Company culture is what makes your business what it is, beyond your products and services. It’s your people, their values, and their behaviour.
The way people think, and the way they interact with each other, contributes to a social and psychological environment that’s unique to every business. And that unique social and psychological environment is known as a company culture.
This is one HR buzzword that’s here to stay. Because while “company culture” might describe something that’s invisible, that’s not to say that it doesn’t exist. It’s implicit and it’s enduring – everyone takes part in it even if they’re not aware of doing so. And everyone feels it even if they’re not aware of it.
What makes a good Company Culture?
Your company culture is your business. Your goals, your philosophy, your ethos, and your history. They are your future expectations. As well as your values and your team’s values, both spoken and unspoken. Your rules and regulations, both written and unwritten. It’s the behaviour you expect, and the behaviour you consider to be unacceptable. Finally it’s the little things, from where people sit to who makes the coffee.
Everything that ever happens in your workplace contributes to your company culture. Every member of every team is a unique individual with their own ingrained beliefs, values, and prejudices. That’s why every company in the world has its own unique culture.
However, even though every company culture is unique, every company culture is manifested in broadly the same ways. You can feel it when you walk into any workplace. What’s the atmosphere like? How do people talk to each other? How does the information flow, and how freely do people express their opinions? Do people find value in their work, or do they treat a day at the office as “a day at the office”? Is there a shared purpose, a noble vision, or is it all about the money and the power?
There are as many different company cultures in the world as there are different companies. But there are still different types of company cultures.
We put together a guide to the various different types of company cultures here. Which one fits your business?
Why Does Company Culture Matter?
Your company culture will determine how effectively your team can work together, and it will influence the relationships between staff and management. A good company culture can make employees feel engaged and motivated. They’ll be more likely to bring their best to work, and less likely to leave in search of other opportunities.
Good company cultures make good ideas possible. Bad company cultures stifle creativity and leave employees reluctant to speak their mind and share their views.
Word spreads about companies with positive and engaging cultures. This can make clients and customers more likely to buy from you, and talented individuals more likely to work with you.
So, a good company culture can make your business thrive, while a bad company culture can spell doom.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a good company culture.
Reputation is Everything
A few years ago it emerged that 90% of Sport Direct staff are on zero-hour contracts with no holiday or sick pay, while full-time members of staff can expect bonuses of up to £100,000. This is a company culture that draws from the hard work of thousands in order to reward a few, in which the majority of workers face uncertainty and insecurity.
When this news got out, the blowback was brutal. People took to social media urging the public to boycott Sports Direct.
And this isn’t the only time Sport Direct’ toxic company culture landed them in hot water. They’ve also faced criticism and threats of boycott for their treatment of sports teams, and even their customers.
There’s a lesson here – a bad company culture is bad for business.
But is a good company culture good for business? You bet. Here’s a list of seven companies that really take care of their employees. They champion them as individuals and encourage them to be creative. Employee wellbeing is the order of the day, and many of them have schemes to allow their staff to give back to the community, and the world.
These are some of the biggest companies in the world – Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Nike, and others. They must be doing something right.
Purpose and Growth
It’s a myth that the most successful companies are those that are driven by profit. If you really want your company to thrive, you need to be driven by purpose.
Too many companies in the UK have a culture that values profit above all else. This is costing the UK economy around £23.6 billion a year.
Why? It’s complicated. But essentially, people struggle to engage with their jobs when their only motivation is making a profit for their company. Workers can also lose trust in management and decision-makers when they feel their work lacks purpose.
A good company culture starts with a defined purpose – something that’s easy to put into words and that any member of the team could get behind. When you’re working to achieve something you believe in, your motivation, engagement and productivity soars. And when every member of your team is firing on all cylinders, increased profits are almost inevitable.
So, what’s your company’s purpose? Think about it, then put it in writing, and communicate it to the rest of your team. Share your vision, state your objectives, and invite people to come onboard.
A good company culture is one that treats people as people. Your workforce isn’t a series of cogs in a machine, endlessly grinding to make you money. It’s a beautiful collection of beautiful people – brilliant individuals with their own unique hopes, dreams, talents and achievements.
A bad company culture can leave your team feeling stressed, anxious, resentful and demotivated. Study after study shows that unhappy employees are seriously bad for your bottom line.
Be good to your people – champion their health, happiness and wellbeing – and they’ll be good to you too. Make employee wellbeing the cornerstone of your company culture and you can expect a huge boost to engagement and satisfaction. This can lead to fresh ideas, improved staff retention, better relationships between staff and management, and increased productivity and profits.
This is easier said than done, of course. Company culture shifts don’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term process that can involve making changes at a fundamental level. You’ll need buy-in from everyone at all levels, and you may have to face some ugly truths about your current company culture.
It’s hard, and it can be expensive, but is it worth it? Absolutely. Make your company culture something to be proud of and expect to get results that your whole team can be proud of.
We worked with the job satisfaction specialists at Perkbox to put together an essential guide to employee wellbeing. It’s got dozens of ideas that will help you start a positive cultural shift in your company.