Company culture tends to be something that you feel long before you see it. Just like when we meet someone new and start to get a feel for their personality, we pick up on the nuances of an organization too. As employees, leaders, and customers, we engage with companies that give us a sinking feeling in our stomach, those we feel ho-hum about, and some that make us genuinely excited, every day. If we’re lucky, it’s the latter we go to work for every day as well.
Positive company culture is invaluable
It’s difficult to put an exact value on company culture, but it makes a huge difference in:
- The talent your organization attracts
- Employee satisfaction
- Engagement and retention
- Employee and company performance
- Financial profits
You can develop company culture by focusing on key areas
When Experience Energy asked people whether they felt like they belonged at their company or not, 69% of respondents said they either agree or strongly agree. Close to the same number (64%) said their opinion was valued when they speak up. These things are linked, as are overall D&I efforts and workplace practices, such as benefits, training, performance management, and advancement policies.
All too often, leaders view themselves solely as guardians of productivity or task minders, when in reality, company leaders are actively cultivating the environment, for better or for worse. While accountability and ownership are important facets of the job, strong leaders are passionate about their work to the point of contagiousness, adept communicators, and effective coaches.
Not surprisingly, this type of leadership is referred to as transformational leadership, and countless studies have found it to be incredibly effective.
Mission and goals
When people do work they care about or that they feel is important, morale and performance improve. Researchers have tested this in a number of ways, but perhaps the most profound involves three groups that were all given the same task; to label medical images. One group was told nothing of what would come of their work, another was told their work would be shredded, and the final group was told they were helping medical researchers by labeling tumor cells. The latter group spent more time on each image, earning 10% less than their counterparts, and delivered higher-quality work.
The only thing that trumps those factors—purpose and potential—is play, researchers say. But, just as certain motivations can increase morale and output, some can diminish it too. For example, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and, as evidenced by the study, failure to see a benefit to the work, have a damaging effect.
Companies that create a mission or goals around one or more of the three motivators improve company culture and have better output as a result. Granted, we can’t all be labeling tumors for work, but organizations can and should demonstrate the value each role and individual brings. Engaging in service or volunteer activities can help too.
Code of ethics
There’s no need to name names; we’ve all seen the news. There was the bank with the unwritten policy that it was ok to open up accounts for customers without their knowledge, the automaker whose employees teamed up to evade emissions testing, the electronics company that engaged in accounting fraud, and the coffee company whose employees engaged in discriminatory practices. The list goes on. Obviously, we should each use our moral compasses to guide us for the sake of living right, but at the end of the day, operating with ethics is good business too.
We know what happened to these companies and others like them. Profits tanked, stocks plummeted, employees were fired and fled. Companies that create a code of ethics and authentically live by it simply do better.
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