A company’s culture is the distinctive, unwritten, and informal code of conduct that governs its behavior, relationships, and style. This is the essence of “the way we do things here”. In many small businesses, culture plays as important a role as strategy in gaining competitive advantage. Culture has a powerful impact about how people work together in a company, how they do their job and how they treat their customers.
Company culture manifests itself in many ways, from the way workers dress and act to the language they use. For example, at some companies the unspoken dress code requires workers to wear suits and ties or dress business, but at others employees routinely come to work in jeans and T-shirts.
Although an intangible characteristic, a company’s culture has a powerful influence on everyone the company touches, especially its employees. Maintaining corporate culture begins with the hiring process. Beyond normal compensation requirements and competitive working conditions, the hiring process should aim to find employees who share the values of the organization. The process is continuous.
Creating a culture that supports a company’s strategy is no easy task, but the most successful entrepreneurs believe that having a set of overarching beliefs serves as a powerful guide to daily action. Culture stems from an entrepreneur’s consistent and relentless pursuit of a set of core values that everyone in the business can believe in.
As a new generation of employees enters the workforce, companies are discovering that more relaxed and open cultures have an advantage in attracting the best workers. These companies are embracing non-traditional and fun cultures that incorporate concepts such as business casual, team assignments, telecommuting, flexible work hours, free meals, company outings, and many other unique options. Modern organizational culture is based on several principles that are fundamental to creating a productive and fun workplace.
Respect for work-life balance: Successful companies recognize that their employees live away from work. A study of Gen X workers found that the companies people most want to work for have broken down traditional barriers between home and work life by making it easier for employees to manage the pressures they face in outside of their work. These companies offer flexible working hours, part-time jobs, job sharing, telecommuting, sabbaticals and services.
A motivation: One of the most important tasks an entrepreneur faces is defining the vision for the business and then communicating it effectively to everyone the business touches. Effective companies use a strong sense of purpose to make employees feel connected to the company’s mission.
A feeling of pleasure: For some companies, the lines between work and play are blurred. The founders of these companies see no reason why work and pleasure should be mutually exclusive. In fact, they believe that a workplace that creates a sense of fun makes it easier to recruit quality workers and encourages them to be more productive and customer-oriented.
Engagement: Employees who are fully engaged in their work are proud to make a valuable contribution to the success of the organization and derive personal satisfaction from it. What can managers do to improve employee engagement?
- Consistently communicate the purpose and vision of the organization and why it matters.
- Encourage employees to learn and grow in their careers and give them the resources and incentives to do so.
- Create a culture that encourages and rewards engagement.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Companies with attractive cultures not only accept cultural diversity in their workforce, they also embrace it, actively seeking workers from different backgrounds. Businesses today need to recognize that a workforce that has a rich mix of cultural diversity gives a company more talent, skills, and capabilities to draw from. For companies to remain relevant in this environment, their workforces must reflect this diversity. Who is better equipped to deal with a diverse and multicultural customer base than a diverse and multicultural workforce?
Integrity: Employees want to work for companies that stand for honesty and integrity. They don’t want to check their own personal value systems at the door when they show up for work. Indeed, many workers are proud to work for ethical and socially responsible companies. People want to look for an organization that makes a difference in the world rather than just making a product or providing a service.
Participatory management: Today’s workers are not responding well to the autocratic management styles of yesteryear. Business owners and leaders must learn to trust employees at all levels of the organization and empower them to make the decisions and take the actions necessary to do their jobs well.
Learning environment: Progressive companies encourage and support lifelong learning among employees. They are ready to invest in their employees, improve their skills and help them reach their full potential. These companies attract the best and brightest young workers, who know that to stay at the top of their field, they must always learn.