Company culture is often talked about nowadays, but what is it really? Although it is hard to define because it comprises many different elements, it is often succinctly described as ‘how we do things around here’. It involves shared values and practices in the workplace, common attitudes and behaviours among employees, and in a way, it is an unwritten set of rules that employees know to follow and work by. A positive company culture will entail trust, the sense of a shared mission, perhaps a feeling of community and it definitely has a great influence on motivation, morale, productivity and the well-being of employees.
Company culture is different in every organisation, there is no right or wrong way. It usually emerges rather naturally, at the beginning at least, either through the general company values/industry/product, the founder’s values and vision, etc. Leadership and management style reflect company culture to a large extent – for example, do employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions?
Benefits of having a strong company culture
In a nutshell, the right company culture can give employees a feeling of belonging and fulfillment. This will make employees happier, which means that they will be more productive. A productive business is a fast and forward-thinking business, and this can help get ahead of the competition. Besides, if there is a strong company culture that more or less guides employees’ behaviour, they will be able to make more of the right decisions for the company. For example, if the customer service team knows how to handle issues according to the company values, customers will be happier and the brand altogether will be perceived more positively. This can make the company more profitable.
Changing company culture
Company culture can be the hardest thing to change about a company as it effectively entails altering human behaviour and habits, and we all know this is no walk in the park. Yet as companies grow and as markets evolve, every culture needs to adapt, whether the change is big or small. For example, as a start-up grows larger, the influx of new people will unavoidably influence the culture to a certain degree. This is not a pitfall, cultures simply need to evolve to stay aligned with new business goals and keep up with the internal and external business environment. For instance, studies show that millennials are motivated by factors other than salary and job security, which the previous generation strived for. Instead, they value work-life balance and the feeling of working towards a greater good. A well-established, older organisation would best keep this in mind when hiring young employees.
A lot of the time, changes happen naturally. However, sometimes we identify cultural problems that we need to tweak in a planned an organised manner. To alter the company culture at an already large organisation will take time. In theory, bringing in more people with the new desirable traits will assist with making it a smoother transition, among other tactics.
Effects on recruitment
In terms of recruitment, company culture can make all the difference. Top talent will often choose a new opportunity for the competitive advantage that is a company culture that suits them, as they could easily get the same salary and similar benefits somewhere else, whereas a work environment where they feel they fit in is more difficult to come by.
As an employer, you probably also want to recruit individuals who understand the company’s vision and would be a good match with the rest of the team in order to ensure an effective and agreeable collaboration. Company culture is part of the employer brand. How do you find the right candidates for your company culture? Surely you try to get an idea during the interview by asking cultural fit questions (you can find plenty online to get you inspired), but some companies even go as far as to ‘test’ the candidates in trial periods of, say, a week to see how they fare with the rest of the team. At the same time, you do not want to overly focus on the cultural fit. As explained earlier, company cultures sometimes need a change or the introduction of new traits, behaviours, habits, processes, etc., so you don’t always want to turn down someone who is a bit different but could otherwise be good for the company overall. Diversity is also important.
Don’t forget that your employees represent the company at all times, even outside the office. The more integrated they feel into the culture, the more positive the light in which they talk about the company.
Employees shouldn’t dread going to work, they should be happy to go in. Everyone can have a bad day, but being surrounded by like-minded people who enjoy working for the company just as much and who are working towards the same mission is a great start to creating an environment that fosters a strong team spirit and culture that people are proud to be a part of. Besides, with today’s millennial generation on the rise in the workplace, this is becoming all the more essential and not just a nice added benefit.