Every company has a culture. So, whether or not you are putting effort into your company culture, one will exist. However, not all cultures are good. Get culture wrong and you could be hurting your business much more than you think.
Today’s organisations operate in a new exposé era. As a result, corporate culture is under the spot light like never before. This harsh spotlight is outing those who espouse poor cultural values (Uber, Weinstein).
In addition, businesses are wising up to the issue of cost. A recent survey and report on The Culture Economy by Breathe HR found that poor workplace culture is costing the UK economy a staggering £23.6 billion each year. The report highlights the importance of positive culture for both business success and for society as a whole.
Businesses are slowly getting on board with new models for business growth (Breathe’s report has several examples of companies getting culture right).
Understanding the importance of a positive company culture is the first step to success. So, how do you embed a strong culture into your business? Let’s take a look at what a positive culture is.
What constitutes a positive company culture?
Company culture is an integral part of any business. It is increasingly recognised that there is a strong correlation between employee happiness, productivity and a positive company culture. Great culture drives growth. So, what does a positive company culture look like?
There isn’t one defining feature of a strong company culture. Culture encompasses many different aspects of a company, from the beliefs and values of the business founders to interactions between management and staff and the environment in which everyone works. Every company will have its own unique elements of culture that differentiates it from other businesses.
Most importantly, culture isn’t things. It isn’t bean bags, pool tables or hangout areas (though these may be an integral part of the culture you are trying to create). Culture is more like the lifeblood of the company. Company culture can be described as an ecosystem. It is a complex network of values, belief, behaviours and the tools, equipment and environment in which directors, managers and workers operate.
How to embed a positive culture in your business
A positive company culture has huge benefits to staff, to the business and even to the community beyond, but embedding a strong culture isn’t simple and it can take time. Here are four ways you can start to embed a positive culture in your business.
- Determine and reinforce company values
Values define your business and set you apart from competitors. Your values may change over time, so it is important that you review them, as well as any mission statements and vision. Most important of all is that you continue to reinforce the values of your business every day. ‘Walking the walk’ is an old cliché, but it rings true. Living your company’s core values is the starting point for reinforcing those values in your business. Incorporate core values into every aspect of your business.
Meaning and purpose are more important to employees now than ever before. Employees care about who they work for. They want to work for ethical businesses who care about the community they are situated in. It’s one of the reasons why corporate social responsibility is so important to business now.
- Care about your employees
Showing concern for your employees indicates you aren’t just interested in how much profit they can make for you. It is really important that you say thank you, give recognition and listen to what your employees have to say. Employee well-being is paramount to business success. A review of evidence on employee well-being and its potential impact on business performance found that increased employee well-being results in improved labour productivity and quality of output, as well as better job satisfaction.
- Encourage positive communication
Good communication is essential for achieving strong working relationships. Investing time into how you communicate with your people will pay dividends. Clear lines of communication and an open-door policy encourages employees to innovate and share ideas. It also builds trust. Strong and clear lines of communication also help to build teams. It is important to give everyone in your business a voice. Poor communication is demotivating for staff.
- Give recognition
When an employee exceeds expectations, it is important that you recognise their efforts. Even acknowledgement and a pat on the back can be hugely effective in raising morale and improving productivity. The psychology of praise tells us that gratitude works to create good feelings. It improves self-esteem, makes us feel more relaxed and more optimistic. Recognising those who have gone the extra mile or done a great job is a big part of creating strong and positive teams.
When employees feel valued, safe, comfortable, trusted, and are given opportunities for growth they are more likely to be emotionally attached to their work. They perform better and feel they belong to something great. A healthy work environment starts from the top.