Defining your corporate culture is an important step in creating a strong brand identity, attracting and retaining top talent, and driving business success. But whether you’re a new business or have been struggling to establish a robust company culture, it can be hard to know where to begin.
There are a number of ways to build a strong corporate culture that will help your company to stand out from its competitors. But first, let’s look at what corporate culture means and why it’s an essential part of business success.
What is corporate culture?
Corporate culture is the collection of values, beliefs, ethics and attitudes that characterise an organisation and guide its practices. The meaning of corporate culture encompasses the way people work, interact, and communicate within an organization, and can be an indicator for potential employees of what the working environment is like in a business.
Developing a strong corporate culture means blending your company values with your company goals in a way that benefits both employees and managers. Having a positive corporate culture in place means that employees are comfortable, respectful and enthusiastic about their work.
Why is a positive corporate culture important for businesses?
Because corporate culture affects almost every area of a business, it’s no wonder that it’s such an important factor to get right. According to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a strong corporate culture is important to a business’s success. This research also found a strong correlation between employees who say they feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.
When your business has a great culture, it sets the baseline for the rest of your operations. Some of the benefits of a positive corporate culture include:
- Increased job satisfaction
- Higher rates of productivity
- Increased employee retention
- Reduced workplace stress
It’s clear how important corporate culture is – but how can a company begin to build their own? Here are ten important steps to building company culture.
1. Start with your core values
The first step in establishing company culture, if you haven’t already done so, is to define your company’s core values. These are the principles and beliefs that guide your company's actions and decision-making. They are the ideas that drive your company’s work and should be aligned with your mission and vision. Your core values should be evident in everything your company does and should be obvious in your environment – from how you deal with clients and customers to how you treat employees.
2. Think about your company's personality
Every company has a personality, even if it is more professional and sombre than others. Think about what kind of personality you want your company to have and how you can leverage your unique qualities to create a memorable identity - whether that’s as a responsible, reliable business or as something more light-hearted.
3. Give meaning to the work you do
Employees want to feel like their work has a purpose and contributes to something bigger than themselves. Giving meaning to the work you do can help foster a sense of purpose and commitment among your employees, and help create a feeling of community and teamwork in your culture.
4. Focus on wellness and work-life balance
Make sure you provide opportunities for employees to take care of themselves both physically and mentally and create a culture that supports work-life balance. The idea of your employer being ‘one big family’ is largely seen as outdated by many of today's employees – they appreciate a more balanced approach, where they are given a clear boundary between work and their personal life.
5. Hire the right people
A great corporate culture is dependent on the people keeping it alive, and this starts during the hiring process. Make sure you are hiring people who align with your core values and contribute to your company's personality. While it’s essential to find people whose skills match the job description, be sure to remember the importance of soft skills – leadership, teamwork, empathy and collaboration are all traits of employees who contribute to positive culture.
6. Recognise and reward achievements
No employee wants to work in an environment where their efforts aren’t recognised. Acknowledging and rewarding achievements, whether big or small, can help boost employee morale and motivation. Consider implementing an employee recognition system where teammates can call out each other’s wins – this helps to foster a more encouraging environment.
7. Encourage employee feedback and input
While you may invest a lot of time and effort into creating a great corporate culture, it’s natural to not always get things right. Include your employees in big decisions and encourage their feedback on how your culture is progressing. Having processes in place to gather and respond to feedback can help create a sense of openness and transparency at work – making employees more comfortable in expressing their concerns.
8. Keep diversity and inclusion at front of mind
In the world of the future of work, there’s no excuse for companies not to invest in their diversity and inclusion efforts. From hiring practices to HR policies, a company’s culture always benefits from more inclusive practices. Examining your company’s composition from the top down, updating workplace policies, providing diversity training and investing in mentorship programmes are all ways to foster a more inclusive workplace culture.
9. Encourage a more social environment
Make sure you provide opportunities for social interaction and encourage empathy and understanding among team members. Work should be a respectful and encouraging space for all employees, where they feel happy and safe coming to work. Ice-breakers, team building days, and coffee introductions are all ways to build on this important culture.
10. Communicate your culture
Even if your company has a fantastic culture, it can be hindered if your employees aren’t aware of your efforts. Make sure you have a clear and consistent message about your core values, personality, and expectations, and communicate it effectively to your employees and customers. Your employees should be able to find information about your culture easily, with processes being as transparent as possible.
Remember that defining your corporate culture is an ongoing process. It requires continuous communication and commitment from all members of your team. But your company will reap the benefits of this work for years to come. Building a happy, respectful and encouraging work culture is one of the most effective ways to build strong business success.
For international teams, building a positive workplace culture can be even more challenging. Take a look at our tips for international HRMs on building strong workplace culture, and how to build a culture inclusive of remote teams too.