There was a time when a workplace was simply a place to complete various tasks each day and collect a paycheck. Today, effective corporate and business environments need to be backed by a culture where productivity and creativity can thrive. But how important is workplace culture? According to “The Culture Cycle” author James L. Heskett, an effective culture can boost corporate performance by as much as 30 percent over competitors lacking the same workplace dynamics. But what does it take to create a clearly defined company culture within your working environment? Start with the following fundamentals.
Everybody on your team should have a common purpose, or vision, in the form of a mission statement. You may know the importance of doing this for marketing purposes, but it’s just as important to give your employees some common goals and objectives. A clear vision can also attract investors and even potential new employees already established with your industry who wish to come on board and contribute to your success. Some visions or mission statements are short and sweet but still very effective and impactful. For example, the American Cancer Association is dedicated to “eliminating cancer as a global health problem.”
The heart of a company’s culture is its values, referring to core beliefs and mindsets. Values generally provide guidance for every possible type of interaction, including ones involving employees, customers, and clients. Your company’s values don’t necessarily have to be all that original. After all, there are plenty of companies that aspire to maintain professionalism and put customers first. Yet the values that define the way you do business do have to be authentic and meaningful.
It’s one thing to have a vision or a set of values in place and another thing to actually act on those things. You’re more likely to retain top-quality employees if there is clear evidence your company is practicing what it preaches. For instance, if your business has an open culture where everyone is encouraged to participate in discussions and decisions, then your employees should actually feel free to throw their two cents in without fear of repercussions or reprimands. Millennials, in particular, tend to look for evidence that values are being actively implemented and embraced when deciding where they’ll work and if they’ll stick around.
It’s a lot easier to build a productive company culture if it’s staffed by people with common values and goals. At the very least, you want people on board willing to adopt and embrace your business’ core beliefs and objectives. This is why many of the companies known for having excellent internal cultures and being great places to work have comprehensive recruiting processes. Having talented people who already fit into a corporate culture can also reduce turnover rates and even minimize the expenses sometimes needed to entice skilled individuals to stay. In fact, a Monster.com survey found that turnover in business environments where there was cultural alignment was 30 percent lower than businesses that didn’t have this cohesiveness. The same survey found that applicants would even accept a lower salary from a company where they fit into the established culture.
The story behind your business is what can serve as the foundation for its culture. Brands like Coca-Cola, Johnson + Johnson, Disney, and Hershey’s have all done this successfully, so much so that their cultures are clearly defined among the general public. Apple made its history of innovation part of its corporate culture with tales of how Steve Jobs’ early endeavors and interests shaped his company’s desire to make technology accessible and functional. You can do the same thing on a smaller scale by finding ways to put your company’s narrative front and center in a way that better defines your workplace culture.
It’s not such a coincidence that Silicon Valley is known as the home to many tech giants and New York City is the financial capital of the world. Culture is further enhanced by physical surroundings, whether those environments are in the form of clusters of companies in the same geographic areas or within the confines of a business space. A growing trend that reflects the importance of place is open architecture where barriers are minimal and workspaces are more communal in nature. The reason for this trend is because open spaces where everyone mingles and interacts have been shown to be conducive to the collaboration and teamwork that can contribute to collectively generated ideas and increased productivity.
If your business or corporate culture could use some fine-tuning, a good place to start is by using your available spaces more effectively and efficiently to set the tone for a more interactive office culture. You’ll have to work on things like vision, practices, and narrative yourself since these are individualized factors that are (or should be) different for each business. But what Office Innovations can do is help you reconfigure your interior spaces with the right office furniture and accessories so your interior setup is more likely to inspire communication and cooperation in a way that reflects your company’s culture.