Company culture or corporate culture is not just a buzzword. With millennials surpassing Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, company culture can quite literally be an organization’s Achilles Heel, becoming the difference between steady employee retention and a labor shortage. As a result, it just makes good business sense to consistently evaluate your company culture.
If not a buzzword, what exactly is company culture?
A company’s culture is quite literally it’s personality. While your competition may provide similar services or make nearly identical products, your company’s culture is the unique fingerprint your organization—your brand—shows to the world.
It’s how your employees understand their work environment and management’s expectation of their performance. It’s also how your clients, and potential clients, perceive you. This can become the reason a client gravitates towards your company or the competitors. It all boils down to your company’s culture.
What Is Your Company Culture?
Company culture is not just a static mission or value statement. Your company culture is the experience of your organization. So, it has to be evaluated at all levels, internally and externally.
Can you define your company culture, can your employees? Can your clients?
Here are 5 ways to strengthen your company culture.
1. Talk to your employees. Remember, your company culture is a by-product of your employees’ perceptions of their work environment, expectations, and relationships. To assess and potentially change your company culture, you first need to know what kind of culture your employees (at all levels) think they have and what kind of culture they wish to see.
2. Look at the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. They are impartial and will tell you a great deal about the current state of employment in your company. Look at your retention rate. How long do employees usually stay with your organization? If you’re conducting exit interviews, what makes employees leave and where do they go?
3. Set an intention for your company culture. Use the information you’ve gathered and from a position of leadership, set intentions for what type of company culture you want to create. For example, in a FlexJobs Survey, 79% of respondents preferred telecommuting work opportunities and 44% sought an alternative or flexible work schedule. In this example, when you examine your employee requests, you may wish to set an intention to create more flexible work arrangements. Create intentions that are in alignment with your employees’ preferences.
4. Create a vision and involve your senior staff. Share these intentions for your organization with your senior staff and together, create a vision for your company culture.
5. Treat your company culture like a product or service. Company culture doesn’t change through osmosis. You’ll need to dedicate resources (time, money, and personnel) to achieve the corporate culture you envision for your organization. When this happens, you’ve created an internal company culture project, and you can set milestones and quarterly goals to assess and reexamine your company culture as often as you examine your bottom-line.
At the end of the day, your corporate culture can either be intentionally created and cultivated to attract and retain top talent and excited clients or it can be unintentionally produced and tolerated until you can’t pay people to work for or with your organization. In either case, there will be a company culture and everyone —both internally and externally—will know what that culture is.
You can’t fake an amazing company culture. It’s perceived and you either have it or you don’t.
If you’re ready to transform your company culture, ask your employees why you don’t have an amazing company culture and what they’d like to see. Start working from there.