The ‘culture’ of a business is one of those seemingly intangible factors of our working environments which is often paid mere lip service.
While business culture may be an equivocal term which is often hard to pin down, it’s a phenomenon that’s exceptionally noticeable – especially in its absence.
So, what defines a fantastic business culture? How do you go about fostering one? Why is it so important?
What’s a business culture anyway?
Deal and Kennedy (business culture gurus and co-authors of ‘Corporate Culture’) succinctly define business culture as ‘the way we do things around here’.
That’s a rather apt description. Let’s break it down further.
A business culture encapsulates and defines behaviour, ethics, and etiquette. It describes an organisation’s values, vision, working style, beliefs, and customs. It’s who you are, how you operate and how you treat others.
You can do the bare minimum and offer employees and colleagues the right tools, good pay, and a satisfactory role. But you may have missed that elusive ingredient that makes an employee love their work, give their best and grow your business.
That ingredient is your culture.
Culture also speaks to how diligently you cater for mental health and employee wellbeing, As Reckon’s General Manager of People & Culture, Jessica Morris, points out:
“People spend so much of their time at work, and they deserve to spend that time happy and supported. That’s why caring for the wellbeing and mental health of your employees is a critical part of business culture.”
Yet culture isn’t just about your team – it applies equally to your brand and the way you interact with customers and the market at large.
What does a business culture do?
It may seem like just another buzz word but the culture you breed in your business has material affects you can’t ignore.
What’s the crux behind concentrating on the cultivation of culture within your business? What does it influence?
A business’s culture will define:
- employee satisfaction, performance, and retention
- your values and purpose
- strategic direction
- customer service
- business reputation
- how confident employees feel offering opinions
- communication patterns in a business environment
- effort and productivity
As we can see, the creation and cultivation of a positive and well-defined business culture has real world implications for business success and growth.
Culture building techniques
Now we have a better understanding of business culture and its effect on an organisation, how do you go about creating a better one?
What concrete steps can you take to grow a positive business culture in your workplace? Keep in mind that internal culture co-exists with the culture you grow around your business, including how you treat your customers.
1) Define your purpose and values
What does your business stand for? Create a set of values and business aims that sit outside sales and targets.
Come to an understanding as to what your business will do for the world around you, how you will behave and then put it in writing.
If you’re struggling here, ask yourself why you started this business in the first place and what aspirations or personally held beliefs you wish to pursue.
2) Find ways to live your values
Don’t just design a poster listing some vague values and pop it in your workplace. Be genuine and create action.
What can you do to actively live and instil your values? If you say you champion communication and innovation, set a regular team session or suggestion box where employees are actively encouraged to propose ways to do things differently.
What if your values entail environmental and social consciousness? Can you take meaningful steps to go green or get involved with a worthy cause?
3) Management style
This is a big one. Do you actively micromanage operations or do you breed an environment where people get to shine?
A positive working environment starts from the top – if you don’t encourage enthusiasm, good vibes, humour, communication and openness, your employees have little chance of helping breed a great business culture. So, lead by example.
Leaving your team to tick boxes and follow orders is not the pathway to a great business culture.
4) Feedback and reward
Tune your management style to be conducive to feedback and reward. These two factors sit at the heart of a great culture.
If your team is actively encouraged to pitch in and share an opinion while being rewarded for excellent work, a positive vibe sprouts which has meaningful impacts on employee satisfaction and thus business outcomes.
5) Hire for attitude, not just talent
Sure, your new potential hire may have the requisite experience and skillsets, but also take in their outlook.
You want a team player who oozes enthusiasm and positivity. If you sense a new hire may have alternate values or are just looking for a paycheque – look again and delve a little deeper.
6) Meaningful social rituals
Build that tribe! Have a think about the kind of social rituals you have in your work environment. Do you have regular after work drinks or nibbles? Do you set aside time in your day for casual lunchtime chats? Do you share memes and jokes on your chat channels?
How about setting aside a few times a year to do something more special, like an outing or party? You don’t need a massive budget to get this going, it’s the ritualistic social aspect to such team exercises that counts, not the dollars spent.
How Reckon became a certified a Great Place to Work
Reckon recently became a Great Place to Work-Certified™ company in recognition of our robust commitment to building an outstanding business culture. How did we do it? Jessica Morris explains:
“We have a unique working environment at Reckon because we believe in inclusivity, diversity, and trust.
“Living and breathing these values is fundamental to our open-door policy, allowing people to thrive personally and professionally. We seek feedback from our employees on a regular basis to make continuous improvements to the employee experience whether it is benefits or company strategy.
“People are the most important part of our company and we are continually investing in them to create a great environment.
“This culture of people first led to us becoming a Great Place to Work certified company in 2021.”