Recently, I spoke to a business owner who was concerned about his Corporate Culture. He is in a highly competitive creative field and he offers many perks such as flexible personal time, wellness outings, and even a ping pong table. Yet, recruitment is difficult and he feels that his current employees don’t fully value the culture he has tried to create.
Corporate Culture is more than just a modern buzzword. It can be important to your bottom line by creating happier employees and a more efficient work environment. It can also help you attract talented employees that help your business grow. Culture transcends ping pong tables and open work-spaces, but these extras can play a part in how your employees relate to each other. Don’t mistake corporate culture for just a Millennial thing. Culture affects all age groups and can even help different generations relate to each other.
Define your Corporate Culture.
There are four categories that you should review when evaluating the overall culture of your organization:
Beliefs and Values
These core components encompass the overarching vision of the company. Is there a clear sense of purpose? Are the executives, managers, and rank-and-file employees all on the same page when it comes to your basic corporate values? Are all team members striving towards the same unified goal? Are the company’s core values being considered in major decision-making? Write down your beliefs and values and make sure your employees are aware of them.
Norms, Processes, and Policies
These parts of the culture govern the operations of the business. They can be formal policies or informal standards of acceptable behavior. Do employees watch the clock and bolt at 5:00 or do they work until the job is complete? Are the processes between departments formalized with open communication channels? Is there an employee handbook and does it reflect the actual behavior of the company? If your processes and policies are not fully understood, clarify them and communicate them to your employees.
Rites, Rituals, and Shared Language
All cultures have their own set of rites, rituals, and shared language, and organizations are no exception. Examples are employee-of-the-month awards, birthday celebrations, office acronyms, and casual Fridays. By having shared experiences and routines, employees bond together. Do you have traditions at your workplace that are valued by employees? Are new experiences added and accepted among the group? Are there common stories involving work victories and defeats which are told time and again?
Habits and Expectations
These aspects of the culture inform the workforce how to behave and can influence many behaviors such as dress code, email etiquette, and work hours. What behaviors are rewarded? Are negative behaviors discouraged? Are team leaders behaving as positive role models?
Direct your Corporate Culture.
Corporate Culture is not concrete; it is fluid and ever-changing. There is always room to improve an organization’s culture and if a culture becomes toxic, it can take a while to turn around. Use surveys to ask for employee input and be willing to listen to feedback with an open mind. Encourage employees to be active contributors. Changing a culture takes time and requires conscious thought and effort.
Culture is not just about ping pong tables and hip work spaces. It is so much more. A positive culture is one that fosters trust, respect, and dignity. It empowers employees to grow within the organization and take ownership of ideas and projects. It promotes learning and professional development, while discouraging toxic behaviors and poor work ethic. Culture can be the defining difference between you and your competitors. Focus on shaping your corporate culture and watch your employees and business thrive.