We always hear about how important it is to foster a strong and healthy company culture. But what exactly does this mean? What is office culture and how can it be nurtured into a positive ethos which eventually becomes engendered into the fabric of an organisation’s DNA? Let’s take a look.
In this article, we examine how company culture is born, maintained and adapted, where necessary, to move with the times to shape the innermost workings of a business.
In essence, company culture defines the implicit social order of an organisation and the proper way to behave within it. This culture is created by a variety of factors, including a company's vision, and it embodies the shared beliefs, values, goals, preferences, norms, systems and habits of the business and the employees within it. These tend to be established by a company’s leaders and then communicated to employees, ultimately shaping their own behaviours and understanding.
Company culture sets the context for every decision and approach which an organisation chooses to embark upon. Due to the fact that every business is different, along with the industries or sectors they operate within, it’s not possible to have a one-size-fits-all template.
This means that each and every organisation must create their own unique company culture. A successful culture should incorporate a company’s overarching goals with the values of its employees and, in doing so, will contribute to copious amounts of energy geared towards a shared purpose. This, in turn, paves the way for the perfect strategy to ensure that an organisation is able to thrive and look forward to a promising future.
A culture may be maintained through attraction, with job seekers drawn towards certain companies more than others. A strong company culture inevitably attracts better talent and, more importantly, retains that talent. When people feel like they truly belong to an organisation, they're more likely to stay for the long-term. That results in lower turnover, fewer new hires, increased loyalty and better team chemistry.
Selection also plays a key part in this because, during the interview and hiring process, managers tend to pick and on-board new employees who fit the company’s culture. Equally, sometimes people are hired, get into the role and then realise they don’t fit, which is known as attrition and helps to eliminate those who won’t be equipped to positively contribute towards the company culture. Reward systems such as salary, benefits and potential for growth also play a huge role in establishing a business as having a good or bad culture.
Saying all of that, it’s possible to have a perceived overall poor culture or reputation but enjoy a good sub-culture across different teams or divisions and between managers and immediate colleagues. This can certainly be the case in larger firms, where different divisions can be substantial in size and often teams across those areas work closely together and their own niche culture organically forms as a result.
As well as company culture changing in accordance with its employees’ immediate requirements, it also needs to be able to adapt with the times. This is so that the organisation in question is able to efficiently and ably weather any storm and achieve continued success.
This is especially prevalent given that culture has been affected by a change in working patterns as a direct result of Covid-19. A hybrid way of working moving forwards will have to engage and inspire employees working remotely in precisely the same way as those who go into physical office spaces.
Working towards a good office culture comprises the following key elements:
A company is only as good as the people within it. Being selective during the hiring process and choosing people who share your goals and values is essential. It will also result in happier, more productive employees who are likely to strive to help you achieve your own organisational goals.
Great leaders should inspire a strong vision. This is why senior managers need to lead by example while making their objectives clear from the start. A sensible way to do this is to implement policies or frameworks which are clearly communicated throughout the entire company. This will result in everyone being on the same page and working towards a true purpose.
Every business has its own origins and narrative, which can be a major factor for success. This is why it’s important to incorporate your organisation’s history and heritage into your culture. Sharing your business’s unique story connects your employees to why your organisation exists in the first place. If you celebrate your roots and beginnings, your employees will be more inclined to embody your purpose in their own work.
It’s all very well for companies to have a set of perceived core values but they lose all meaning if daily operations fail to align with them. It’s important to ensure that practices such as your leadership framework, communication methods and overall workplace environment all support your company values.
It can often be difficult for employees to see the tangible value that they’re contributing to the bigger picture. Make your workers feel like their achievements are significant by celebrating them. Tell your employees how much you appreciate their individual accomplishments, hard work and good ideas and share the news across the wider business. This will help them to understand how important their input is to your organisation’s success.
Employees don't want to stay in a role where they feel bored or that they’re not being afforded the opportunity to develop and grow. This is why it’s vital to encourage professional training so that employees are improving their own skills while working better and smarter for you. This can be through professional qualifications, online courses, webinars, in-house training sessions or simply being provided the flexibility to explore new areas of interest.
After the elements which comprise your company’s culture has been determined, implement them across the board. This type of consistency helps to build employee trust and loyalty. If people observe that there are inconsistencies in your culture, they’ll start to regard you as being inauthentic and seek out career opportunities elsewhere.
The buck may not stop with fun perks like duvet days and trips to fancy restaurants, alongside more lifestyle based benefits such as private healthcare and competitive salaries and commission structures. However, they certainly help to boost a business’s reputation for being a great place to work and will, to some extent, assist in attracting the right sort of employee, one who looks forward to showing up at work every day and shares your vision.
It’s important to consider the fact that every company has its own culture and that it doesn't always manifest itself straight away. Don't be afraid to adjust, tweak and adapt as you go to make the perfect blend of inspirational and aspirational.
For more advice about striking the right balance when it comes to your own company culture, simply get in touch with the team at MERJE: firstname.lastname@example.org.