Quite often in business, the secret to success usually lies in the last place many people think to look: the day-to-day workplace culture. And some incredibly influential businesspeople have backed this up.
While one of the world’s most prolific entrepreneurs, Richard Branson, has stressed the importance of company culture to success on several occasions throughout his career, David Cummings, Co-Founder of the successful software company, Pardot, has said:
“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur”.
Powerful words. What’s more, a report by Deloitte shows as many as 94 per cent of executives and 88% of employees also think workplace culture is important to business success.
But before you can truly understand the ways in which culture can shape success and how to create a positive one, it’s vital to have an appreciation for what it really means.
Workplace culture is often defined as the combination of shared values, attitudes and behavioural styles across your workforce. Or, it could also be described more generally as the character and personality of your organisation.
All these environmental factors – no matter how finely they’re broken down – have the potential to impact the way your business operates every day – which can ultimately affect your services and client experiences.
There are many business benefits of nurturing a positive workplace culture. For example, it attracts talented job seekers who might be evaluating your business (whether online, through recommendations or during the interview process) for a rewarding and positive working experience.
Culture also determines how people interact with their employer and duties, which means it plays an integral part in driving engagement and staff retention.
Lastly, studies have also shown culture impacts employee happiness and satisfaction while other research links workplace culture to financial performance and productivity. And there are, no doubt, plenty more benefits to reap.
So, the question is, what steps can you take to create that all-important positive workplace culture in your business?
Communicate your values in your workplace culture
Along with your team, you should establish a clear set of values for your business to work by and then ensure that these are continually communicated to all employees, so they feel involved.
From the interview process and email communications to meetings and social occasions, there are plenty of opportunities to link your everyday business events and activities to real life values.
Hire people with a positive attitude and something unique to contribute
It’s often said that workplace culture starts at the top, but while this is true, it still takes the right team players to propagate your cultural ideals around the business.
So, when hiring, look for personable individuals with a positive “can-do” attitude. Other qualities of candidates likely to support a positive workplace culture include strong communication skills, problem solving capabilities and a collaborative mindset.
When selecting candidates, it’s also important to remember that hiring for cultural fit doesn’t mean everyone has to be the same.
Diversity of ideas and skills is highly beneficial to building a more engaged team who can bounce ideas around and tackle challenges.
Finally, before offering a role, you should consider assessing job candidates for their understanding and alignment with your business’ values, looking for any red flags along the way.
Invite feedback and new ideas
Providing employees with an opportunity to share feedback and any ideas they may have – whether it’s related to their job role, your business strategy or services – is an effective way to show that you’re interested and value their insight and intuition.
Better still, with more constructive and informed feedback, you’ll be more likely to avoid mistakes and improve performance. What’s more, fresh perspectives and new ideas are sometimes what it takes to keep things moving forward.
Focus on your leadership style for improved workplace culture
Take a moment to reflect on what your management style is and how it’s perceived by your team. Unsurprisingly, many behaviours and practices you engage in every day – consciously or subconsciously – could have a positive (or detrimental) impact on workplace culture.
There are too many positively influential management techniques and styles to list them all but here are a few for inspiration: Maintaining an open door policy, engaging employees by communicating business challenges and developments, rewarding and recognising achievements, offering working flexibility, showing humour and making sure you’re always across everyone’s role and priorities.
Delving into your workplace culture is a little like opening Pandora’s box. After all, it doesn’t take long to discover there are many strategies and initiatives you can incorporate into your business to improve its culture.
But with the benefits of a positive workplace culture widely known, there’s no doubt investing some time into reviewing your practices and adopting a few new habits will pay off in the long-term.