Company culture might seem like a buzzword, but it’s much more than that. When it comes to cultivating a loyal team that cares about your business and is willing to stand up for your brand, culture is one of the linchpins that holds everything together.
The What and Why of Company Culture
As a term, “company culture” is difficult to define. It includes a lot of different moving parts and ingredients. You can almost think of it like one big mixing bowl that’s comprised of your company’s shared values, mission, personality, and priorities.
“Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees,” entrepreneur Alison Doyle writes. “It is evident in the way an organization’s people interact with each other, the values they hold, and the decisions they make.”
Culture is really an embodiment of what people in your company do, how they do it, and why they do it. It’s important for a number of reasons. For one, it directly correlates with your performance. The healthier your corporate ethos, the better your employee performance will be.
Secondly, healthy culture is attractive. Millennials say it is one of the top factors they consider when choosing which companies to apply to and work for.
Thirdly, having a healthy company culture makes your business more adaptable. Research from McKinsey & Company reveals that 70 percent of business transformations and pivots fail. And out of these failures, 7-in-10 fail as a result of “culture-related issues.”
When it’s all said and done, your company’s culture is a reflection – a measurement, if you will – of what’s going on beneath the surface. It’s a quick temperature check. A good culture indicates that there are better days ahead. A poor culture means something is messed up.
Simple Ways to Enhance Your Company’s Culture
According to Harvard Business Review – which says culture accounts for 20 to 30 percent of the differential in performance when studying top performing employees against “unremarkable” employees in other companies – there are six specific elements of a great culture. They are vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place.
While all of that sounds great in theory (and is probably backed up by mountains of data and research), sometimes you need something more tangible to work with. If you’re trying to enhance your culture, you need hands-on techniques and tactics that you can use to move the needle in a positive direction. That’s where the real work is.
Every business is different, but here are some good ways to start:
Start With a Baseline
You can’t improve your company culture if you don’t know where things stand. It’s important to get a baseline measurement by polling your employees. Once you’ve established this figure, you keep measuring on a regular basis to see how you’re trending.
While there’s no specific KPI for culture, there are other ways to gauge how you’re doing on this front. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is one of them. You can use eNPS surveys, such as delighted.com to measure how employees feel about your company and how satisfied they are.
Company culture permeates the organization. It impacts everyone, whether you’re working in a corner office in the C-suite or on the factory floor. So when it comes to changing culture, you have to take the entire team into account.
Google is a great example of a company that believes in developing a unifying culture from top to bottom. Their famous “20 percent rule,” which allows employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time to their own ideas and projects, applies to everyone. You certainly don’t have to implement this rule, but the point remains: culture touches everyone. You can’t have two different cultures and expect to thrive as an organization.
Hire for the Culture You Want
The quickest way to change a culture is to change the people. If you dislike the current culture you have, don’t continue hiring the same types of people. Instead, identify what you want in the future and hire those people. By hiring for the culture you want – not the culture you have – change will follow.
Corporate ethos is bred out of a place of community. This is why it’s so challenging to build a healthy culture on a remote team. But it can be done! And regardless of whether your company operates out of a physical office, remote offices, or some hybrid version, team bonding is a must.
Facilitate bonding between employees by putting them in close proximity to one another. Encourage people to step out of their box and spend time with people they might not otherwise spend time with. You can do this by scheduling rotating “lunch dates” with random groups of three employees. This can be done virtually via Zoom or in a physical office.
Help People Grow
There’s a natural tendency to cling tightly to good, talented employees. Because they’re sacred resources, we can get stingy and possessive. But if you’re going to build a healthy culture, you have to loosen your grip and view talented employees from a mindset of abundance.
If your primary emphasis is on keeping employees locked into their current positions so that you can benefit, employees will notice. They’ll start to see your company as restrictive. Jobs that used to offer the promise of opportunity will start to look like dead-end positions.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, you need to help people grow with the expectation that one day they’ll move on to bigger and better things. When you do this, it communicates to your other employees that you care. It makes them more willing to stick around and invest in the company so that they can enjoy some of those same benefits.
How do you help people grow? By investing in them in the form of training, opportunities, encouragement, and financial support. It’s not cheap – and you’ll inevitably lose good people to “bigger and better” opportunities – but you’re planting seeds of culture that will come to harvest in the future.
Give Your Culture a Boost
Your company’s culture might not be where it needs to be. But the good news is that culture isn’t set in stone. By prioritizing the right investments and emphasizing the correct values and practices, you can begin to shape your culture. Hopefully, this article has given you some useful ideas and can serve as a practical resource for you and your team moving forward!