What is organizational culture, and why is it so important? print

If you own or manage a company, you need to spend time thinking about your corporate culture. A company's culture is their ‘personality.’ It conveys valuable things about beliefs, brand and desires, and it covers a wide range of different elements and aspects. Your culture can include your work environment, your ethics and your long term mission and goals. Your company’s culture will be reflected not only in the company’s clients and products, but also in your employees.

Some of us used to think that company culture was something that just magically ‘happened’ over time as you worked on your business. We used to think that corprate culture would be an mixture of your long term successes, products and press coverage, and that there was not much that we could do about it. As a manager, we would just plod along according to plans, and the culture would – ta da! – be there when we were done. This is certainly not the case! Your workplace culture is certainly something that can be worked on, developed and encouraged throughout the company, from your employees right up to you and your managing directors.

But why is organizational culture important, and why is it something that every employee (regardless of their position within the company) should get on board with? Read ahead to find out why your company’s culture is so important.

Why is organizational culture important? What impact does it have on engagement, loyalty and satisfaction?

People like to feel like they are a part of something larger and more successful than themselves. A strong sense of corporate culture ensures that every single employee feels that they belong to something bigger. This is particularly true if the company culture matches their own values and needs.

Those companies that have a defined culture will often find that their employees will develop better relationships and will be able to work better together to reach the long term goals that are defined in the mission statement.

Overall, company culture can really improve the loyalty that staff feel towards the company that they work for. They will want to work harder for the company, which increases productivity and makes the company an overall better place to work.

Take the soap empire Lush Cosmetics, with thousands of shops found all across Europe and over the world. They are experts at espousing a strong sense of ethics and culture, and they engage their employees with their pet causes and ideologies. Stewardship of the environment and animal rights are their main causes, and they delight in including their employees. This makes them feel like they are doing something valuable and ‘changing the world’ every time they come to work. This has helped to create a strong corporate culture and very low employee turnover for the retail industry.

How can you build and develop organizational culture?

There are a variety of ways that you can try to build and develop organizational culture within your company. One of the easiest ways is to ensure that you live and breathe your company mission and culture, setting a great example for your team. Even the members of your staff with the most seniority need to be aware of the culture that you have set out, and how their own actions can have an impact on other employees.

Once you have a culture set out, it is a great idea to make efforts to reward and recognise any employees who reflect this culture to the public, to their fellow colleagues and of course to our customers too. This not only ensures that staff feel appreciated and that their efforts are valued, but also that you are known to reward positive behaviours.

As a company, you should always make sure that you understand the dreams and goals of your staff. After all, your company’s culture should suit your needs, but if it can also benefit your employees then it will help to ensure your overall success.  

Remember – your corporate culture strategy should be carefully thought out, and should match your business. Any culture should reflect the kind of company that you want to be. If your management style is formal, then this should be the culture that you encourage. If you are a casual business, then make sure that you have a casual culture that your employees understand.

Having a culture that doesn’t match up with the way that you want your business to be presented is never going to work. Therefore, before you think about the type of culture that you want to have within your business, it is important that you think about the type of company that you are now, and where you want to progress in the future.

Are you a fun, wacky fashion brand? Your culture should be airy, trendy and open to change, just as fashion changes. Perhaps you own a plumbing business that caters to working class clients? Your culture should be ‘salt of the earth’ and focus on the local community, and you could even consider sponsoring local kids’ sports teams. Maybe you manage an ultra high tech firm? Your culture should be innovative, flexible and dynamic, never afraid to change.

When managers create toxic organizational culture?

Once you have your culture set out and you’ve determined how you want to implement it,  it is important to be transparent about what you expect from your employees. You should always try to lead by example, and make sure that you represent the culture whenever possible.

If you don’t follow the rules and the culture that you expect your staff members to follow, this can lead to your employees feeling unvalued or unimportant to the business. You should always want to avoid the impression that you have one rule for management and one rule for ‘lowly’ employees. This will spoil any feelings of goodwill that your team has for you and the company, and will poison your attempts to boost engagement. Never make this mistake – you’ll ruin all of your efforts.

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