What Is Company Culture And Why Is It Important?
Company culture has been described in many ways by many businesses, but one of the most prominent ways of describing it is this: “Company culture describes the shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterise an organisation”. But what does this mean in practice, and why is it important for your organisation?
Written And Unwritten Company Culture
Company culture is often seen as a combination of the business mission statement, organisational structure and hierarchy, core values, and an employee code of conduct. However, defining company culture in these structural terms often misses the impact and importance of a company culture itself. Culture goes beyond the written rules of how people should interact with each other and their customers, into an unwritten, shared mentality shaped by the everyday activities of your organisation’s leaders and employees.
A positive company culture is vitally important because it establishes an environment in which people feel comfortable and able to do their best work and where they can work collaboratively with others to achieve common goals and objectives. Recent research by Bright Network also showed for the eighth year running, that people and culture are still the most important part of a business’s marketing and attraction strategy. Showcasing your people and giving insights into your company culture helps new talent decide whether they could see themselves working for your organisation. This was particularly true when it came to female hires, with 40% of respondents rating people and culture as the most important.
A strong company culture will aid the development of a cohesive purpose that shapes individual attitudes and behaviours, including how to constructively deal with conflict the approach people should take when undertaking tasks and how decisions are made. Your culture is the beating heart of your organisation, the key to a happy workforce and arguably the best advertisement for recruitment.
Does A Company Culture Evolve Or Is It Designed?
Much like a personal brand, a company culture will develop organically whether it’s something that business leaders have consciously developed and thought about or not. Left unchecked, company cultures can become toxic, with detrimental impacts on productivity, morale, loyalty and employee well-being. A toxic workplace culture will lead to a variety of negative consequences that will drain your bottom line, including affecting your business’s reputation and your employee’s health.
Cultivating a positive and strong company culture that represents your organisational purpose and the needs of your people should, therefore, be the number one priority of business owners and leaders today. Proactive leadership and constructive feedback in the workplace will help establish clear expectations and behaviours and provide an ethical compass for employees in their day-to-day interactions with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers.
So, What Steps Can Businesses Take To Create A Positive Company Culture?
Company culture is closely tied in with ardent business leadership, and a conscious culture starts with leaders and managers setting the tone by exemplifying the desired behaviours through their own actions. Of course, written guidelines and performance expectations, have their place, as they provide a necessary framework for employees, but a company culture should not be set in stone. As an organisation grows and diversifies, and as the market changes, so should your culture. Taking the time to regularly review your company culture and re-aligning your day-to-day activities with where you want to go in the future, will help facilitate many more achievements than a business that was once great but refuses to take the necessary steps to facilitate positive change.
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