Corporate culture has arguably always been important, but it’s only become a popular point of discussion in the past 20 years or so. To some, it’s become a buzzword, losing some of its meaning due to the overabundance of content and discussions surrounding it. However, I’d argue that corporate culture was never really overblown, and is actually becoming even more important as the modern workplace continues to evolve.
Why do I say this?
The Benefits of Strong Culture
First, there are clear benefits to having a strong, unified company culture underlying your business’s operations:
- Identity. For starters, culture contributes to the identify and values of your company. For example, if your corporate culture is one that prioritizes setting and meeting goals, your individual workers will be more likely to set and meet goals of their own. It’s a good way to set and maintain the direction of your employees, and without it, it’s hard to keep your company’s values coherent.
- Retention. A strong company culture attracts better talent and, more importantly, retains that talent. When people feel like they belong to an organization, they’re more likely to stick around for the long term. That means lower turnover, fewer new hires to deal with, and better chemistry among your team.
- Image. Corporate culture also adds to your brand identity. If you treat your employees well and have a fun-loving corporate atmosphere, your customers will see you as a fun-loving, generous brand. Depending on your target demographics, that could be a major boon for sales and customer loyalty.
Trends and Competition
One of the biggest motivating factors is the fact that corporate culture is becoming a more popular consideration and development. More companies are shifting their attention to creating more thorough brand cultures, and preserving them through ongoing development. Why? It’s at least partially due to the fact that culture is talked about more frequently. Studies have indicated measurable increases in turnover for companies with poor or nonexistent culture, and conversationally, culture is mentioned more frequently between entrepreneurs.
You might think that this is a bandwagon scenario—that I’m encouraging you to focus on culture more simply because other companies are. But remember, these are the companies you’re competing with, both in terms of hiring new people and in terms of appealing to customers. If you don’t at least keep pace with a strong culture and find a way to differentiate yourself, you’re going to fall behind.
Like it or not, millennials are the generation driving the workplace changes of the near future. If you fail to attract millennial talent, your growth may be stagnated, and you could eventually hit a talent shortage.
That said, millennials desire a strong company culture (in one dimension or another) more than anything else when deciding who to work for. If you don’t have a strong or appealing company culture, you’re going to start losing the recruiting war—and fast.
The Startup Economy
It’s also worth noting that the modern startup economy has added some interesting variables to the entrepreneurial community. Today’s entrepreneurs have virtually unlimited digital resources to build companies—and those companies (especially in the tech sector) have the potential to take off or fail relatively quickly. This increases the need for differentiation in the market, especially in competitive industries, and forces entrepreneurs to find a sticking point for workers who may otherwise bounce after a short-term assignment.
Is It Time for a Culture Audit?
Once you understand that company culture is truly important to your business’s future (and it’s about to become even more important), you may want to perform a “culture audit.” Essentially, this is a way to evaluate where your culture currently stands, see what (if anything) is missing, and establish a plan to make corrections.
- Theory. How defined is your company culture? Where is it defined? How specifically is it defined, and are these plans available to your new hires?
- Understanding. How would you gauge your employees’ current understanding of your company culture? Take a poll of your workers. Do they have reasonable knowledge of your brand values?
- Consistency. Even if your workers understand your culture, they may not enforce it or “live and breathe” it consistently. How often do you see your team leaders failing to adhere to your ideal culture? How about your workers?