Ask yourself, as a bit of an exercise—what is your company culture all about? Do you have one (everyone has one—the degree of quality and development is a different story entirely)? Do employees appreciate the company culture? Does the outside world know what your company’s culture is all about? Do they have a positive engagement with it?
Whether your company culture is well-developed, barely definable or in need of a major overhaul, the underlying fact is that it is more important than ever before. From inspiring positive employee morale to creating a great brand image, companies are recognizing that their company culture is important both internally and externally. And if you want to take your company to the next level, it is time to learn how to create a great company culture.
From Roots to Present Day
Company culture is important regardless of whether your company is 6 months old or celebrating its 100 year anniversary. You should be cultivating company culture from day one—even if your company is two people toiling away in a garage.
One of the greatest benefits to fostering company culture from the beginning is an opportunity to celebrate and embrace the beginnings of the company—the core personality, vision, and drive that defined the most basic company elements from the outset. It is an opportunity to not only define culture from the beginning but also celebrate the early stages even 100 years later by pulling those defining moments through the fabric of company culture as it develops.
As a prime example, consider the Walt Disney Company. As a startup, its company culture was defined and driven through Walt Disney’s vision and laser focus—a definition that still drives the company more than 90 years later in present day.
Walt Disney’s focus and vision was so paramount to the culture of the company that it is still the very first story told throughout the theme parks, merchandise, motion picture development and animation. The attention to detail and experience that defined the early company remained paramount—and was reinforced every day through an adherence to a well-defined company culture. The public knows the Disney culture inside and out—it is synonymous with their branding and advertising as well.
Defining Your Company Culture
Every company will naturally have a different culture—and defining it should be an organic process. While company leadership may take the main role in the defining process, the entire company will ultimately work together to define the culture. Of course, the company culture won’t just be about the people either—it will be a reflection of the staff, core motivators, early history and vision, and the product brands. The right mix will depend upon the type of company and the various unique characteristics.
For example, a service-based business will likely depend even more on its staff to define its company culture than a product-based business—partly because its staff IS the product. Consider a company like Merry Maids. An entirely service-based business, its company image is largely about quality cleaning services by women who are attentive to detail and in neat uniforms.
However, don’t confuse branding with company culture—the company culture isn’t about the uniforms. It is, however, about the mission to provide quality cleaning services—and its well-defined culture helps foster care by its employees, which is evident in their appearance and public image.
The right company culture isn’t a simple formula—it is a mix of all the aforementioned qualities, driven by the end goal of motivating and encouraging positive growth and development. And there are plenty of different ways to go about improving your company culture.
Improve Company Culture
Maybe you’re in need of a bit of an overhaul—your current company culture doesn’t accurately reflect your priorities or internal make up—or your internal make up needs an overhaul and is leading to a negative company culture. In either case, you need to get the company on board and heading in the right direction.
Start with polling your staff on their opinion about the company culture—what it is, what it should be and what they would like it to be. The greater the disparity between answers, the more work you have to do. Look for trends and patterns—is there a majority opinion on certain features or attributes? Take the most repeated suggestions and interests (assuming they are positive and applicable) and prioritize them.
Finally, consider company culture-building activities to get everyone in the mix. This can include anniversary acknowledgements, company outings, rewards and appreciation events and even things as simple as branded-company promos. Consider the cost of company t-shirts to inspire a team mentality vs. not having a team mentality.
Pick items that coexist with your brand—and that will bring value to your employees. Don’t underestimate the value of making something “cool” or “desirable”. The financial difference between cheap promotional products and valuable items is not greater than the benefits of inspiring employee pride in the company.
Don’t Forget Your Public Image
With social media forever blurring the lines between public and private. Employees who are proud of their company and the way they are appreciated will share it with their networks.
The benefits to you may be endless—an expanded pool of potential future talent impressed with the way you treat your employees, positive brand exposure to potential new customers or even simply enhanced cultural development by your engaged, motivated staff.
Even better, your own company culture is shareable—and your marketing department will be thrilled to have behind-the-scenes content to share with the public. Whether it is a Pinterest board of pictures from company outings, the ping pong tournament’s company standings or a snapshot of individual employees sharing their thoughts about the company, these moments can get a lot of traction on social media.
You can even repurpose them for the “About Us” section on your website or include in your company newsletter. It will help humanize your company and make it easier for everyone—from employees to customers—to engage with your brand and promote your company culture.
From enhancing your vision to driving employee happiness, company culture is an integral part of your company’s success. Do you know your company culture? What do you do to foster growth?