You may have noticed that many companies today are talking about culture. More than just a buzzword, "culture" is what defines how employees work together and the company's impact on the world around it. A positive company culture can attract top talent to your company, but poor company culture has the potential to drive them away even faster.
Here's a breakdown of company culture, how it impacts your business and employees, and how to talk about it with potential hires.
Company culture is the way that an organization functions on a day-to-day basis. It includes your team's values, beliefs, behaviors, and environment. In this way, company culture affects how your employees work together.
That said, "culture" is a subjective term that can be difficult to define and pin down. For example, political consulting firm West Wing Reports has 40 different types of culture within organizations.
It's important to understand that everyone defines their idea of what company culture means – and everyone has a different expectation of what it should be.
What does company culture mean for your business?
You can think of culture as the glue that holds an organization together. Company culture is essential because it encourages employees to work together and collaborate, leading to happier employees who feel more engaged in their work and perform better. It's not the only factor in your employees' happiness. Other essential elements include compensation, benefits, and growth opportunities.
How to talk about company culture with potential hires
Whether you're interviewing candidates or sharing information about your company culture, transparency is key to communicating what you want them to know. Here are a few tips:
Be honest about what you want out of potential hires. For example, if your company culture emphasizes a collaborative work environment, share that with your candidates, so they know what to expect from their job. You should also be direct about any policies or rules that will affect them – for example, if your organization is open-concept and employees are expected to work across teams, let them know that upfront.
If you're sharing information about your company culture, be sure to include the complex data around it. For example, if one of your company values is "Growth," link to a post or article on how other companies have achieved success through growth. If you want to share your company's official values, try sharing the methodology behind their creation.
Your corporate culture isn't set in stone – it can change over time, especially as you continue to grow. Share that information with potential hires, so they know what to expect if they're hired. For example, if your current team is open-concept, but you're planning on implementing more private workspaces in the future, let your candidates know why the change is happening and what they can expect.
You don't want to misrepresent how it actually operates as tempting as it may be to paint a picture of your company culture that highlights its positives. Be prepared to share information that isn't in your company's favor, too. No one likes a fake or inauthentic person – it will turn off your candidates and hurt your brand at the same time.
How does company culture impact your employees?
Company culture is important because it affects how employees interact with each other and the business. They rely on it, in some ways, to help them do their jobs.
Of course, better company culture doesn't equate to more productivity – there are many factors involved. However, happier employees tend to be more productive than those who aren't satisfied at work. Improved employee retention is also linked to company culture – employees are more likely to stay at their jobs if they feel like they belong and can work with one another.
How leaders influence company culture
As a leader of your organization, you have an impact on your company's overall culture. How?
Encourage collaboration. It's important to foster strong relationships between your employees so they can work together toward common goals. If you want a collaborative environment, make sure your current employees are the ones facilitating that.
Build trust. Employee happiness is linked to how much they trust their colleagues, managers, and the organization as a whole. That's why it's important to establish transparency into your company culture early on. From compensation information to more personal details like how the organization operates, make sure all of your employees feel like they're part of a safe and open community.
Train and develop. A thriving company culture leads to increased job satisfaction and workplace longevity, which is why you should hire for potential and invest in your employees. As a manager, you can help foster this environment by offering training and development opportunities to your team.
Other ways to influence company culture
If you're interested in influencing company culture at your organization, take a look at these other tips:
Seek advice from the top down. Make sure everyone involved in your organization is on board with company culture initiatives. From the CEO to the newest employee, set meetings or talking points to help your employees understand why company culture is important.
Visibility matters. If you work together in an office, consider the aesthetics of the environment. It can be as simple as adding a few potted plants to an area or placing happy employee quotes on the walls. Your efforts can positvely impact the mood for those who spend time there.
Value your employees' time. If you want your employees to value their time, lead that example yourself. Avoid long meetings and answer emails quickly – then share those steps with others so they're aware of how often it can occur.
Create opportunities. A great way to get your employees involved is by offering new experiences regularly, like partner lunches or volunteer events. As a leader, take the first step and show your employees how much these opportunities can help them personally and professionally.
While culture is subjective, it's important to have a clear understanding of your company's "identity." Not only will being clear about company culture help you attract top talent but it will also ensure that they know what to expect from their job based on how you represent yourself.