Companies with great cultures reap incredible benefits. The recent arms race to provide employees with the best perks misses the point, though.
Workers don’t need crazy perks like on-site chiropractors as much as they need dependable, positive cultures in which they feel empowered to thrive.
Bosses often fail to realize that their very actions are driving good employees away.
Why Company Culture Matters
Happy employees are more productive, more engaged, and more valuable than their unhappy peers. Company culture contributes directly to employee happiness. Businesses that proactively curate positive cultures flourish, while those that leave their culture to chance falter.
Everyone benefits when businesses get deliberate about their culture. Current employees feel empowered by working alongside people who share their values and believe in team success. Prospective employees want to work for companies with highly engaged workforces. Even customers, who rarely see internal day-to-day operations, benefit from the superior service that comes from a motivated workforce.
All that positivity translates directly to the bottom line. Companies with positive company cultures spend less on healthcare, experience fewer accidents, reduce absenteeism, and increase profits, among other perks.
Now that remote work has become more popular than ever, especially in the wake of the coronavirus scare, companies must also consider how they manage their remote work culture. Businesses that fail to account for the needs of out-of-office workers can quickly alienate some of their most productive employees.
With so much at stake, companies can’t afford to dismiss the significance of culture investment. From stronger bottom lines to happier employees, a great culture pays dividends.
Where Company Culture Goes Wrong
Businesses, both big and small, have made major blunders in the name of company culture. Avoid following in their footsteps by dodging these common culture mistakes:
1. Work Hard, Play Hard
This phrase — and the philosophy behind it — have been poisoned by both overuse and bad intentions. Every boss wants workers to come in and give all they’ve got for every hour on the clock. In certain startup scenes, workers spend every moment together working, planning, or drinking, but that environment appeals only to a certain subset of people — and, in most cases, only for a limited amount of time.
Instead of advertising an environment of extreme pressure to work hard and to socialize with the team, ease back a little. Nurture a culture that empowers employees to get to know one another at work, not one that requires them to spend extra time together or risk alienation.
Some people want to go home at 5:00. That’s fine. Make workers feel appreciated and respected, and the company won’t lack for productivity.
2. Embrace Risk in Word Only
In this era of innovation, companies love to say they embrace risk takers with open arms. Some do; others claim they love risk but negate that claim by disincentivizing new ideas.
Bad cultures tell people to take risks, then reward or punish them based on the results. Don’t let hypocrisy kill creativity. Set aside budget for risky ventures, and encourage people to take educated, data-backed risks. If the moves pay off, great. If they don’t, at least the team learned something.
Create a system to encourage risk-taking, and stick to those practices. Case-by-case handling of calculated risks inevitably rewards people who play it safe. Employees who don’t push boundaries can’t innovate, and companies that can’t innovate can’t grow.
3. Overlook Values Fit
Businesses need superstar salespeople, marketers, and programmers to get ahead of the competition. Not all brilliant employees provide net benefits, however. Toxic employees hurt more than they help. Bring in a great salesperson who treats everyone like dirt, and the team’s numbers will suffer while one person soars.
Hire for cultural fit as much as, or more than, hard skills. Managers and colleagues can teach anyone with a curious mind how to perform the work the company needs. Not many people can teach others to act respectfully, and toxic employees won’t listen, anyway.
Not all bad fits are generally toxic, though. Some great people who would be perfect in a role at another company just never figure it out in the wrong environment. Establish a core set of values, then use those values to influence recruiting and interviewing processes. With purpose-oriented employees being 54% more likely to report that they plan to stay at a company for five or more years, it’s in your best interest to weed out people who don’t feel a connection to the company’s mission.
Culture evolves over time. Well-meaning leaders who create cultural initiatives, but don’t regularly review and revise those initiatives, usually lose control of their culture quickly. Instead of treating culture as a one-and-done event, embrace cultural evolution as part of the company’s growth.