Working in the workplace wellness industry, business owners ask us all the time: What's the deal with culture? It's a fair question, because while lots has been said about organizational culture, it can still remain somewhat of a mystery.
In this article, we'll cover what company culture is, how it's created, and what it means for you business. Finally, we'll cover a few key ideas to get started shaping your company culture to the best it can be.
Company Culture Definition: What Is It & Who Cares?
Culture refers to the social expectations, rules, customs, values, and habits of a group of people. In a business setting, culture refers to both what it's like to work at a company, and also the customer's experience of the service, people, or products of the company.
And somehow, we've become culture obsessed.
By and large, more people are expecting more from their jobs than their parents did.
Focus on Organizational Culture Means Employees Expect More
The paycheck is as nice as it is necessary, but employees now expect their workplace to not completely suck. That's where all this talk about culture comes in.
In the workplace, organizational culture affects how employees feel about their jobs, their coworkers, their managers and the work they do everyday.
Because we've become culture-obsessed, employees are likely to change companies because of culture.
And not only are your current employees paying attention to culture, but prospective employees are as well. It seems you can't read a job description anymore without some mention of the company's culture.
There's a reason for that: job applicants know they can do what you're asking, but do they want to hang out with the people in your company all day? The question of a culture-match is becoming more of a deal-breaker than ever before.
Is Organizational Culture Created On Purpose or Does It Come Naturally?
To some degree, it's both. A company's written values and mission statements point to the kind of culture they'd like to have (even if it's not one they have yet).
These kinds of standards will shape the type of applicants who respond to a job opening.
In this way, the people you hire help to create the culture, for better or worse.
However, it's not really that cut and dry.
Company leaders may want to instill certain values and behavior standards on a group of employees. But if it's a sudden change, in which management didn't ask for employee input, the attempted changes won't stick. Even if the values and behavior are largely positive -- it's all about getting employee buy-in.
How Culture Affects Productivity
Productivity is the efficiency with which work gets completed, or products are produced. A productive company saves money over a non-productive company for obvious reasons: The less you have to spend to create and deliver your product or service, the more money the business makes.
But the answer isn't to make employees work their fingers to the bone in hopes of being more productive. That will tend to be counter-productive. That's when employees get burnt out -- and ultimately, they don't perform as well, they quit, or they get fired.
The iconic image of a foosball or ping pong table in the breakroom speaks to this issue. We all know that we tend to do better work when we can have a fun outlet. A little break from work tends to hit the reset button on creativity, focus, and yes, productivity.
This could be why more companies are adopting policies of unlimited paid vacation days. Talk about culture shock.
Making Culture Work For You
Knowing all this about culture, what are you going to do with it?
There are a few ways you can see if your company culture is all that it could be. (Read this: 4 Little Changes That'll Make a Big Difference With Your Company Culture)
A great first step is to survey your employees to see what's working and what's not. Are people happy at the company? What could make things work better? Getting the conversation started is your first step.
Learn from other HR Directors about what works best at their company. Here's a great resource for that: "Culture Starts at The Top:" HR Leaders Talk Culture and Retention [video]
Ultimately, making culture a key area of focus can transform your business if you let it.