What does “company culture” actually mean? And why is it so important for companies to encourage employees to believe in it?

Essentially, company culture is what makes a particular company unique. Different from the crowd. Different from the competitors. Company culture needs to encompass the “universals”. These universals are the core values the company believes in, the behaviours the company expects its employees to demonstrate on a daily basis, and the actions they perform on behalf of the company. In more abstract terms, it is the “environment” that is generated by the individuals that come under the company’s banner. In other words, the company’s spirit. Its heartbeat. Its essence.

Benefits of enhancing company culture

This definition would seem to suggest we are dealing with corporate “health” issues. Establishing a “healthy” company culture is not only a pre-requisite for people working together but it is also an essential building block in a company’s well-being, both in human terms as well as business results.

There are several key reasons for establishing a strong company culture. First, “culture” should embed the company vision, purpose and long-term aspirations, building on the nominated values and behaviours the company promotes. This should of course be reflected in the company’s processes, procedures and everyday practices. These are fundamental for long-term growth.

At a second, more practical level, a positive company culture helps to retain employees and make them “happy” at work. This is the key to building a motivated, committed and high-performing workforce. In recent research on  , working in a positive work environment was the number one factor in job satisfaction (e.g. Anitha, 2014). This makes perfect sense. Company culture should reinforce acceptable behaviours between colleagues and strengthen important relationships between employees at different levels of the company, and critically, between a line-manager and reports. If company culture can act as a unifying force within a whole team, then team members will show complete trust with each other and will share information and best practice as a matter of course. The team becomes stronger.

A knock-on effect of this will be that team members keep on track with their individual as well as shared goals, and this will lead to higher team results. And, potentially, the team can out-perform the line manager’s high expectations.

Another important reason for establishing a clear, easy-to-understand company culture is to attract and recruit talented people. If people can relate, on a human level, to a given company culture, they are more likely to join this “community” and perhaps, even strengthen it. In this way, a company culture should be seen as organic and will evolve over time as new people are recruited and add to the company’s patterns of positive behaviour.

The next key step is to consider how the company hierarchy will embed this “culture” to actually enhance employee engagement in order to improve business results.

Enhancing company culture with employee engagement surveys, interviews and focus groups

On a practical level, the most obvious way of enhancing company culture is to find out what aspects of working life employees like and what aspects they don’t like. Employee engagement surveys are a great way of doing this and are crucial in establishing and maintaining a satisfied and motivated workforce. Nowadays, there are easy-to-use tools available to help companies do this. The analysis of this data can be enlightening. Simply get in touch with us here at Primary Colours Surveys to learn more about implementing a survey solution which is right for you.

Companies can improve company culture through regular use of feedback loops such as 1-2-1 interviews, focus groups and surveys to find out what employees really think about the organisation, its expectations, its ways of working and its leadership. A constant supply of honest feedback is invaluable. A company can discover invaluable employee attitudes, insights and observations on a variety of issues which can then be compared to the standards the company has set. If company culture is a “health” issue as discussed earlier, then every company needs these regular, health check-ups.

In periods of major change, such as organisational re-structuring, this dependence on a stable company culture becomes even more important. During these periods, interviews with key players can reveal insights on particular areas of concern, such as gender inequality, bullying or rapid staff turnover. These interviews give the company a chance to investigate these sensitive areas in greater detail.

Once a company has defined these relevant and sometimes sensitive issues, an effective way of focusing attention on company culture is using focus groups. These are useful in collecting authentic opinions and feedback which can be analysed and interpreted by experts. Independent organisations can conduct these professionally and give a company a real edge when it comes to developing a practical action plan going forward.

Companies can also drive their own “brand” of culture through incorporating this in the on-boarding and induction process. Important elements, such as some “must-have” behaviours, can be included in teambuilding workshops and used in the interviewing process.

With so much focus on end-of-year business results, it is easy for companies to lose sight of the building blocks that created the company in the first place. One of these “foundation stones” is company culture: the beliefs, values and expected behaviours that represent a company’s identity to the outside world.

Learn more with Primary Colours Surveys

If you’d like to learn more about how your organisation could leverage surveys, interviews or focus groups to help develop and enhance company culture, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our expert team will help you get started.