What is Company Culture — and Why is it So Important?
September 1, 2021
By Guest Contributor
If you want to take your business to the next level, one of the best ways to do it is to focus on your company’s culture. The culture at your business can have a positive impact on everything from work environment to productivity to employee morale.
But what, exactly, is company culture? Why is it so important? And what are some ways you can build a strong team culture within your organization?
What is company culture?
In recent years, company culture has been associated with Silicon Valley startup-inspired perks like catered lunches, craft beer on tap, and ping-pong tables and video game consoles in the break room. But culture is so much more than that — it’s who your company is, it’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors — everything that make up the DNA of your organization.
There are a few different elements to company culture, including:
- Your company’s values and ethics. Your mission, ethics, and core values are what drives your organization to do the work it does in the world — and they’re a key element of your company culture.
- Your work environment. What it’s like to work at your company — including things like employee benefits, salaries, and the day-to-day interactions between your leadership team and employees — is also a core part of your company culture.
- Your management style. Do your leaders encourage collaboration and teamwork — or does your company have an “every person for themselves” mentality? How your leaders manage their teams plays a huge part in the overall work culture at your company.
- Your organizational type. Identify your specific organizational culture — clan, hierarchy, adhocracy, and market — and build your team culture to suit that. Examples of organizational culture can be found in How to Reward and Recognize Employees with Different Types of Organizational Culture.
Why is having a strong company culture so important?
Now that you understand what company culture is, let’s jump into why it’s essential if you want your business to thrive.
There are a number of reasons why building a strong organizational culture is a must, including:
- Having a great company culture is important to talent…Company culture is extremely important to employees; According to Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey, 37 percent of workers say company culture is “very important.” So, if you want to hire and retain the top talent in your industry (a must if you want your business to thrive), you need to make culture a top priority.
- …and if your organizational culture doesn’t measure up, it could have a negative impact on hiring and retention. As mentioned, a strong company culture can help you attract and retain top talent — but if your corporate culture is lacking, it could have the opposite effect. According to a 2018 study from global staffing firm Robert Half, 35 percent of workers would turn down the perfect job if they didn’t feel it was a cultural fit. And the 2018 Employee Retention Report from management platform TINYPulse found that employees who rated their company culture poorly were 24 percent more likely to leave for another opportunity within a year.
- A strong workplace culture can drive employee engagement. When employees are on board with your culture, it fosters team culture and leads to more engaged, happy employees — which can have a hugely positive impact on your business. According to the 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, engaged employees are 17 percent more productive and have 41 percent lower rate of absenteeism than their disengaged counterparts.
How can you build a strong corporate culture — and attract and retain top talent in the process?
You know what company culture is. You know why it’s important. But how do you build the kind of company culture that makes people excited to work for your business? If you want to know how you can build or improve your company culture in a way that makes people excited to work for you, the best thing you can do is ask your employees.
Survey your existing employees and ask them what they want and need from their workplace culture, what they value about your corporate culture, how they perceive your team culture — and, just as importantly, what they’d like to see improved. Gather as much intel as possible on what kind of culture the talent you want to work with is looking for — and then take the steps to create that culture within your organization. And, when you’re interviewing potential new hires, ask what they’re looking for in a culture.
Work your culture into every aspect of your business
If your team can’t explain your company culture, it’s not strong enough — and it needs to be better integrated into your day-to-day business operations.
Your culture should be evident in everything you do at your company. For example, your culture should be clear throughout the hiring process — and when you hire people, they should know exactly what kind of culture they’re signing up for (and be excited to be on board). And to increase your retention rates, here's an article that outlines four things to keep in mind during onboarding.
When you’re strategizing where you want to take your company next, your culture should play a part in the decision-making process. When you’re hosting an all-hands meeting, crafting a new PTO policy, setting your company’s goals for the quarter, planning a holiday event for your team...whatever you’re tackling at your business, you need to think about whether it’s aligned with your company culture.
So, for example, let’s say you want to build your company culture around teamwork and collaboration. If you wanted to integrate that culture into your quarterly company-wide meeting, you might have each of your departments present at the meeting to review their progress over the quarter — and then schedule a separate meeting with the heads of each department to discuss how their teams can work together and collaborate during the upcoming quarter. If employee well-being is an integral part of your company culture, you might showcase that to your employees by offering perks like gym memberships or free meditation classes or hosting workshops on wellness issues like work-life balance or better dealing with workplace stress.
The point is, the more you work your culture into every aspect of your business, the stronger that culture will become — and the more that culture will help you attract and retain the right employees for your business.
Share your culture from the get-go
Your employees should get a sense of your culture from day one. So, if you want to build a strong company culture—and get your team on board with that culture — you should integrate the culture into your team from the very beginning.
Your new employees got a sense of your culture during the interview process (otherwise, they might not have decided to work for you!). The onboarding process is your first opportunity to make a real impression on your new hire after they accept your company’s offer — and you need to use that opportunity to reinforce your company’s culture and why it’s a fit for them.
Schedule aside a solid chunk of time during your onboarding process for culture-related training. For example, if you’re building a company culture around collaboration, take your new hire through the office to meet and talk to the different teams they’re going to be working with — and have each team present the different collaboration opportunities they’ll have for your new hire in the first 30, 60, or 90 days of their employment. If your culture is all about growth, incorporate an employee development conversation into your onboarding — and sketch a map for where your employee is now, where they want to go with their career, and how you’re going to help them get there.
Your new employee’s experience of your company culture begins on their first day of work — and if you want them to align with that culture, build trust and engagement during onboarding process by placing a focus on culture right from the start.
Focus on your mission and values
Employees want to work at a company with shared values — so much so that they’re often willing to take a pay cut to do so. According to the TINYPulse report, employees who believe their company has a higher purpose beyond profits are 27 percent more likely to stay with the organization — and were 24 percent less likely to leave the company for a 10 percent salary increase.
So, if you want to build a strong team culture, focus on your values. There are plenty of ways to incorporate your values into your culture.
For example, let’s say one of your company values is sustainability. In that case, you would want to bring sustainability to the forefront of your daily operations by doing things like only using recycled and sustainable materials in your office, sending quarterly emails to your team that outline how you’re working to lower your company’s carbon footprint, or scheduling regular volunteering events where your team has the opportunity to contribute to sustainability efforts in a sustainable way (like participating in a local trash clean-up).
Or let’s say your main company value is integrity. If you want to build a culture around integrity, it needs to be lived within your organization. For example, when a team member makes a mistake, they need to feel safe enough to share that mistake and how they plan to fix it — and leadership needs to take the lead in modeling that behavior.
Bottom line? Employees want to work with mission-based companies — and if you want to attract top talent and reduce turnover, you need to make your mission and values a cornerstone of your corporate culture.
Get out there and build a culture that takes your company to the next level
A strong company culture is a key element in any successful company. And now that you understand the importance of workplace culture (and how to build a strong culture within your organization), all that’s left to do? Get out there and build the kind of culture that will not only make your company strong but have your industry’s best talent excited to work for you.
(This article was first published from hourly.io. It has been edited and reposted here with permission.)