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Why company culture should undoubtedly be prioritised by any small business

Published On
8 November 2022
Category
Business tips & insights

Often, particularly with new businesses, it’s easy to brush over HR and company culture in favour of more tangible objectives. Admittedly, culture can be difficult to conceptualise, given that by nature, it is largely made up of unspoken behaviours and beliefs. However, studies1 have highlighted the immense benefits of strong company culture, including efficient decision-making, employee retention, and company attractiveness for future hires.

A business that doesn’t prioritise company culture is likely to suffer most at the bottom line, with employees feeling undervalued, unproductive and uninspired. This is all the more important for business longevity; surveys2 show that Gen Z is entering the workforce seeking work-life balance, flexibility and positive company culture. 

Still not convinced? Beyond direct employee impact, there are strong links between financial performance and company culture. A 2015 report3 found that companies ranked ‘Best Placed to Work’ on Glassdoor, broadly outperformed competitors on the stock market for five years consecutively. Each company is different, and it’ll take some time and reflection to develop your own business values, but here are five general components for creating a positive and efficient company culture.

1. Establishing your Company ‘Mission Statement’

One key element of establishing a strong company culture is ensuring that all members of the team, from the CEO to new-starts, are aware of what you’re working towards as a business. Giving each team member a sense of purpose goes a long way to ensuring employees feel valued within the organisation. Your mission statement should be authentic, achievable and concise, guiding everyday decision making within the business.

2. Encourage Employee Input

If conceptualising policy related to company culture is new for your business, it could be a good idea to involve existing employees in this process. Empowering staff to share their views on the company both present and future, is likely to lead to a reduction in turnover, as employees feel valued in their role. Employee involvement also means that staff may be more willing to engage with the practices, as opposed to brushing them aside as simply new management policy changes.

3. Practise, Practise, Practise

In order for positive culture to be cultivated, practise must transcend written ideas. It’s easy enough to write out company values but much harder to follow through with them on a day-to-day basis. Having ‘strong company culture’ as part of your organisation’s branding may be useful for attracting new talent, but over time, if these attitudes aren’t reflected through daily practise, it’s unlikely that new employees will stay on. 

Culture is often implicit – people are programmed to act a certain way according to the environment they operate in. Therefore, changing these dynamics, particularly if you are opting for more radical reconfiguration, relies on the endurance of behaviours that align with organisational values. If you’re opting for a ‘flat hierarchical’ structure, it’s important to actively empower more junior members of the company to voice their opinions and beliefs, despite the fact they may previously have been warned against doing so.

4. Start from the Beginning: Hiring Employees who are a Good Fit

A crucial element in cultivating positive and efficient culture begins in the hiring process. Whilst it’s important that an applicant is qualified on paper, it’s important that they are the right fit for the organisational environment.

One way to assess cultural suitability is to gear interview questions towards company values. For example, if a key company value is the ability to adapt to fast-paced change, it may be worth directing interview questions towards the employee’s own attitudes to change. Company culture is most successful when the employee’s values align with the overall goal of the organisation, so establishing personal values early is absolutely crucial.

5. Fostering Healthy and Productive Communication

In a 2022 study4, 86% of employees and executives cited inefficient communication as the main cause of workplace failures and poor team morale. As mentioned previously, having all your employees on the same page with regard to values and goals is crucial, something that can only be accomplished through effective communication throughout the organisation. The most collaborative and efficient teams are largely founded on an understanding of free and honest communication, so investing time into setting communication standards is crucial for collaborative success. 

Positive workplace culture and employee wellbeing are inextricably linked. For more information on how small businesses can support employee wellbeing and in turn create a positive work culture, check out Heads Up and their recommended actions for small business owners.

  1. Maria Corina Barbaros, 2020. ‘The Potential of Company Culture to Increase Employer Attractiveness’, Journal of Enterprise, Management and Innovation
  2. Amarachi Amadike, 2022. ‘What Gen Z Wants’ Financial Post.
  3. Andrew Chamberlain, 2015. ‘Does Company Culture Pay Off?” GD Reports
  4. Duncan Lambden, 2022. ‘Communication in the workplace’ Expert Market.

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