Company Culture – Why It Matters

Company Culture – Why It Matters

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It starts at the top.” Never is that more true than when it comes to company culture. Company culture, also called corporate culture, matters to your employees and your customers.

What is Company Culture?

Company culture is more than your mission statement or origin story. Your company culture defines who you are as a company – it takes all of your values, beliefs and actions (or inaction) and wraps them up in one big shiny package. From your marketing campaign to the minutiae of running your business, everything you do, and every decision you make helps define your company culture for your employees and your customers.

Company culture matters to current employees and prospective employees. Is your company culture one of intensity and 80 hour work weeks? Is it one where as long as the work gets done at high standards, your creative team can dress like they want and bring their dog to work? A culture where an employee or a prospective employee feels that they fit in with the company culture is one where those employees will work harder, stay longer with the company and interact better with their coworkers.

You as a CEO or business owner set the tone for your company culture. Call it your style, or your way of doing things, but you have the power to improve company culture by valuing your employees, and leading with honesty and integrity.

Your Company Culture Matters to Your Brand

Your company culture affects your customer’s perception of your brand. People like to do business with socially responsible companies, for example, or companies that fit in with their own values. On the flip side, if your company culture revolves around values a potential customer disagrees with, they will choose another company to work with. Some of these displays of company culture end up playing out in the media, for all to watch.

Starbucks

Recent examples of this would include how Starbucks handled the incident in a Philadelphia area store where a manager called police on two black men who wanted to use the bathroom while they waited for a business associate to show up. Not only did the company CEO apologize, but closed all 8000 company owned stores to hold “racial bias” training. Many industry analysts praised the move, while many people said it did not go far enough. But bottom line, Starbucks showed that its company culture does not allow for racial bias.

In addition, Starbucks made a confidential financial settlement with the two men who were arrested, and will provide them with free tuition at Arizona State University. The ASU college program is the same one Starbucks provides for its employees who work more than 20 hours a week.

Before the CEO’s announcement, many people were calling for a boycott of Starbucks, and holding protests around the nation. Today, Starbucks has positive brand recognition and its stock is routinely mentioned as a good investment.

Hollywood

Another very well-known company culture incident, or series of incidents, would be the Hollywood culture of sexual harassment, brought to light by the accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Those original accusations soon led to the “#MeToo” movement, which has seen the downfall of powerful men across industry, politics and sports.

The Hollywood culture of sexual harassment has been around for years. It was accepted practice because the CEOs at the top of the various companies did nothing to stop it, and allowed it to continue. It was only when the women of Hollywood stood up and banded together that the culture started to change. New policies are being put in place and companies are being held accountable.

Hollywood has a black eye, but as companies move to change the company culture, they will be able to hire the big name stars and improve their brand.

How to Improve Your Company Culture

There is always room for improvement in your company culture. You may be doing all of these things already, but look for ways to get better, and remember, you lead by example.

Here are some tips to improve your company culture:

  • Make sure your employees feel valued. This covers a lot of territory. Listen to their ideas and concerns, let them know you appreciate their work, compensate them fairly, keep their health and wellness in mind.
  • Provide employee development programs. No one wants to feel stuck. Development programs, employee training and business seminars all help keep employees learning and engaged.
  • Allow for autonomy and innovation. Don’t micromanage your employees. Take your team from being held accountable to embracing accountability.
  • Be flexible. Allowing for some flexibility with work schedules results in higher employee retention, and happier employees. For example, your policy can allow employees to leave early for school events or allow work from home opportunities.
  • Help everyone feel part of a team. Consider team building activities from games, to picnics, to work lunches. Be creative.
  • Remember managers and executives set the tone. Set a good example and others will follow. Be a mentor for your employees.
  • Be transparent. Keep everyone in the loop with communications tools. Allowing for collaboration and communication helps everyone work together more closely, because they can see where a project stands.
  • Ask for, and give regular feedback. Don’t wait for the yearly review to dump on an employee. Give regular feedback, with an end of project meeting, or feedback as you check in on certain project metrics. And ask for feedback about how you’re doing as a manager or CEO. This can be in person, or you can have a drop box for suggestions and feedback. And act on the feedback you get.
  • Stay true to your values and beliefs. Your values and beliefs guide you in your daily life and your company management. They speak volumes to your employees and your customers about who you are and what you stand for.

In Conclusion

Putting time and effort into developing an excellent company culture helps you attract and retain the best employees and puts your brand in a positive light with customers. It’s a win-win.