What Is Company Culture?

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If you assume that company culture is a buzzword for a set of values adopted by a business, you'd be right, but there's much more to it. For starters, plenty of thought goes into narrowing down the types of values or beliefs that mean the most to your business. When possible, establish company culture early on and maintain it throughout each employee level. Dig a little deeper to understand how to work values into your venture.

What Is Company Culture?

Company culture is more than a buzzword or a ploy to drum up business. A cultural attitude or atmosphere should be a collective, company-wide social behavior that blossoms from the owner's desired direction for her business. The type of behavior that an owner wants the business to project might stem from her aspiration to give back to the community in a particular way, for starters. Being immersed in great company values sparks creativity, productivity and a committed, caring work ethic. As long as it's earnest, there's nothing wrong with striving to develop a company culture that radiates outward, and in return, impresses your target market and (fingers crossed) turns interested customers into repeat buyers.

How Do You Develop Company Culture?

Company culture stems partly from marketing efforts, advertisements and an eloquent mission statement. But again, it's mainly initiated by a company-wide attitude. To develop a team of like-minded people, you might create a culture handbook, filled with your business's core values and concrete ways to get everyone to apply them. In the book, you could:

  • Include your mission statement and spell out why you came up with it. 
  • Lay down guidelines for how you expect your corporate "family" to treat each other and clientele regardless of titles  – be the example. 
  • Discuss the support systems extended to your staff by the company, the rewards to show appreciation and how workers can expect to always be treated as humans, not resources. 
  • Express your desire to get everyone involved in related fund-raising events for your desired charity. 
  • Explain why you're passionate about contributing products or services to a needy cause, as with a buy one, give one system, and that you're eager to accept ideas for doing more from your staff to rev up their brainstorming engines. 

When possible, hire only candidates who fit your business vision. For example, say, a dental clinic for low-income patrons wants to develop a warm, welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere. In this case, it's wise to hire staff based on their skills, education and experience and their cheerful, compassionate, unbiased personality traits. An interview questionnaire would come in handy.

Examples of Businesses With a Strong Company Culture

Ever wonder what it takes to land on Fortune Magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For? Earning first place in 2018, Salesforce must be doing something (or everything!) right. Besides their high-profile celebration of the company Ohana (Hawaiian for "family"), Salesforce provides "mindfulness" rooms for its workers and pays for them to volunteer in their communities for 56 hours each year.

Another company with a standout staffing system is Zappos. The e-commerce, shoe-sales business developed a list of 10 "family" core values, empowering each member to embrace change, do more with less and pursue growth and learning, for starters.

Why Does Company Culture Matter?

A company's values have virtually always played a part in whether the market views it in a positive or a negative light. But with a shift in employee expectations, the spotlight seems even more zeroed in on what a company stands for. Really, it's no surprise that businesses with great cultural dynamics have a lower employee turnover rate. Wouldn't you prefer to work with a passionate, committed workforce, where energy levels, production and the overall attitude toward work and the world beyond work remain positive and empowering? With the amount of waking hours spent at work, of course you would.

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About the Author

Lorna Hordos is a home-improvement business owner and freelance writer. She has written hundreds of conversational business articles for WordPress.com, Bizfluent, AZ Central and Global Post.