Career Development

Guide to Company Culture

April 23, 2019

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A strong, positive company culture should function depending on the ultimate goals and needs of the organization and its employees. You've probably heard a lot about the importance of company culture but you may be wondering exactly what that means and how to improve it.

In this article, we will define what company culture is, how it can impact an organization and ways you can support it from an individual contributor or managerial position.

What is company culture?

Company culture is a collection of beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors that are sustained through a collective effort. Culture is what characterizes the organization. It may include the way relationships are handled between employees and customers, the values put forth by the company or the beliefs and attitudes held by members of the team.

Executives and higher-level management may or may not have a firm grasp on their own company's culture. Company culture might suffer, for example, if defining and maintaining it is not a priority. Most businesses have at least a mission statement, which is a good starting point to identify the culture and make changes to further develop the culture as needed.

A company's culture ultimately sets the tone for employee engagement and satisfaction. Without employees who enjoy and thrive in their environment, a business will likely struggle to succeed.

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Attributes that impact culture

Each organization’s culture will differ depending on its mission and core values. The main attributes companies should consider when defining their culture include passion, autonomy and performance:

  • Passion is important to employee loyalty and satisfaction. When employees are consistently passionate about their work and workplace, they tend to feel more united in working towards shared goals.

  • Autonomy should be prioritized among managers by trusting their teams to do their jobs well. A successful organization must understand that one of the key motivators for employees is feeling proud of their work. Empowering individuals to innovate and manage their own work is important to healthy, positive company cultures.

  • Performance is another attribute that impacts the culture of an organization. Businesses should recognize and celebrate high-performing employees for the quality of their work.

Core values and company culture

A company must have a strong set of core values that will shape the overall culture. Core values are a set of practices, ideals or beliefs that outline how the company operates, including how it grows, allocates resources and makes decisions. Identifying and defining the core values of an organization will provide structure and consistency. Examples of core values for a business include:

  • Integrity
  • Commitment to customers and/or employees
  • Honest, direct and open communication
  • Quality and reliability of product/service
  • Opportunities for growth and self-improvement

After establishing core values, business leaders can embody those values to implement a more defined company culture. In order to do so, the leaders of the company must live by those values and practice them every day. Setting goals and surveying employees can help leaders stay on track and maintain an atmosphere of accountability.

Additionally, new hires should understand the importance of the company's core values. When an organization has a team of strong, hardworking individuals who adopt the company's values in their own work, the company culture becomes stronger. 

Individual core values and company culture

Your core values can also impact the types of company cultures you look for when applying to jobs. If you're not sure what your personal core values are, think about the traits and qualities you most admire in mentors or leaders at work.

Identifying what motivates you can help you narrow down your values. Even your future career goals can shape the values you need to be prioritized in the workplace in order to achieve them. By prioritizing your values, it becomes easier to identify the right jobs as you search or make changes to the culture at your current job.

Additional benefits of a healthy culture

A stronger company culture brings a number of benefits to employees, as well as the organization as a whole. When a team can share their challenges and successes, the members often feel they are part of a collective effort inspired by a shared goal. A strong, healthy culture will increase productivity, employee retention and morale. Following a shared set of values will develop a culture that is fulfilling and inspires innovation. When a team feels more connected, the organization becomes more cohesive, making it less appealing to employees to consider leaving. 

When making changes to the culture of a business, seeking input from the employees is a valuable tool that can help the team feel like they're being heard and that their feedback is appreciated. It's well worth the effort to focus on company culture in any business or industry.