How To Build A Strong Organizational Culture
Do you know what a strong organizational culture can do for your brand?
Company culture has existed for as long as there have been companies, but it’s only recently that people have started really focusing on what it takes to have a great culture at work.
In today’s workplaces, organizational culture is actually more important than ever before. We now have remote workers, online communication, and rapid growth for businesses in many industries.
With a strong organizational culture, you can make sure all your employees are on the same page, even if they’re rarely in the same room. And, as your business grows, you can ensure that this core foundation will help your company stay strong.
From employee retention to customer satisfaction, there are countless things that a strong organizational culture will improve. Read on to find out why company culture matters so much – and how to build a strong one at your company.
What Is Culture?
Culture is, in essence, the way things run at your business.
Ultimately, you can have all the documents in the world that tell employees how to behave, but if those actions aren’t reflected in actual workplace behaviour, they aren’t really a part of your culture.
Culture is created in part by things like your mission statement, employee handbook, and other documents that make up your approach to running the business, but organizational culture really is the way things happen at work on a day-to-day basis.
It’s how employees communicate with each other. It’s how management gives reprimands to an employee they supervise. It’s in the tone of all-staff emails and meetings.
Another way to look at it is that culture is your company’s personality. Some companies have a fun, laidback culture. Others have a strict, old-fashioned culture.
The leaders in the company have the most responsibility for creating culture. Employees – and customers – will look to them to get a feel for what the brand’s really like.
Why Strong Organizational Culture Matters
What’s so important about culture?
You might think that getting your product in the hands of customers is the most important aspect of running a business. But when you don’t pay attention to company culture, you’re missing out on important opportunities.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having a strong culture in the workplace.
1. Establishes Identity
In the modern day, brand stories are more important than ever before.
Consumers don’t just want to know what you sell. They want to know your story, your ethics – what makes the business tick.
Stories are memorable. They give people a way to form an emotional attachment to a brand. Even employees appreciate brand stories – they want to work for a company they can truly identify with.
Your company culture is a foundational part of having a brand story. You can’t have a great brand story without a sense of your organizational culture.
Culture establishes your brand’s identity – it lets people know what the company’s values are. Although culture is not the same as a brand story, it’s the first step in helping people understand what your business is all about.
For example, maybe your company sells healthy bottled smoothies. Health should then be a part of your company culture – you might provide information about nutrition to employees, or provide a meal catered by a fresh organic restaurant.
When it comes time to develop the brand story, you’ll have much less work to do, because your brand has already established its identity through culture.
2. Improves Employee Retention
Employees are much more likely to stick around at a company with a strong organizational culture. Culture helps them understand what the company’s priorities and expectations are.
It also helps you attract better employees from the start. People gravitate toward a brand they can identify with, both as consumers and as employees.
Organizational culture lets your employees feel a sense of belonging. When workers feel like unimportant cogs in a wheel, they’re not likely to stick around. When they feel like an important part of an overall culture that resonates with them, they’ll likely stay for the long term.
3. Boost Customer Loyalty
Just as with employees, customers are more likely to be loyal to a brand they identify with.
If your company has a weak organizational culture, you won’t be able to hide it from customers. Culture affects your employees, which in turn can affect the way they communicate with customers.
But if your company culture is clear and strong, customers will see the positive results and be more likely to keep coming back for more.
How to Build Great Culture
As mentioned above, culture doesn’t just live in the employee handbook or training guide. Culture is about how things are done at work every day.
Each company will strive to have a slightly different culture, depending on what’s best for that business and that niche.
However, there are a few best practices that can always help grow a strong organizational culture in any business. Let’s take a look at what those are.
1. Be Transparent
A murky company that hides important information from employees doesn’t have strong organizational culture.
It increases morale and loyalty when employees are kept in the loop. Knowing the current state of affairs, as well as being alerted to any impending changes, keeps everyone on the same page.
Have all-staff meetings or emails in which key company metrics are provided for everyone. Help employees understand the strategy behind decisions.
Communication is an important part of transparency. Encourage questions, ideas, and feedback from all employees.
Don’t expect employees to always come to you on their own with questions or concerns. Instead, provide designated times and spaces for them to do so, such as an anonymous chat option or a Slack channel where open-ended discussion can thrive.
2. Provide Work-Life Balance
The culture of overwork is not a sustainable one. Employees won’t stay with a company that always expects them to sacrifice their health and happiness in exchange for long hours at work.
Employee perks like an in-office gym and restaurant are great, but they can never take the place of going home at the end of the day.
Long hours may be necessary during crunch times. But at other times, encourage employees to keep work to 40 hours a week and go home at the end of the day. Provide the time off they need to take care of personal matters.
Also, avoid after-hours work correspondence as much as possible. Save the 10 pm work email for when it’s truly urgent. If it’s not urgent, let it wait until morning, and give your employees time to disconnect.
3. Encourage Empowerment
Strict top-down management is not an aspect of strong organizational culture. Your employees will thrive on trust and freedom, not micromanagement.
You should hire great employees that are capable of working without being watched. Then, step back and let them do what they do!
Give guidelines for projects, but avoid unnecessary step-by-step guides. Remember that everyone works a different way.
Give people the freedom to challenge themselves, solve problems, and grow with the business. You’ll have happier employees that stay longer – and they will also produce much better work.
4. Give Space
Did you know that the traditional open office can actually hinder the strength of your company culture?
Some extroverted people can work well in an open office, with consistent chatter and noise. However, most do their best work if there’s a space available for them to close a door and get some privacy.
Taking efforts to make your employees comfortable shows that your company has strong organizational culture. From rearranging an office plan to allowing for some people to work remotely, there are many ways to do this.
5. Communicate With Customers (and Employees)
Your customers can sometimes give you the best perspective on how strong your company culture is.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should ask them directly what they think about your brand’s culture. However, they can help you get a feel for what works or doesn’t work with your product or service.
This helps your culture by helping you pinpoint the problem. Without this specific customer feedback, it can be easy to blame employees for issues that aren’t their fault.
It’s also helpful to maintain open communication with employees, not just when there’s a problem, but at all times.
Communicate with employees on a regular basis without a plan in mind. Get a feel for their day-to-day work life. This helps you get a feel for how your organizational culture is resonating with them, so you can make changes when you need to.
Grow Your Business by Building Culture
Culture is essential for a healthy company. Some businesses do grow rapidly without establishing a strong organizational culture, but this often sets them up for failure in the long term.
The most successful businesses work on developing their culture every step of the way.
When you first start your company, it can take time to develop a sense of what your organizational culture will be. However, if you keep it in mind from the start, you’ll have more success refining it later.
Ready to grow your business – and the culture with it? Read more about scaling up your company on our blog.