How To Build A Company Culture (+ 8 Examples)

How important is company culture? In the early 2000s corporate America learned the hard way of the real importance of company culture, fueled largely by the historic collapse of Enron.

This historic event helped to highlight the critical role that company culture has on both the performance and sustainability of an organization as a whole.

Enron’s downfall played a role in reminding everybody how a toxic culture can ultimately bring down even the most seemingly successful corporations.

In the 20 years since, there’s been a marked change in how company culture is seen and understood, and how it is prioritized across businesses of all sizes. it’s gone from being little more than an afterthought or a PR exercise, to being a vital cornerstone of business strategy.

In fact recent research suggests that an overwhelming 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that a meaningful and clear workplace culture is essential to the success of the business as a whole. This takes the concept that a positive and vibrant company culture is not just something positive for the work environment, but a vital part of the eventual business outcomes.

Even more than this though – a positive and meaningful company culture is also now considered an essential part of both attracting and retaining talented employees, something which should be taken very seriously given the increasingly competitive labor market.

For any company looking to reduce turnover rates, having a compelling culture that appeals to the values of the workforce is a strong starting point. This isn’t just a vague hope – research shows that 24% of employees will feel much more likely to leave a company if they don’t feel that the culture meets with their own values and expectations.

In the world of web design and web hosting, the markets are so dynamic that it is critical that companies understand the importance of employee satisfaction. This is pivotal in ensuring the company is both resilient and adaptable, and more likely to survive the inevitable changing face of the industry.

What is Company Culture?

Ask 12 company directors, “What is a company culture?” and you’ll probably get 12 different answers. Essentially though, a company culture is a tapestry of shared beliefs, behaviors, and values that together shape and influence the way everybody within the business interacts with each other and makes decisions.

Although it may feel rather intangible, this culture defines the very essence of the workplace, and has a very real impact on all aspects of the business from the most mundane daily routine through to large scale strategies.

Katie Burke, chief people officer at HubSpot, provides her own definition of what a company culture is. She describes it as, “The Promise an organization makes to its candidates and employees about the environment they can expect and the values upon which the business operates.” I think this description helps to highlight the dual nature of a company culture: it is both a promise, and a practice – a way of helping to both set expectations and guide behavior across the business.

A company culture should help to make sure that all individuals within the business field are genuinely valued and understood. it should aim to include all of the attitudes, standards and goals of the company, guiding how all employees interact with each other, and with their clients.

But it’s important to also be aware the culture should not be considered a static and fixed pledge. As the company evolves over time, the company culture should also change, reflecting the new ambitions and personnel.

A company culture is also not something confined to the walls of the business. It is something which should be known more widely, as there is an increase in the number of respective employees actively seeking workplaces based at least in part on the culture. A strong and very positive culture can attract talented individuals who will embrace the company’s values and be enthusiastic about contributing towards its vision.

At the same time, a weak, poorly defined, or even negative culture can significantly put off potential hires, as well as contributing to higher turnover rates. A recent study by Columbia University found that the job turnover rates at organizations with a strong and very positive company culture is around 13.9%, compared to 48.4% in those companies with a poor culture.

But it goes even beyond this, because it has often been found that the company culture can impact on employees’ satisfaction and, in turn, productivity.

A workplace in which everybody feels motivated and positive will inevitably lead to higher levels of productivity and innovation.

So company culture is the heartbeat of an organization, and absolutely vital to the health and longevity of the business. It is dangerous to see the development of a company culture as something little more than a PR initiative; a positive culture is a strategic imperative for any business aiming for success and growth.

Examples of Great Company Cultures

Many people attribute Zoom’s remarkable success in the last few years to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this isn’t strictly true. Zoom has long been committed to employee happiness and flexibility. The company’s stated ethos of “delivering happiness” goes beyond its customers, to include its employees too.

Zoom aims to encourage an environment in which satisfaction and productivity is valued very highly. This is largely the reason why GlassDoor ranks it as one of the best places to work. It isn’t that the pandemic helped Zoom to grow; Zoom’s positive company culture was what allowed it to be adaptive and take advantage of the opportunity to grow, and to meet the global demand for the kind of service it offered.

Patagonia is a company well known for its environmental activism and ethical business practices, and it is at the root of this that its culture of integrity and commitment to the planet is embedded. The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, took the remarkable decision to donate the company to a Trust dedicated to environmental causes. This was directly in line with their mission statement of “We’re in business to save the planet.” Their company culture shows a commitment to sustainability and employee well-being, which includes a range of initiatives such as flexible working hours and paid time off for activism.

Intuit is the company behind tools such as TurboTax and QuickBooks and has a culture dedicated to employee prosperity, including a wide range of benefits that address the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of its employees. Intuit has a highly recognized culture of caring and flexibility, which is why it is widely regarded as a great place to work. The emphasis the company places on being both welcoming and inclusive directly contributes to its particularly high workplace satisfaction ratings. This is a clear demonstration of how a supportive culture within a business can help to both power the employees and increase the business’s prosperity.

HubSpot is known for its people first culture, with a number of policies that demonstrate this approach, such as its no door policy which actively promotes both transparency and accessibility throughout the business. The company’s culture is one that encourages both open communication and collaboration, and significant value is placed on each employee’s input, emphasizing the culture of both trust and mutual respect.

Zappos is another company with an exceptional culture that prioritizes team trust. The online retailer focuses specifically on creating a supportive and engaging environment in which employees are motivated by shared values and a commitment to delivering the very best customer service. Zappos’ approach to company culture is another example of how the successful alignment of both individual values and those of the organization as a whole can have a double success, with both employee satisfaction and successful business growth.

Additional Examples:

Spotnana has annual gatherings in which it fosters a sense of collaboration and a global community across its distributed workforce.

Edmunds has a monthly “Take the Wheel” event, the aim of which is to promote  cross-departmental learning.

Blackbaud Has a culture based on the idea of giving back, bringing employees together in a common cause of supporting non-profits, helping to strengthen team bonds and drive their collective achievement.

The 7 Elements of a Strong Company Culture

It’s crucial to understand that a company culture isn’t just the general ambience of the workplace. Nor is it simply a set of perks offered to the employees. A strong company culture is the backbone of a successful business, and will impact everything from employee satisfaction to the long-term success and growth of the business itself.

Here are the 7 key elements which are absolutely fundamental to developing and fostering a strong company culture.

1. Employee Feedback and Engagement: One of the most important aspects of a positive and effective company culture is having a continuous loop of feedback and engagement with its employees. Having an open dialogue where employees feel that their opinion is valued, and that even criticisms are all to be heard is vitally important. Companies should aim to actively seek out employee feedback, and to act upon this.

2. Leadership’s Role in Culture Building: It is critical to understand that within an organization the leaders are not there to enforce the culture, but to be its embodiment. The behaviors, decisions, and communications demonstrated by the leaders is what sets the tone for the entire organization. It is the leaders’ responsibility to be visible champions of the company’s culture, demonstrating every day the values and behaviors they wish to see throughout the whole organization.

3. Alignment with Company’s Mission and Values: A strong company culture helps employees understand that they are not just working towards individual goals, but are parts of a united team working towards a shared purpose. The culture needs to be grounded in the company’s core values, giving employees a sense of community and purpose. But it cannot be emphasized enough that these values should never just be words on a wall, but are put into practice in the daily operations and decisions of the overall business.

4. Inclusivity and Diversity: Inclusivity is essential for any company wanting to demonstrate resilience, innovation, and appeal to a broader pool of talent. It is vital to ensure that within the organization there is an environment that fosters a sense of feeling welcome and appreciation, with everyone’s unique perspectives and contributions genuinely valued.

5. Learning and Development: A vital part of a strong culture is having opportunities for continuous learning and development, as this demonstrates the organization’s commitment to employee growth. By demonstrating a genuine desire to invest in the professional development of their employees, companies not only enhance their own capability, but also demonstrate a genuine interest in the success and well-being of their employees – not just in the here and now, but for the longer term.

6. Recognition and Reward: We all like to be recognized for what we achieve and contribute to a company, and a positive company culture should definitely make this consistent and fair in order to reinforce the behaviors and values that contribute to the organization’s success.

7. Flexibility and Work-Life Balance: There’s no denying that since the pandemic the working environment has changed considerably, now offering significantly more flexibility as well as promoting a healthier work life balance overall. This also helps to demonstrate an understanding of, and respect for, the diverse needs and responsibilities of all employees – ultimately helping to support their overall well-being, not to mention their loyalty.

By taking into account these 7 points, organizations can help to build a positive and strong company culture that achieves two main things: it can help attract top talent, and it can also help to foster innovation and growth.

A company culture does not just happen by accident, it requires deliberate thought and genuine commitment from all of the leadership.

After Action Report: What Is Your Company’s Unique Fingerprint for Success?

At a time when there is a greater battle than ever for the top talent, and the pace at which technology is changing is accelerating faster than ever, having a strong company culture is absolutely essential.

For design agencies, web hosting companies, and indeed all modern businesses, it is vital to build a culture that both attracts the best talent as well as boosting growth and enhancing productivity.

A company’s culture is its fingerprint – it is unique, and clearly indicates its approach to businesses and people. This culture should positively impact every employee, and their clients. Creating and fostering a strong company culture that accurately reflects your business’s values and goals is an investment that must go far beyond what is often seen as little more than superficial perks. It requires a firm commitment to continuous improvement, open communication, leadership by example, a clear focus on inclusivity, and a positive balance between work and life.

If your company culture includes fostering open communications, positive collaboration, and maximizing efficiency then Atarim has your back.

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