Organizational culture is known as the self-sustaining pattern of behavior that determines how things are done. It is best described as a group’s shared beliefs, language, systems, values and behaviors—it directly affects the way its members deal with each other and the people it serves. Culture is the invisible force that holds together or breaks apart an organization.
According to various studies, a large portion of employers feel that their culture is where it needs to be, but in comparison to the number of employees that feel otherwise, there is a disconnect. Culture affects every business from startups to professional sports teams, and if it is not managed, it can lead to retention issues as well as bad brand reputation — both will put you at a disadvantage when it comes to employing talented individuals in a tight labor market.
To put data behind an a challenging concept to measure like company culture, a ten-year study from Queen’s University Centre for Business Venturing used engagement studies and company results and found that organizations that possessed an engaged culture had:
• 65 percent greater share-price increase
• 26 percent less employee turnover
• 100 percent more unsolicited employment applications
• 20 percent less absenteeism
• 15 percent greater employee productivity
• 30 percent greater customer satisfaction levels.
With all this data, how do companies take the first steps to improve culture?
First, evaluate the current culture and performance of your business. Just as your body gives external warning signs for internal conditions, if you have a higher than normal turnover rate chances are, there is a problem within your business. Also, studies show that culture has the propensity to influence production. Check production levels across the board from executive levels to hourly employees. Dropoff, or stagnation, should point to a concern.
From there, review what employees or customers are saying about your company via social media or online reviews. Often times, the most authentic comments about businesses are from those who have nothing to gain or lose.
Define, Then Reinforce What Your Company Stands For
Mission and vision statements, company slogans, and mantras are pillars that summarize a company’s identity. They demonstrate your organization’s values to both employees and the general public while differentiating between you and your competitors. Intrinsically, it is culture defining. According to Crans, Gaich, and Hisscock (2009), “for the truly committed, the mission statement becomes a mantra that is imprinted on his or her heart, against which every possible course of action is weighed and measured. It becomes the litmus test for future actions.”
A revolving door should not describe your business and if strong cultures are going to be enforced, the mission statement should be clear, and compliance should be easily identified throughout each employee.
Finding the Right People is Tough....but Rewarding
Employees who personify your mission statement will become attractors to your company. As with every business, the success of the company starts with the people.
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important that hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies,” said Lawrence Bossidy, former General Electric executive.
Finding the right person can be exhausting, especially in the current state of the labor market, but when the right person is found, he or she is invaluable to the success of your business.
Warren Buffet said, “when looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
Engagement Leads to Productivity
According to research publisehed by J.K. Harter and colleagues, it shows that companies with more engaged employees have a 51 percent higher productivity rate when compared to those with a lower number of engaged employees. The good news is that, according to a Gallup report, 34 percent of U.S. workers are actively engaged in their work culture—tying the highest percentage since Gallup began recording the stat in 2000. On the reverse side, the report also found that 16.5 percent are actively disengaged. Those numbers reveal that most companies are beginning to understand the competitive advantage and opportunity for profitability that comes along with engaging cultures.
What are engaged employees? While finding a technical definition is challenging, it may be easier to identify the characteristics of that employee.
Engaged employees are generally:
Now the question becomes how to develop and ultimately keep engaged employees. The simple response is showing that you care. The challenging response is there are many ways to do that.
The primary ways that foster strong employee engagement include:
• Continual learning
• Eliminating fears for making mistakes
• Support during good and bad times
• Recognition for jobs well done
• Visibility from upper management
• Encouraging teamwork
Taking the proper steps to improve your organizational culture significantly correlates to higher financial performance. Hiring and developing engaged employees, working through your mission statement, and evaluating where your company stands will be the keys to making sure your business culture will remain a rich attractant to talented individuals in today’s workforce.