Jake Riviere – G2 Ops Program Support Analyst
Keywords – Company culture, organizational lifestyle, work life balance, employee welfare, turnover, values, company benefits, organizational growth, empowerment, engagement, behavior
Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
Walking into work today, I couldn’t help but wonder about what defines the work experience for not only me but the millions of workers across the country. Sure, there are certain things that are universal amongst workplaces such as coworkers, big square office buildings, and lengthy corporate training videos. But what really ties a company together? Is it the friendly smiling faces that you see each day? What about the relaxed dress code and bean bag chairs scattered throughout the office? These pieces, albeit important, are just one part of the nebulous concept we know as company culture. While definitions may vary, most people can agree that an organization’s culture consists of the values, attitudes, goals, and practices of the everyday employees. While it may be hard to put a finger on what exactly a company culture is, it is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts to the continued growth and success of an organization.
Why The Emphasis on Company Culture?
So, you may now be wondering what the big fuss of company culture is all about. What happened to clocking in, putting in our hours, and going home? While you most certainly can do that, there is an even greater incentive to put the time and effort into fostering, developing, and maintaining a strong company culture. For one, creating a workplace that people want to be in is an important start towards motivating personnel and maximizing efficiency. So much so that according to a study done in 2018, over 46% of job seekers indicated that company culture and organizational lifestyle was a significant part of their job search criteria.(1)
In addition, over 88% of job seekers indicated that organizational culture was at least a factor in their job hunt.(1) Just by taking the data at face value, we can identify indicators that the culture and life of a company are important to potential prospects. After all, these people will be spending a third of their day working together. Why not take pride and enjoy where you work?
Productivity, communication, and team building benefit from an organization that prioritizes employee welfare but, what about overall organizational knowledge? While a company may be able to recruit brilliant, creative, and boundary pushing personnel, we must remember that recruitment is only half the battle. Once an organization has brought these people on board, a plan must be in place to keep them engaged and invested in the organization. Without such a conducive culture, a company may find these geniuses walking out the door.
In fact, according to a recent study, approximately 47% of people looking for new jobs cited company culture as the primary reason for their decision to begin looking for a new one.(2) While certain companies can withstand high turnover rates in certain parts of their business, not many can deal with companywide attrition.
For decision makers, the correlation between company culture and turnover rates should be a recognized pattern. If neglected too long, the negative effects of a poorly maintained company culture may become more and more prevalent to the turnover rate of a company.
Challenges Faced by Employers in Developing Culture
Understanding the importance of developing a strong company culture and maintaining one are two entirely different things that many organizations fail to execute on. For one, a culture has to coincide with the organization’s goals, missions, and beliefs. While a company can say they are something and believe in certain values, it is an entirely different thing to live what you say. As the age-old adage states, actions speak louder than words.
An organization can face difficulties developing a culture for a variety of reasons. For one, an intense and almost all-encompassing goal on maximizing profits can steer companies astray. Logically, as a business, the organization’s objective is to generate value for the shareholders. While tactics such as cost cutting are fundamental parts of any business, they should be employed with the purpose of having a larger goal in mind. If for example, a company can save 3% of their expenses by slashing many employee benefits and welfare programs, but do the benefits really outweigh the detriment caused to company psyche and morale? What aggressive cost cutting practices neglect to consider is the effect that engaged and enthusiastic employees have on the whole organization. While some money may be saved in the short term through the limitation of company benefits and welfare activities, in the long term most companies will lose out on a motivated workforce.
According to a recent Gallup study, employees saw a 17% improvement in productivity when actively engaged at work. (3) Productive workers lead to increased company efficiency and profit generating opportunities. This in turn can lead to new business developments and opportunities that far outweigh the short-term costs. While it may be rather difficult to look the short-term costs directly in the face, understanding and structuring strategies to accommodate positive cultural growth is an important step to organizational growth as a whole.
Ideas For Growing a Positive Culture
While there are many thoughts on how to build up an organizational culture, there are a few ideas that may prove promising for decision makers looking to enhance or grow their company. For one, investing in employees is a way of investing in the company itself. Whether it be through funding certifications, implementing success sharing programs, or accommodating a flexible work schedule, employees will resonate with efforts to improve the company from within.
Another idea that has become popular throughout the pandemic is the opportunity to allow employees to have some say about their place of work, whether it be on site or remote. While the immediate short-term costs are higher for all of these, the benefits on morale, employee effectiveness, and engaged behavior become more apparent as time moves on. Considering that these are intangible effects, the results of such actions won’t be instantaneous, but they can make a large impact in the long run.
Other ideas lend credit to team building activities and employee empowerment philosophies. As many companies understand, team building activities are important to the development and interconnectedness necessary for employees to be effective teammates. Certainly, there are many different approaches to the broad category we call “Team Building Activities”; however, there is one avenue that appears most useful. This would be less business focused and more conducive towards interpersonal relationship building among peers in events such as team lunches, happy hours, or simple things like non-business related jeopardy tournaments. While everyone understands that they’re at a business to work, not every activity has to be as implicitly work related. These little breaks in the day are something that everyone can look forward to and it creates the opportunity to build rapport and insightful personal relationships. Business after all, is the process of building and maintaining relationships.
Employee empowerment is another important philosophy in growing a culture. By allowing employees to take part in a system they spend much of their time in, an organization benefits from increased employee engagement and increased problem-solving capacity. Toyota, for example, encourages employees at all stages of the company to propose changes and directly impact their working conditions. This philosophy recognizes the individual employees’ ideas, sense of pride in their work, focus on improving working conditions, and an esprit de corps for the organization they work for. A large part of this process development philosophy working effectively is the malleability and openness of management and decision makers to embrace proposed changes. By being able to source, recognize, and reward good ideas, leadership groups can become more in line with the common employee and understand the insight of the people living these processes every day.
Providing an opportunity to empower the employees shouldn’t be seen as an infringement upon the power and responsibility of leadership positions, rather, it can be seen as another useful tool in the growth of a company. Granted, not all ideas are good ideas and sometimes lines must be drawn in the sand against popular demand; however, management is arguably more informed and in tune with employees by granting empowerment farther down the pyramid. Certainly, this idea has a lot more to be fleshed out, argued over, and understood but it provides an interesting conduit for organizational growth, morale building, and employee engagement that many operations may lack.
The Final Word
There is much to be said about organizational cultures and how they form a key part of a company’s identity. While there are a multitude of ideas and philosophies on how to build one, most people can agree on the criticality and significance of such a defining characteristic. Such a lifestyle is also important to the heart and soul of any organization: the employees. As workers have become more invested in work-life balances and maintaining an increased focus on positive lifestyles, where these individuals end up spending significant parts of their days at work has become a significant consideration.
Further, the links to improved employee engagement, productivity, and growth, should also be a focus on decision makers minds at all stages of a company’s life. Whatever a company’s situation, the development and maintenance of a strong culture should be one of the focal points to which employees, decision makers, and others can look to gauge company health.
(1) Jobvite. “2018 Job Seeker Nation Study.” Jobvite.com, Jobvite, Apr. 2018,
(2) “US Workers Willing to Compromise on Salary for the RIGHT Benefits, Company Culture, and Career Growth
Opportunities.” Hays USA, Hays Recruiting Experts Worldwide, 2017, www.hays.com/press-release-do-not-
(3) Harter, J., & Mann, A. (2021, November 20). The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction. Gallup.com. Retrieved December 29, 2021, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236366/right-culture-not-employee-satisfaction.aspx
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