Company Culture: It’s more than free food and bean bags

What is company culture?

Company Culture: It’s more than free food and bean bags

1000 726 Yvonne Kilonzo

Creating a thriving workplace culture that employees love and are passionate about is every employer’s dream. However, despite the vast array of literature highlighting different aspects of company culture, it’s still difficult for many companies to define what team culture is and what it’s not.

If this sounds like your company, have no fear, Shortlist is here to cast light on all things team culture…read on!

What is company culture and what is it not?

Company culture is a company’s character; it encompasses the company’s values, norms, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits. Culture is what defines employees’ code of conduct, including how employees should behave in meetings, the risks they can take, the unwritten rules that exist and all. In brief, company culture guides teams in their daily work-life and if you are lucky to have a strong culture, it binds the team together.

Companies tend to link defining their company culture with hosting fun activities. Hence, they frequently associate culture with the cool stuff (karaoke nights, free beer on Fridays, Secret Santa traditions) that showcase companies as an enjoyable place to work, rather than communicating what the company actually stands for as well as its values. Don’t get us wrong, free lunch and bean bags are great, however, they do not in themselves set or define company culture.

In order to win talent and set a strong culture, organisations need to ensure that every team member, from top to bottom, lives by the firm’s values.

Why is culture important?

Be it a start-up or a  corporate, a productive company culture helps to drive the company’s mission, goals and objectives in the following ways:

#1 – Attracting talent 

In today’s job market, the best candidates have many options; they are empowered with the ability to choose where they would like to work. This shift calls for companies to come up with initiatives that are a magnet for top talent, particularly because candidates can get a view of the internal work environment of a company through Indeed and Glassdoor reviews or by reaching out to someone within the team through LinkedIn.

It is important to have a workplace culture which nurtures employees who can double up as influential recruitment brand ambassadors. Just as a new customer would trust a referral from an existing one, so do candidates. Companies should strive to win their internal clients over through a culture that inspires cohesion, trust and confidence as well as celebrates individual and team success. You can survey your current team on their view of your corporate culture and values to understand how your team experiences your culture and what they are likely to share with candidates. For example, Twitter employees rated the company highly in corporate culture and values boasting of a supportive and motivational team-oriented environment as well as a great mission statement. This is a good sign of how their employees operate as brand ambassadors.

#2 – Employee engagement

Employee engagement is defined by how individuals feel about the work environment, their workmates and their job, and it is highly driven by culture. Engaged employees display great commitment towards their work and have a genuine motivation to exceed their goals.

Great company culture can help to ensure that every team member knows their role in the organisation and how they fit into the company’s ultimate goals and objectives. When the team connects with the company culture, it gives their day to day tasks broader purpose and they feel like they do meaningful work. It gives them the energy to be at work and infuses a deep sense of ownership and employee loyalty. Teams with a great culture are more likely to come up with new ideas and also inspire the best out of other team members.

On the contrary, employees who do not see how they fit into the company’s goals tend to have a negative attitude towards their work. A poorly defined culture could further instil fear and mistrust among employees and also between employees and leadership. This eventually affects both individual and team motivation and performance.

Although work may be challenging, companies can help reduce individual stress through a strong culture. It is imperative for companies to promote a culture that allows employees to be the best versions of themselves and motivates them to work towards the company’s success. For example, Google strives to keep its employees happy through the freedom to be creative, a flexible work schedule among other intangible benefits. As a result, it was named the tech firm with the best corporate culture.

#3 – Retaining talent

Companies exert a ton of time and energy hiring the best people – thus, it makes sense for them to work just as hard to keep talent in the company. While competitive compensation and great benefits may keep employees hooked to a company, the role that a winning culture plays in retaining great talent cannot be understated.

Individuals are looking to work for organisations whose goals and objectives resonate with theirs, as well as a company that is genuinely interested in their growth. This was evident in our employer brand survey which showed that professionals value learning and promotion opportunities over salary and stability. Job seekers are looking for companies that offer freedom and encourage openness by having an open-door policy. When employees find such employers, they tend to be satisfied and happy, increasing their chances of staying longer at the company.  Safaricom, for example, has emerged as a top employer in Kenya in multiples reports for years now. The telecommunications giant’s employees appreciate its fast-paced yet fun environment that also offers real opportunities for growth.

Overall, an exceptional company culture is a win-win for both employees and employers. Employees get to be the best versions of themselves and perform at their full potential while employers get to attract and retain effective star talent. There is no better time than now for companies to promote a culture that defines them in a way that enables them to win both internally and externally.

How do you ensure a thriving team culture in your workplace? Share with us and watch out for more resources on company culture during our ongoing culture code campaign that will run until February 2020!