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Posted on December 14, 2017 | Jordan Alvillar
Written by Jordan Alvillar
Company culture—a term that elicits either a “yay!” or an eye-roll among leadership circles for companies big and small. Though some may believe that the focus on company culture has been emphasized or “trending” in only recent years (and selectively among millennials), Forbes points out that it has “become a popular point of discussion in the past 20 years or so.” This alone should illustrate that company culture is not just a fad, but an invaluable asset to a company’s overall success.
If you’re wondering if your company culture is working for you, the answer is a loaded one. To start, let’s go back to the basics and cover three things:
- What company culture is;
- How investing in company culture can recruit and retain key talent AND create long-lasting relationships with your clients;
- How you can boost your company culture in 2018.
What is Company Culture?
Known to some as “organizational culture” or perhaps just “culture,” I’ve noticed that the definition of this term can shift depending on who’s talking about it—some basing the term around a few ingredients (vision, mission and values) or sometimes more (vision, mission, values, work environment, staff recognition and social opportunities). Either way, I’ve found that the most appropriate summarization of this term is that company culture reflects the personality of a company.
To be clear, regardless if it’s been formally defined by company leadership or memorialized on a flipchart notepad with a magic marker—all companies HAVE a culture, whether good or bad. It’s not something that fresh talent will bring into your doors, but something that has existed far before they arrived.
Why is Company Culture Important?
Recruit and Retain Key Talent: It’s becoming clear that company culture is a critical piece to not only attracting the type of talent you want for your company, but will play a large part in retaining that talent as well. In fact, an interviewee will likely ask you about your company culture—aka, “will I like working here?” Additionally, it’s important for every company to be able to articulate what your company culture is, as it’s just as important for you to find the right employee-fit—after all, employees who fit into a company’s culture are more likely to enjoy the work they’re doing, will be more productive and will up the chances that they will stick around. That’s a worthwhile investment on its own.
Long-Lasting Relationships with Clients: Because company culture is the personality of your company, it’s also a way for you to stand out, not only amongst your employees, but also your clients. Company culture is more than just employee perks, but also speaks to your company’s vision, goals and how your clients perceive you and your employees. If your client’s identify with your company’s vision and image, that’s the first component in solidifying a lasting relationship with them (the other component is producing excellent work, of course).
How Can I Boost My Company’s Culture in 2018?
Step #1 – Pay Attention: While we know the work-day is always stacked with major to-dos, a casual walk through the office when your employees are hard at work can give you terrific insight into your company culture. Observe your colleagues at the peak of their work day—take note of how they interact with one another and the overall mood of the office. Do they seem stressed? Is the office full of chatter and friendly conversation? These are great things to take note of.
Step #2 – Ask Your Employees: Your employees are your most powerful focus group on this topic—after all, they live and breathe your company every day. Employee surveys are a great tool to gauge their sentiments around what would make their work and environment more enjoyable—and if they feel that the company is living true to its core values. Typically, these surveys are conducted by HR and it’s recommended that these surveys take place either every six-months or annually.
Step #3 – Make a Plan: After your HR department has shared with your leadership the main takeaways of your employee’s feedback, be sure you’re actually digesting it. Remember, these are your employees and you asked for their feedback.
It’s important to note that the culture of each company is going to be different. Is your company in a more conservative industry and you’re not quite ready to make the jump to allow beer on tap in the office? Is your company leadership still grappling with unlimited PTO and if it will be a good thing for your employees? Not every employee suggestion will be ready to take to the next step. Assess with your leadership what survey takeaways can best translate into actionable items that resonate with your company’s vision and values.
Step #4 – Take Action: Once you have established what actionable items are most realistic, develop a plan of execution, equipped with a timeline of deliverables and responsible parties to ensure these deliverables are completed.
Building a strong company culture takes some time so keep that in mind as you begin this process. It is not a light switch that you can turn on immediately if you are looking for a change in “office vibe.” We have found that company culture, from the design components in our office to the personalities of our professional team greatly impact the impressions we make and leave with our clients. So, take a look around and ask yourself “what impression does my company want to make?” and “what kind of culture do we want to foster here?”
- Jordan Alvillar