Building and Promoting A Strong Company Culture - 14 May 2019

Building and Promoting A Strong Company Culture

"Culture" is a business buzzword these days. Businesses frequently talk positively about their 'culture', whilst disgruntled employees complain about it. Moreover, it's often claimed that having the right vibe or culture is central to business success.

But what is it? What does it mean and how important is it, really?

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to a company's guidelines and social ordering for how employers and their employees are expected to work, behave and act within the company environment.

It is so much more than a set of company values and creating a nice work environment (free fruit and bean bags only go so far). And it's not just about how the leadership acts.

It's about how a company gives its employees a voice, how the business promotes a healthy working environment and how the leadership team encourages certain attitudes, behaviours and ethics.

Why is it important?

Company culture can make or break a business.

At its core, the culture outlines how employees understand the company's values, missions, overall goals and how they work to achieve them. It puts everyone on the same page and provides the framework for them to actively engage with the business on all levels while achieving within it.

Outside of the employee base, how your culture is laid out can have positive, or negative, effects on company growth, sales and meeting deadlines.

Getting a company culture wrong often leaves a directionless approach to work and an unhappy workforce.

In fact, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that well-defined company culture is important to a business' success, according to research from Deloitte. This research also found that employees who claim to feel valued and happy at work also said that their company had a strong company culture.

Getting this right will make teamwork easier, improve the quality of work and make on-boarding a simpler process.

What can I do to build and promote an effective company culture?

The key to building and promoting a strong company culture is to make all guidelines and documentation that sets out the structure easily available. Educating your employees about your company culture is key.

Here are some simple ways to promote the right kind of culture in your business:

Focus on wellness

It's not easy to promote a positive work culture without healthy employees. You need your staff to be operating at their best, physically, emotionally and mentally. Focusing on what you can get out of your employees without considering the impact on them is a big mistake.

Employee wellness should be the core of creating a strong company culture.

There are very practical ways you can help. For example; provide healthy snacks and lunches, subsidise fitness classes, engage in wellness campaigns (such as promoting speaking to people to aid mental health) and offering support networks for those employees with issues.

So many aspects of a strong company culture come back to this idea of promoting "wellness" in one form or another.

Communicate and listen

As well as setting out how you should communicate as part of your company culture, communication should be something where you lead by example and create processes for effective, simple and inclusive conversations.

Keep your staff in the loop. Tell them what's going on, stop rumours and make sure everyone on is up to speed about how the company is doing.

Getting feedback from your staff is essential too. But don't wait for them to come to you. Create systems and platforms where you are actively asking for and encouraging open discussion with you.

Employees who feel they can't speak up, can become defensive and create barriers. If your staff don't feel they tell you what's bothering them how will issues be dealt with?

You can help this along by encouraging your managers to conduct regular one-to-one meetings. Consider sending out regular employee surveys and holding focus groups amongst different teams.

Utilising instant messaging platforms such as Slack and Jostle can aid easy communication and will encourage sharing and openness as a key part of your culture.

Make work social

Companies that concentrate solely on the business can appear sterile. Your employees spend so much of their lives at work and it'll be important to them that they enjoy their workplace relationships. People who get on, perform better together.

Make efforts to help nurture these relationships in and out of the office.

Much of this comes with trust. Trust your employees to know when to work and when to socialise. That conversation you overhear on the latest Game of Thrones episode might seem like shirking from work, but it could only last five minutes, be a needed distraction from dealing with a difficult client or be staff using a common interest to foster a connection.

Trust them to do their job and give them the freedom to enjoy the workplace.

Again, platforms like Slack can enable social activity at work. The Slack APP Donut introduces people who don't know each other well, encouraging them to meet for coffee, lunch, or as the name suggests "doughnuts".

It's also important to create a culture of "normal" working hours to encourage a good work/life balance. Make sure your staff have enough time to invest in the relationships they have outside work.

Encourage staff to organise company events, get-togethers and activities. Whether it is simply going to the pub for a drink or organised team sports it can all go to creating the right atmosphere.

Set goals

At the same time, it's not easy to create a robust company culture without clearly defined goals and targets. Depending on the size of the business, this should be created at a top level for the whole company and cascade down to each team so that everyone can work towards the business' overarching objectives.

This creates something for employees to work towards other than a pay cheque.

Goals should be created in a transparent manner and with the input of the employees who need to work towards them. Getting the input and feedback of those who will have to do the work will help you set more realistic goals.

Make positivity normal

Start by making positivity a normal part of your working environment. And lead by example. Encourage and promote positivity on a daily basis. Express gratitude, smile and remain optimistic during difficult situations.

Try to find solutions rather than problems and don't look to apportion blame. How you act in these situations will show your employees what is expected of them and will encourage them to act in the same way.

By considering and implementing all of the above you'll be in prime position to build a great company culture. Onwards and upwards!

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