Once, American workers used to be solely concerned over variables such as compensation or benefits when applying for work. Today, however, a survey conducted by The Harris Poll reveals millennials are prioritizing work culture for more meaningful workplace experiences. As many as 73% of respondents from the US, UK, France, and Germany said they would not apply to a company if its values did not align with their own.
Many employers and HR management officers are thus scrambling to keep up with the latest trend: building a successful company culture in order to attract new talent, especially as the phenomena like the Great Resignation and the global worker shortage are still well underway. If attracting top talent is something you think your business should prioritize, it’s important that you’re able to understand what goes into successful company culture, and why it’s something that workers are prioritizing in their job searches.
If you’re unsure where to start, here’s our quick guide to help you out.
What is company culture?
While it may sound like a vague concept, company culture actually encompasses a holistic range of shared values, goals, attitudes, ethics, and leadership styles, which all come together to characterize an organization. In practice, this can generally manifest in formal and informal systems.
There may be great perks like unlimited vacation time that may help shape company culture. However, these do not necessarily make a great workplace — the experiences of workers do. Are workers capable of freely asking for a vacation from their managers? Does management encourage vacation time and healthy work boundaries to promote a work-life balance? Do workers and managers openly communicate about factors that may cause the need or desire for a vacation without fear of repercussion?
Analyzing variables from how decisions are made, how employees communicate with each other, how people are hired or promoted, and even how people are fired can help describe a company’s culture. Depending on the trends of society, what “successful” company culture is can vary.
Building a successful company culture
After the Covid-19 pandemic threatened society, industry, and the economy, many employees have begun reassessing their priorities. The demands of the current workforce now center around the importance of self-growth and empowerment, as well as compassion and good mental health in the workplace. Workers now see that time is too much of a valuable resource to waste being unhappy at work, tiptoeing around supervisors, and bending over backward to meet unreasonable standards.
These new priorities have manifested in an upsurge of training opportunities within the workplace, with a reported increase in the budget for training from 67% of HR managers as of 2022. A guide by LHH on building a culture that supports internal talent development details how senior leaders must pave the way towards formalizing a system of internal mobility. This can inspire workers to upskill. Here, the increased abilities will not only benefit the company’s output, but will also lead workers to believe that employers care about their personal well-being. This in turn increases morale and productivity.
Otherwise, senior leaders can promote transparency to employees, customers, and key stakeholders. Pushpay CEO Molly Matthews explains that an open door policy with clear goals for internal teams can help improve company culture in just a year. This improved communication will ease bureaucratic relationships that tend to lead to internal competition.
The importance of company culture for business success
A toxic workplace culture — where workers play by internal politics of age, gender, and seniority alongside putting in insane hours — is a common root of employee dissatisfaction. In fact, cut-throat culture according to the BBC has been a fixture of workplaces for decades, resulting in a difficulty in employing or retaining workers.
Recent studies have highlighted how retaining workers is a much more cost-efficient practice than hiring and training new ones. Continuous shifts in the workforce are unsustainable and a costly venture. This can affect regular business operations, as the lack of budget and discordant relations could lead to decreased productivity.
That is why we continuously stress the importance of an employee-centric culture. As we’ve discussed previously in the Best Organizational Structure, being employee-centric means taking care of your company’s primary stakeholders as the driving force of its productivity. By offering compensation that justifiably matches workers’ skillsets, more paid leaves, and a more flexible schedule for a better work-life balance — while simultaneously encouraging open communication, transparency, creativity, innovation, and camaraderie — employers can lower turnover rates, drive fresh ideas, increase productivity, and ultimately attract more customers for overall business success.
Creating a successful company culture is a win-win situation. These mechanisms that allow employees to thrive can create benefits for both individuals and organizations, ensuring that companies continue to flourish and stay on top of the competition.