Company culture is essentially the personality of the company. Company culture includes your organizational attitudes, beliefs, values, leadership styles and more. It affects the way your employees relate to each other and to customers or clients. In short, company culture permeates every aspect of your organization, from the gifts you give employees to how you recruit clients.
So how do you know whether or not you have a good company culture, and why does it matter anyways? Today we’re diving deep into everything you need to know about company culture, starting with some statistics that show the importance of company culture.
Importance of Company Culture
Not convinced that company culture is that important? Don’t take our word for it: Believe the numbers instead. PwC recently released its 2021 Global Culture Survey, which polled more than 3,200 leaders and employees worldwide about workplace culture. Here are some of the survey top findings and trends of the past year:
- 67% of all survey respondents think that culture is more important than strategy or operations.
- 72% of senior management say that their company culture helps successful change initiatives to happen.
- 66% of C-suite executives and board members believe culture is more important to performance than the organization’s strategy or operating model.
- 69% of organizations that adapted during the pandemic say culture offers a competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, there’s often a disconnect between what senior leadership thinks of company culture and what employees think of that same culture. In the survey, 54% of employees said they feel connected to the company’s purpose vs. 77% of senior management. And the pandemic made things even harder, with 41% of respondents reporting that maintaining community within the company became more difficult during the pandemic. We’ll explore ways to overcome both of these disconnects.
Where Does Company Culture Come From?
There are many different aspects of company culture; however, there are some common elements of culture that we definitely wanted to cover to help you get started about what culture your business has. Here are some culture dynamics you should consider:
- Individual vs. team: Focusing on the individual and their accomplishments vs. focusing on the team and how they work together as a whole
- Competitive vs. cooperative: Trying to be the best and one up others vs. working together as a team to achieve a common goal
- Stable vs. nimble: Firm, steady, not changing quickly vs. pivoting constantly and, maybe, chaotically
- Innovative vs. traditional: Constantly pushing for change and looking toward the future vs. building on the past and upholding business conventions
- Flat vs. hierarchal organization: Very little hierarchy and downplaying authority vs. many layers of hierarchy and lots of managers who report up
- People vs. task orientation: Putting people first vs. putting processes first when making business decisions
- Level of urgency: How quickly decisions need to be made and projects need to be completed; this may be driven by industry needs but internal culture also contributes to it.
In addition to these elements, most teams have certain departments or areas that they prioritize over others. For instance, a D2C eCommerce company will probably put a lot of emphasis on the marketing department and promotional products, while an innovative energy company will really pour a lot into R & D. Different departments and teams will also develop their own subcultures that have their own specific personality distinguishable from the overall company culture.
Keys to Building a Great Company Culture
At this point, you are probably wondering how you can build a great company culture from scratch or change an existing culture that isn’t so great. Here are some essential principles to keep in mind as you build your company culture:
- Make a list of your ideal company values and describe what company culture would result. If you already have an existing company, compare your ideal company culture to the current one to see where the differences lie.
- Ask your employees what they think the company culture is and how it could be improved. The best way to do this is an anonymous survey so that you will get more honest and genuine responses. You can even give out corporate swag in order to incentivize feedback as long as you keep the responses anonymous. Be prepared for some hard but illuminating truths as you sift through the responses and find out what your employees really think.
- Look to senior leadership to lead the culture change from the top down. If some of your senior leaders don’t exhibit the values that you want your company to have, then you might need to think about bringing in some new leadership that does. The culture change has to come from both the top down and the bottom up, so if your senior leadership is undermining you, then you probably won’t be successful in changing the culture.
- If you work at an existing company, create a plan to change your culture for the better. This initiative can be spearheaded by your HR department, or you might want to hire an outside consulting firm that specializes in culture change (if you have the budget, that is, research them and know for sure they are trustworthy). Be transparent with your employees about the process and give them updates along the way.
- During the hiring process, look for candidates who fit your ideal culture, not your existing one. By prioritizing a culture fit with what you want your company to be like, you will slowly change the organization with every new hire, slowly strengthening a way of doing things.
Company culture is essential to having a strong, healthy organization with satisfied employees and low turnover. It takes a lot of work to define and change company culture, but you will reap the benefits in the long run, making it so worth it in the end.