What is company culture?

Company culture is how you experience work.  

A company’s culture is the sum of how individuals behave at work.  It’s the individual micro-decisions you and your employees make on a day-to-day basis – how you use email, ​the importance of punctuality, etiquette on working ​evenings or weekends ​even how you negotiate with clients. These behaviours combined reveal how your employees experience work. 

In an ideal world, the dominant behaviours within an organisation reflect the organisational values. For example, a workplace that values collaboration would aspire to employees reaching across departments, finding new ways to work together and breaking down silos. However, delivering this experience can be challenging when there are humans involved! 

How individuals behave is influenced by trust and tone from the top. How leaders and managers handle difficult conversations, treat each other, promote within and conduct themselves in times of stress – will create the blueprint for the culture within that team. 

Culture isn’t a set of rules everyone behaves in line with – it’s about individual behaviours which are influenced by those at the top. 

Why company culture matters  

We know that companies with positive company cultures, as rated by employees, perform better across a whole range of metrics: 

  1. Productivity: Employees that thrive at work and enjoy the journey  are more highly engaged and productive. Stanford University’s Bill Sutton found productivity to fall by 40% amongst workers that had experienced bullying. 
  1. Employee retention: Positive company culture increases employee retention. Less employees will choose to seek work elsewhere if they feel happy their values align with those of their employer. Perhaps the Great Resignation is the most stark and recent reminder that employees will walk if the organisation isn’t able to deliver the culture that they expect and need. 
  1. Talent acquisition: Glassdoor’s survey of over 600,000 users of the site proved culture to be the workplace factor that matters most to employees, ranking well above wages.  
  1. Customer engagement: Customers find it easier to engage with businesses where the values of the business and behaviour of employees they interact with, are coherent with the purpose of the business. If these are in alignment, a customer is much more likely to want to interact. Customers are attracted to engage with a business through its purpose and quite rightly hope to find a culture to match.  
  1. Mergers and acquisitions: 70 percent of all mergers, acquisitions and organisational change projects fail, with culture cited often as the main reason. Clashing working practices, ways of operating, leadership behaviours and communication styles need to be addressed with the same level of rigour as the investment case for merger. And when misalignment is clear then investment pre-merger to align on lived corporate values and build trust between the leadership teams is key.  

Assessing your own company culture  

How often do you stand back and ask what is the culture here? 

A leadership teams’ view of the culture of an organisation can differ greatly from those on the front-line. Understanding how it feels to work at your organisation from everyone’s perspective is an invaluable source of knowledge. 

In order to be able to have open conversations about culture then an environment of safety and trust is needed. In our view, if employees are unable to tell you about your culture then park the cultural ambitions and first deal with the lack of trust. 

If you’d like a conversation with us about your company culture or you simply want to understand what Up Rising can do to support your business, get in touch with us via the about page or email us directly at admin@uprisinghumancapital.com. 

Next week’s blog, When Is It Time for a Culture Intervention? Will focus on culture intervention and knowing when it’s necessary for your organisation. To be notified when blogs go live follow us on LinkedIn.  

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