You hear the term thrown around a lot these days, but what is corporate culture anyway? Why does it matter to an organization and what are the key benefits of having one in place? Most importantly, if it truly is important, how do you go about developing one that makes an impact and is sustainable over the long term?
All great questions for sure, but let’s take it from the beginning.
Loosely defined, corporate culture is the shared attributes of an organization and the members that comprise it. These qualities can be beliefs, attitudes, and values that guide the organization throughout their daily activities.
Corporate culture is not a single process or element, but rather the cumulative effect of all parts of how a company does business.
This includes everything from goals and strategies to the structure of the organization itself. Most importantly, corporate culture defines how the business approaches its relationships with all involved stakeholders: customers, investors, employees and the community.
Yes – it is. Research has shown that a healthy corporate culture can significantly impact the productivity of an organization (and their employees).
In strong corporate cultures, employees are more apt to feel like they’re part of a team and gain a sense of satisfaction in helping others succeed. And as is human nature, people work harder, accomplish more, and give their best when they know it matters.
This notion holds especially true when it comes to millennials in the workplace – who value culture over just about anything else.
A study from Columbia University found that turnover rates for organizations with strong company culture were around 14%. Whereas companies who lacked these cohesive structures saw churn figures as high as 48.4%.
Employees who lack company culture frequently see themselves as individuals – focusing more on their own needs vs those of the organization. Often doing just enough to “get by” and never truly engaging or working to their full potential.
A compelling reason on its own to investigate further.
While there are many benefits to having one, there are no set in stone rules for developing company culture. However, there are a few guiding principles that many successful organizations have in common.
Honesty and Transparency – From the bottom level of the organization all the way to the top – everyone should be held to the same standard of open dialogue. Whether it be corporate strategy sessions, giving (or receiving) feedback or even water cooler banter.
An environment of honesty fosters trust and encourages member participation.
Cooperation – It goes without saying, but employees who feel their contributions are valued are much more likely to share their ideas. Not only does this benefit the individual, but improves the team as well.
Because different perspectives are often the driving force of creative problem-solving.
Growth and Development – From both a personal and professional level. Employees not only want to know that they can advance within the organization but develop new talents and skill sets along the way.
Mentorship programs, educational opportunities, and new challenges bring out the best in employees. Along with suitable financial compensation in line with any increased responsibility.
Embracing Diversity – While there’s a lot of talk about finding the right “fit” in an organization, searching for a prototypical candidate can be a mistake. Remember, you’re not looking for an army of robots, but instead, a diverse group of people who share the same ideas, goals, and values.
And the best ideas come from teams comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, talents, and experiences.
It’s no secret that great candidates are in the driver’s seat these days. Internet searches allow them to quickly uncover information about any company that they’re interested in. They can read reviews, follow on social media, and compare and contrast organizations without breaking a sweat.
Thus, monitoring and improving your web presence is paramount, but most job and career pages aren’t utilized correctly. They fail to actively market their corporate culture to the people who may be interested in it most.
Considering the internet is usually the first place job seekers encounter your brand, that’s a huge mistake.
Companies who actively market their company culture typically find better candidates and they attract employees whose values closely align with their own (while simultaneously repelling those that don’t).
So, the question is, how do you go about spreading the right kind of message? Here are a few suggestions:
While all the strategies and advice mentioned above makes a huge difference, never lose sight of the basics. That is, don’t overlook the value of simply being a good employer.
Because when you treat your employees well, they enjoy their jobs, work hard, and tell their friends and family about their experiences. Which naturally leads to referrals and even more qualified candidates being driven to your organization.
Now more than ever corporate culture is becoming a cornerstone of building a strong brand and recruiting top talent. Clearly defining organizational goals and values and depicting how they’re embraced daily is pivotal for long-term success.
Top-down management approaches that focus on honesty, cooperation, accountability, and growth keep employees engaged and motivated. When coupled with a diverse workforce of talented individuals, become an unstoppable force of new ideas and enhanced productivity.
Lastly, celebrating your team and their accomplishments with the world generates the biggest return of all – a process that repeats itself over and over again.
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