain Good Company Culture
1. Define Your Culture
So how do you create — and maintain — a positive company culture? First, you must identify what your current culture looks like.
It’s time to be honest with yourself for a minute. Do your employees indicate that they truly enjoy where they work? Is staff turnover an ongoing problem? Is a certain department heavy with gossip? Do employees feel safe to take creative risks?
These are all important questions to ask because they help identify the current state of your culture and give you actionable ways to improve areas that don’t align with your personal vision for your company.
It’s important to get your employees involved in this process. Ask them questions about what makes your company a great place to work, and ask for open feedback about what challenges they face. If they had to describe the culture in five words, what would those be?
Once you have a handle on this, you can put together a short definition of your company culture. This definition will act as your lighthouse to continuously steer you in the right direction and it will provide potential hires a transparent look into your organization.
2. Hire Those Who Fit Your Culture
When looking for potential new employees, it’s imperative that you determine if they will fit within your company culture.
Can you see them actively collaborating with other team members? Will they help build on the three core ideas of an effective culture: creating safety, sharing vulnerability and establishing a clear purpose?
If your culture is defined as “fun, hard-working and passionate,” you should be hiring employees that naturally fit that mold. At the end of the day, most skills can be taught. Hire for fit first, and skill second.
3. Encourage Employees to Get to Know Each Other
The benefits of team building include increased collaboration, improved productivity and increased creativity. It’s easy to see why. We spend almost as much time with our coworkers as we do our family and friends. If we enjoy being around them and feel safe in the team environment, it’s only natural that improved performance will follow.
There are many routes you can take to foster a strong, unified team environment. If you’re looking for a way to build team member bonds that doesn’t involve ice breakers in a conference room, why not consider something outside of the office? Try organizing a meet-up outside of work (non-mandatory, of course) or choose a community project to work on together. That way, everyone will have a casual, relaxed environment in which to get to know one another.
One of the most important things you can do is find time to celebrate successes. We get so focused on completing tasks and moving on to the next one that it can be easy to forget to acknowledge when your team hits a goal. Take the time to recognize the achievement and your team will be stronger for it.
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According to some research published in the Holmes Report, the cost of poor communication can be up to $26,041 per worker, a figure that was determined by the “cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers.”
Now, your company might not stand to lose that much per employee as the 100,000-employee companies who were surveyed for that study. But it’s clear that there are real costs associated with poor communication.
To avoid costly misunderstandings about company policies, business processes and job functions, implement an open door policy in the office. Make sure employees feel comfortable talking with managers and coworkers by encouraging questions without fear of reprimand.
If an employee is struggling, communicate openly with them and develop a plan of action to help them improve. Not only with this give that employee a clear path forward, but it will show other employees that it’s okay to fail. People will trust that there are no conversations going on behind their backs and that the office truly is a place where open communication is valued.
5. Promote Growth
You’ve hired talented people who are experts in their field. Help them believe that and you’ll see real results in your business.
With a sense of safety in the office comes an increased comfort level with being authentic and vulnerable in the workplace. Allow space for employees to try new things as opposed to the same cookie-cutter methods you’ve always used. Provide them with new learning opportunities so they can stay current with trends and feel confident in testing new ideas. That’s where the magic happens.
Maintaining a Good Company Culture
By implementing these five things, you’ll find that positive company culture can not only be established, but you can continuously improve upon any perceived weaknesses in your business.
You should find that the hiring process becomes more effective and that employees remain loyal. And let’s not forget about the benefits your clients will reap as well. A more productive work environment with optimal team collaboration will ultimately produce the best results for them.
Don’t let a sub-par company culture diminish the value of the products or services you offer. Instead, start harnessing the power of it.