The success of a company can be determined with a thorough evaluation of its products, services, and sales. As much as this provides some vital quantitative indicators, it is equally important to acknowledge that the greatest asset held by any successful company, is that of its employees.
Staff morale can sometimes be easily overlooked; however; it is inherently interwoven into the performance of a business. Employees actively drive the performance of all businesses as they are the ones responsible for carrying out the day-to-day operations. The ability of an organisation to retain and attract talented staff is indicative of how people view the values of a business, the support they offer, as well as its potential to develop staff members over time.
This article hopes to allude to how employees should handle the intricacies of company culture and what businesses (regardless of their size and staff complement) can do to cultivate a healthy and thriving work environment for their employees.
Defining Company Culture
Imagine any entity. It could be a school, a place of worship or even that of a sports club. Within each of these exist a set of formal and informal systems that govern the experience of those affiliated to it. Likewise, company culture is how you do what you do in the workplace. Particular behaviours and values are emphasized within different companies and speak to how a business views and wishes to conduct business within a specific sector, industry or geographical location. How things get done within the workplace is a direct reflection of both the conscious and subconscious culture that exists. In turn, this perpetuates the attitudes of its employees.
Evaluating Company Culture
Employees and clientele alike will assess the culture of a business when considering whether an investment (e.g.; time, energy, money) made on their part fits into certain personal philosophies. This could pertain to cost effectiveness, efficiencies or matters surrounding sustainability, to name a few examples.
Furthermore, company culture has the ability to decide matters surrounding employee retention and overall brand image. The culture of a company can also dictate how the attitudes of employees towards their duties and willingness to collaborate with other people and teams. The reputation a company holds internally, amongst staff; and externally, among the public, could ultimately influence the performance of an organisation. As such, it is noteworthy to ensure that a company assesses and periodically, reassesses its culture. Without performing the necessary due diligence, a company could lose talented employees and/or loyal customers over time.
What is your current company culture?
It might be difficult to describe your current company culture at the top of your head. Fortunately, this can be determined with use of an audit. The process should be undertaken by an unbiased and neutral third party who can making their assessments independently. Because core values are mostly unwritten or unspoken, it would be advisable to engage with as many employees as possible. One way this can be achieved is through using employee surveys.
These surveys could take the form of multiple-choice questions or written statements. Employees could be asked to rate their experiences and beliefs – this is one way of quantifying the data collected so it can be effectively analysed and interpreted.
The ability of an organisation to establish the perception of its culture from the view point of its employees fosters inclusivity and encourages those to participate in broader discussions.
Now that you’ve collated all the information from the audit, it’s time to consider asking yourself: “what is the appropriate plan of action?”
Effecting change is not a simple task. From the results of the audit, you may notice variables you might not have previously considered. Employee morale, as previously mentioned, is the fuel to the engine that runs your business. To operate a business at a high level, employee needs cannot be simply side-lined for the sake of attaining your business’ desired profit-margins.
For example, a work-life balance is something that has garnered significant attention since many larger businesses had employees working from home during the height of Covid-19 pandemic. Many employees have had the opportunity to have greater work flexibility – something which has embedded itself into the fabric of modern society.
Understanding that company culture is as dynamic as any individual employee is vital in maintaining a healthy and happy workforce. Dismissing the need for redress will ultimately lead to employees becoming disgruntled and opting to explore opportunities elsewhere.
Improving & Maintaining Company Culture
Change is something that must be sincere and done over time. Changing too much too quickly will likely cause distress among investors and employees alike. Improving company culture should be treated with much care and should be handled in a way that speaks to the previously completed employee audit. For example, if employees voiced concerns surrounding feeling excluded from certain decision-making processes or not being given a voice in the business; it would be counter-productive to make executive decisions in correcting these. A more amicable solution would be to encourage greater forum and discussion so that employees may feel their concerns were heard by awarding them the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations.
On-going communication, be it through formal lines of communication or more informal (team building/social events) is necessary to maintain trust and integrity within a business. The more connected an employee feels to the business, the more they will be willing to invest their time, effort and due diligence.
By setting the correct precedents in a business, employees will likely follow by example. Businesses that promote inclusivity will ideally create an environment for growth and sustainable improvement. These will translate into better outcomes for both matters of the business and the people working in it.