So, just what is a company’s culture? How is it defined, and why does it matter? Turns out there is a myriad of information on this important subject. With so many of our customers looking for new employees and trying to keep the ones they have, I thought it might be a good thing to go into detail on the various aspects of company culture. We are going to explore this topic in 3 separate articles. Part 1: Company Culture Defined; Part 2: How to Assess Your Own Company’s Culture (to ensure it is welcoming for prospective employees and to help keep the good ones you have from leaving to go to greener pastures); and finally, Part 3: How to Assess the Culture of Another Company (so that if you are the one looking for greener pastures, you can have a better glimpse into whether the grass really is greener). I hope you will benefit from this 3 part series.
Part 1: Company Culture Defined
A company culture simply refers to the attitudes and actions of a company and its employees. It is the way an organization’s people interact with each other, the values they hold and therefore, the decisions they make. It encompasses many elements including the work environment, the company’s mission, ethics and values, its leadership style, as well as its expectations, and goals.
It can be deliberately cultivated, or it can simply be a result of the decisions that have been made over time. A strong company culture helps the employees understand what is expected.
For example a team-based culture emphasizes employee participation on all levels, while a company with a traditional management style will have job responsibilities clearly defined.
Small companies tend to have a casual workplace where employees often have the opportunity to take on new projects and additional roles, as a necessity of growth. A larger company may have more specialized employees, but there may not be as many opportunities to advance or learn new skills without going through a process.
As an employee, culture is important because you are more likely to enjoy your work when your needs and values are the same as your employer’s. If your values are aligned you are more likely to develop better relationships with coworkers and be more productive. On the other hand, if for example, you prefer to work independently, but are employed by a company that emphasizes teamwork, you are likely to be less happy, not to mention less productive.
As an employer, culture is important because workers who fit in with the company culture are more likely to be happier, more productive, and to stay with that company for longer, reducing turnaround and training costs. Toxic work cultures can actually be a cause of decreased productivity, higher stress, and lower profits.
Now that you know culture is essential to your company’s success, you may want to promote a more highly productive culture. In order to do this you have to take steps to assess what you have, then make the changes you need.