A strong corporate culture is something that interviewees are searching for when evaluating job offers. Since culture can massively impact talent acquisition and workforce retention, companies need to take an active role in creating the corporate culture they envision.
What Is Corporate Culture?
Even if you can’t put it into words, you’re most likely already aware of the culture of your workplace. How do you feel when you start work each morning? What are interactions between coworkers like? What values or behaviors do your leaders prize?
Corporate culture is the set of values that your organization exudes to your team, customers, and the public in general. It is not something that is printed neatly on a wall or a website. It is the shared set of values that the individuals and management exemplify in their actions and their words. If there is dissonance between a company’s values and the actions of leadership, team members will take note. After all, actions speak louder than words.
There are several types of corporate cultures and organizations tend to have a blend of a few different types. Some common characteristics that can help you determine the culture at your organization include:
- Caring. When leaders prove time and time again that they want individual team members to excel, you probably have a caring work environment. Team members take interest in each other’s lives and help each other succeed.
- Purpose-driven. Is your organization working together for a common goal that everyone believes in? Do all decisions and efforts need to map back to this common goal? You work in a purpose-driven culture.
- Learning. Companies that value innovation, novel solutions, creativity, and knowledge follow a learning culture. These types of organizations are accepting of mistakes as long as something was learned in the process.
- Enjoyment. Does your organization offer flexibility and independence? Do your leaders exhibit playfulness and spontaneity? These types of companies have a culture of enjoyment.
- Results-based. Companies that talk frequently about expected results and measured milestones are results-based. Pay attention to what is called out and praised in your organization. Is it innovative problem solving? Or exceptional customer interactions? If hard numbers are noted most frequently, the organization is results-based.
- Authority. Authoritative cultures place their confidence in strong leadership. There are clear hierarchical structures in place and boldness is a desired trait.
- Safety. Industries with high-risk tend to have safety cultures. This type of company always has a plan in place and is prepared for any situation. The type of individual who is promoted to leadership is realistic and plans ahead.
- Order. Companies that emphasize the need to have rules, customs, and predictable patterns fall into the order culture. Leadership emphasizes procedures and expects everyone to follow them precisely.
Sometimes corporations find themselves in a place or a time in which they need to make a switch in their type of culture to better meet organizational goals. The need to shift their organizational culture could be due to factors such as competitiveness in their industry, the demands of their customer base, or the needs of their team to retain top talent. Just because your organization currently falls into a particular category doesn’t mean leadership can’t influence the culture and incorporate new characteristics and values.
Why Is Corporate Culture Important?
When your team members enjoy their work and want to participate, maintaining high retention rates becomes a much easier task. If a company promotes a culture of wellbeing, then it can truly help employees become the healthiest versions of themselves.
Currently, it takes up to 90 days to fully train new team members so that they can take the reins of their tasks and lead effectively. This is a significant investment of time and resources and in some industries, this training period can last even longer. On the other hand, you could have other individuals saddled with too many tasks on their plate while a replacement is being trained. If there is a lot of turnover, the same people could be doing more than their fair share over and over, to varying degrees of success.
When team members do not feel comfortable in the workplace where they spend 40 or more hours per week, their wellbeing takes a hit. People who dread going into their place of employment are likely to lose sleep, contributing to other physical symptoms over time. An emphasis on the wellbeing and wellness of every team member is vital for all workplaces.
When a team member feels accepted, valued, and connected in their workplace, their performance will most likely be significantly better than a team member who feels bored, excluded, or unhappy. When there is a healthy company culture in place, there are a few significant results that improve performance.
- Greater innovation. When team members feel safe taking risks and experimenting with new tactics, amazing new processes are discovered. A healthy corporate culture provides a safe space for innovation.
- Efficiency. Remember when you had to clean your room as a kid and it took forever? That’s because you weren’t invested in the job you were doing. You couldn’t care less if your room was clear or dirty, so you probably got sidetracked playing with the cool toys you found along the way. The same principle applies to work. If your team enjoys what they do and the culture they do it in, they become more motivated and efficient.
- Customer interactions. Do your team members or sales teams interact with customers or third parties frequently? These interactions feel genuine and inspiring when the individuals are passionate about and enjoy the work they do. When your team members are on board with the vision, it’s easy for customers to feel confident in your business.
Characteristics of Successful Corporate Cultures
Since a corporation’s culture is often influenced by its values, these values need to have concrete goals to back them up. Is one of your values creativity? How will you keep this goal top of mind? Consider regular brainstorms or awards for ideas that have never been done before. Is trustworthiness a value? Employer retention may be a good indicator of this value.
Defined Structure and Expectations
Organizations that are caring, fair, and supportive to their teams find that those same individuals embody the values themselves. The example of leadership is a great way to set behavior expectations and influence the culture of an organization. If team members don’t understand what the company values are (or see that they are recognized by leadership), it is unlikely that those values will be ingrained in the company culture.
Set expectations that culture will be a regular part of your company discussions. Encourage managers to discuss culture with individuals in their meetings. Regularly highlight team members who embody aspects of the mission statement or values. When the desired culture is focused on regularly, individuals will rise to the expectations.
Forbes speaks to the idea of “servant leaders.” These are company leaders who aren’t dependent on a hierarchical order for their leadership status. They are people who are interested in being a mentor to their reports and are willing to do whatever it takes to build their team members’ skill sets and knowledge.
Work with your team to map out career goals and a path for professional development. A thriving company culture is one that encourages its team members to always be improving themselves and advancing their knowledge. Invest time and resources in shepherding each individual to bring their goals to fruition.
Employee health plays a huge role not only in the personal lives of your team members, but also the professional lives. Make sure your teams know you care about them as a person, not just a number. Think about ways you can involve nutrition, mental health, fitness, and stress management into the culture of your company. Keep healthy snacks in the break room. Encourage mid-day breaks to go on a walk. Have practitioners lead group meditation sessions.
Individuals that feel valued in your company, supported in their professional development, and encouraged in their physical wellbeing will thrive within your organization.
Your company benefits are a guiding influence on corporate culture. Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Talk to a wellbeing specialist today to discover new ways to take care of and engage with your team members.
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- Messana, Peter. (March 11, 2022). What Is Company Culture? Forbes. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/03/11/what-is-company-culture/.
- New Employee Training: Do’s and Don’ts for Every Manager. (November 4, 2020). Indeed. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/new-employee-training.
- Pratt, Mary. Wigmore, Ivy. Corporate Culture. (August 2020). TechTarget. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/corporate-culture.
- Shaikh, Kash. (October 7, 2022). Energizing Your Workforce With A Strong Corporate Culture And Servant Leadership. Forbes. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/10/07/energizing-your-workforce-with-a-strong-corporate-culture-and-servant-leadership/?sh=2111d96f4e4a, https://hbr.org/2018/01/how-to-shape-your-culture?ab=seriesnav-spotlight.
- Tarver, Evan. (September 2, 2021). Corporate Culture Definition: Characteristics and Importance Explained. Investopedia. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporate-culture.asp.
- What Is the Corporate Culture Definition? Seismic. Retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://seismic.com/enablement-explainers/what-is-the-corporate-culture-definition/.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.