The phrase “company culture” is thrown around a lot—so much that it is often difficult to communicate what it really means. Great company culture has come to be defined by casual dress codes, free food, extra vacation days, and shortened work hours. While all of these perks help contribute to a fun and lax work environment, they are not the key to establishing a solid company culture.
In order to articulate what is really important when it comes to culture, you need to understand what it means. Simply, culture stems from how people communicate, what they value the most, how tasks get completed, and what they believe. The obvious symbols of culture may exist in the extra vacation days or the fully loaded break room, but the less obvious symbols of culture are the foundations for having good or bad company culture. Consider these vital elements in creating your company culture:
- Conflict resolution: Is conflict handled openly or privately, proactively or ignored?
- Decision-making: Are decisions made from the top-down, or is there a collaborative effort?
- Support for employee ideas and initiative: Are employees encouraged to develop and share new ideas openly, or must they formally present them to leadership?
- Relationships between leadership and employees: Are these relationships formal and distanced, transparent, or courteous and collective?
To develop and sustain good company culture, you start with examining these areas to identify any unhealthy habits or behavior, and begin weeding them out. Listen to your employees and find out what contributes most to their happiness and satisfaction in their job everyday (or what may be burdening them). Perception is reality. If your employees perceive company values and processes in a negative light, the negativity is bound to take over your company culture.
Step back, and reevaluate what culture means to you and your organization. How do you want your employees to feel when they walk in the door in the morning, and leave at night? A unique company culture will help your organization stand out from the rest…and it’s not just the free food.