“Stamina, energy and resilience.”
What is ‘Corporate Culture’
Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations.
It also defines company-wide value systems, management strategies, employee communication and relations, work environment, attitude, and even company origin myths and legends. It provides a framework or behaviour pattern that becomes almost like the DNA of a business.
A good job isn’t just about the salary, the hours, the job title and fringe benefits. Most people want to feel like their work is contributing to the greater good of business and by extension the community and the world.
People want their workplaces to be fun, not miserably stressful, given how many hours of their lives they will spend at their work place.
Culture guides discretionary behaviour and a fundamental way to deal with the work place, the management, co- workers and of course clients. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to address or hide problems.
The workplace should not be something that people dread every day. Employees should look forward to going to their jobs. In fact, they should have a hard time leaving because they enjoy the challenges, their co-workers, and the atmosphere. The work place shouldn’t provoke stress in employees or management. While the work may be difficult, the culture shouldn’t add to the stress of the work. On the contrary, the culture should be designed to alleviate the work related stress of the employee and provide a smooth, trouble free and enjoyable experience for the client.
Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is their guide. Culture tells them what to do when the boss isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.
The people you hire represent your company even outside of work. If you meet someone and they tell you where they work, your perception of that place will change based on your opinion of the person. If they’re nice, you’ll view the company in a positive light. If they’re rude or abrasive, you won’t view the company favourably. This effect can be even greater when it’s a company you’ve never heard of and didn’t previously have any opinion of. If the person is helpful, you’ll view the company as helpful. This is why it’s important to hire people who share your company’s values. It all starts at the interview, from the perspective of both the employer and the possible employee, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
If you are an employer and have a culture of punctuality, tidiness and courtesy, why would you hire a person who arrives 10 minutes late, with their shirt hanging out, scruffy shoes and says “your elevator in this building is a bit slow”.
If you are an employee who has pride in his/her work, is a self-starter and likes a little bit of autonomy why would you accept a position from an employer who greets you and says “take a seat!”. Does not look you in the eye and then proceeds to tell you how strictly they enforce their rules, that you will be required to work to a strict schedule and have everything you do checked by your superior before you present it to the client?
One bad employee appointment can affect an entire department or a complete business and possibly dozens of customers. Business decline and employee unrest can happen quickly, acting like a virus that spreads. The other employees will talk about the poor choice of that employee; and if action isn’t taken, it can get much worse.
But the good thing is that any damage can be reversed if quick action is taken. More than that, your values can be reinforced at the same time. If you release that toxic employee, it’ll show other employees that you appreciate them and are serious about the culture of your business.
Can you change a culture?
Extract from an article on News.com.au on Tuesday 12 April 2016, by Frank Chung in respect to the problems faced in Australia by the Department store “Target”.
The problem is simple: Target doesn’t know what it wants to be, and much like Big W, customers don’t know what it is anymore.
The problems can be traced all the way back to 2011, but insiders point to the departure of former chief financial officer Nicole Peck in late 2013 as a turning point.
Peck, a 20-year veteran of the company, left along with a number of other staff because the “culture was terrible”, according to one source. She now heads up finances at Just Group, owned by Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments.
If you’re not happy with your current culture, there are things you can do to start changing it now. Look for a symbol, story, ritual or other tool you could use to bring out the values and practices you want for your company. Your cultural tool might be a new corporate logo symbolizing your company’s personality. Or you could choose a story to embody your approach and make it part of your culture. If you can’t find a tool, make one. For example, you can turn an admired former employee into a symbol by giving an award named after that individual, complete with ritual ceremony.
Consider offering perks such as flexitime, tuition reimbursement, free employee lunches, rewards of services like oil changes for employees’ cars, massages, fitness classes, car washes and a hair styling.
One of the things I learnt from my father’s boss when I was a very young man was that he thanked his staff as they left the work place. I adopted that culture in my business that employed 14 people between 1975 and 1995. I thanked my staff for their efforts each and every day. I booked out a restaurant on a Saturday night in early December for staff and their partners for our Christmas party.
My staff were my conduit to the life blood of my business which of course was my clients. The culture of my business set the platform for harmony, extraordinary effort and success. The result was a very low staff turnover, a list of people from my competitors who asked for consideration next time I had a vacancy, very happy clients and a very successful business.
Through the research I have done on this topic I conclude that business culture is the foundation on which all other aspects of a business including marketing are built.