Company culture is a trending topic in the business world. And you’d be remiss if you haven’t gotten in on the conversation about it yet–but maybe that’s why you landed on this article. There are tons of opinion pieces on company culture, studies done on particular company cultures and even articles on how to build better company culture. You could spend countless hours on this very topic alone.
So what exactly is company culture? How does it form? What happens when you have a weak company culture? And how can you find out a company’s culture?
We’ll dive into this and more!
Company culture is the summation of shared values, characteristics, and behaviors of a company and its employees. It encompasses a variety of elements, including the work environment, company mission, values, ethics, expectations, goals, and leadership style. In other words, every company has its own personality.
The Pendulum Swings
Think of company culture as a miniature society within a larger society. And a company doesn’t have to be a city unto itself (think Google or Microsoft) for it to be a mini-society. Even small companies with 10 or fewer employees have their own personalities.
On one side of the pendulum swing are large multinational companies. Here, you may have thousands of differing beliefs and even mini cultures at each location, but even when employees are spread out, they still are all working toward the same purpose and have the same values, even if the employees don’t necessarily feel personally bound by them.
On the other side of the pendulum swing are small town, local businesses. Even with a small number of employees, they still often hold the same values even if there haven’t been endless memos or monthly team meetings about it all.
The Coffee is Either Weak or Strong
What makes company culture such a particularly fascinating topic is that it isn’t just a singular concept, but rather a combination of two ideas. The first is the expressed culture that a company broadcasts publicly. The second is it’s actual culture, or the way the people in the organization really act and how they treat one another.
In some cases, the two align and you have what we call a strong company culture. This is when leaders and employees understand and espouse the company’s stated values because they are reinforced internally through deliberate means, for example through trainings.
When the two ideas are at odds with one another this is when a weak company culture happens. This is because there is a disconnect between the stated values and what actually happens in the workplace. This may happen because the stated values aren’t understood or it could be even from a lack of stated culture. In companies with weak culture, it’s like company culture is an afterthought. The employer recognizes the need for a stated company culture, however they neglect their employee experience.
Why Does it Even Matter?
You might have the long-held belief that an employee should just keep their head down, do the work and retire after putting in 20 or more years with a company, no matter how much you like the job. But things are changing, which is why company culture is a hot topic!
It matters because good company culture between the employer and the employees has a lot of positive benefits. When company culture is strong, you see
- More productivity, which leads to more profits
- More creativity and an openness to diverse ideas, leads to better ideas that bring bigger profits
- Increased levels of employee happiness, enjoyment, and personal fulfillment (happy employees do better work)
- Decreased levels of stress and anxiety
- More loyalty to the company from employees
- A decrease in conflicts within the workplace
- More cooperation and camaraderie between employees
- A decrease in the time and resources spent on hiring because your employees stick around for longer
Think of it this way, would you rather work for a company that cares about its employees or one that treats them terribly? And which company do you think has the best chances for long-term success?
Employees who are happy at work are more likely to stick around longer. They also report higher levels of productivity, less stress, and feel more optimistic. Strong culture also means more collaboration and higher levels of employee engagement. Company culture is important because it is the literal foundation of every organization. And if that foundation has a bunch of cracks in it, well, you know what happens next.
How Can You Find Out A Company’s Culture?
So we’ve looked at company culture and the benefits of strong culture for both employees and employers. But if you are a job seeker, chances are, you’d like to avoid companies with a bad culture or ones with values that don’t align to your own.
There are several ways you can identify company culture. The first is to comb the company website for its mission and values. Next, do your research and find out what current and former employees say about their experiences with the company. You can also shadow someone to get a first-hand experience in the company. And lastly, you can take a culture assessment.
Say what? A culture assessment? Yes! But you need to take one that isn’t just for individuals but one that allows a company to test its personality. Workzinga does just that. To learn more about the Culture Alignment Assessment, by Workzinga contact our team, or schedule a demo today!