Back in 2014, the word “culture” was the most popular word (according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary). In 2015, company culture was among the top content drivers for Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur. In the last few years, it’s morphed into “cultural ecosystem,” “culture code,” and “cultural inclusion.”
According to the Business Dictionary, the simple definition of company culture is “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.” A few of the most common words used to describe a healthy company culture are forward-thinking, dynamic, innovative, agile, visionary, and transparent.
Whether it’s putting people over profits, adopting an “open to change” philosophy, prioritizing learning and collaboration, or building an organization with a growth mindset, a healthy company culture does more than create a pleasant work environment. It also helps attract and retain the kind of job candidates that will help the organization grow and continue to succeed.
And yet, with all of the emphasis on company culture, it may be another addition to the growing list of top business buzzwords to imply a set of values that are not actually implemented or demonstrated. Culture is more than all-you-can-eat cereal bars, ping pong tables, and Frisbee Fridays. It isn’t what is written down in the employee handbook or posted on the wall in the break room.
These pale in comparison to an organization whose leaders create an environment where teams can collaborate effectively (even when split between working remotely or in the office) and where all feel welcome and valued. In an organization where the culture is strong, the employees feel valued, they enjoy a sense of autonomy – a driving force in the contributions they make to the team.
Culture is not what people say about your company; it’s not even how people feel about your company. It’s how they feel about their work, and the value they bring to their colleagues and the organization.
An organization’s culture encompasses the values, ethics, vision, behaviors, and work environment that defines that company and impacts everything from public image to employee engagement and retention. Companies with a healthy culture have highly engaged employees, positive workplace morale, and collaborative team dynamics – all of which translate into extraordinary outcomes.
A well-defined, inclusive, and positive corporate culture is the glue that binds an organization and its employees. This “glue” is what enables teams to overcome internal and external obstacles.
Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about new ideas and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day and culture is the guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is most of the time.
~ Anne Morris, HBR
Build your culture with intention; otherwise, it will build itself when you’re not paying attention.