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December 9, 2019
Brad Jamison

Why is company culture important to your brand’s success?

From the very start, your company culture is going to shape and impact how your organization grows. 

This has been true for decades. 

However, company culture might have never been as important as it is now, as it has a more significant impact on your ability to recruit and retain top talent. 

If you’re still asking yourself, “Why is company culture important?” take a look at the millennial generation.

According to Forbes, millennials are the ones driving workplace changes. More than any other factor, they desire a strong company culture when determining which company to work for.

(Speaking of millennials, here's what they want in the workplace, in case you're curious.)

You can start giving prospective employees an idea of what your company culture is like in a job description and during the interview process. People know when a potential employer is:

  • Treating them with respect
  • Interested in them as individuals rather than cogs in the machine
  • Willing to help them grow

Of course, you’ll have to follow through on your promises—directly and indirectly—related to new hires.

What is company culture? 

Before you can ask why company culture is important, you need a firm idea of what company culture actually is.

Here’s one way to define company culture:

Company culture is like your best friend’s personality—it compliments you and in some ways defines you. Of course, it’s not your best friend, it’s actually your business, which means you spend even more time with it.

Company culture encompasses everything from company values, expectations, ethics, a mission statement, and work environment. 

That said, company culture isn’t about just what you put down on paper. For example, you can’t say you’ve got a relaxed, fun company culture and then enforce dress code rules that include ties. 

So, in other words, company culture is the reality of the workplace. It encompasses every aspect of the work environment.

There are toxic company cultures, such as the one at Theranos brought to light by John Carreyrou’s book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the beloved, socially-conscious company culture at Salesforce.

Keep in mind that different company cultures work better or worse for various companies—one company doesn’t have to have the same “personality” as another. In fact, it’s better if your company’s culture is considered as unique compared to others in the same space. 

How job descriptions reflect your company culture

The job description you post is often the first time an applicant interacts with your company and brand in a professional setting. You want that first impression to not only be positive but to accurately reflect your company culture.

When you write a job description that accurately references your company culture and objectives, you give yourself the best chance of attracting applicants who will actually fit into your company culture. To be effective, make sure to lay out relevant company goals and ethos while using language that is in sync with your company culture. 

Often, a job description will focus on hard skills. This addresses what an applicant needs in the way of experience and technical skills. And though those are essential elements of a job description, you’ll also want to include soft skills

The list of soft skills you include in a job description gives you a lot more latitude in describing the work environment and the type of person you think would thrive in this environment. By covering your bases with details surrounding desired hard and soft skills, you’ll do a better job of attracting an ideal fit for your company culture. 

How to communicate your great company culture to new hires

Hiring employees who are a great company culture fit is just the beginning. In order for them to hit the ground running in their new role, you’ll have to help with some onboarding. 

The best place to start is by explaining what your company culture is and how it's incorporated into everything your team does. Take the time to show them that your organizational charts, benefits packages, policies, procedures, and communication systems were all put in place to honor your culture.

When a new employee asks “Why is company culture important to you?”, you need to be able to clearly articulate why the culture you’ve created is important—and why it works. 

There are no wrong answers here—honesty is the best policy. If you have a traditional corporate culture, including siloing information to ensure security, let them know that’s what you do and educate them as to why you do it. If it’s a more relaxed work environment with a less traditional management structure, let them know how that benefits them as employees and the company as a whole.

It’s possible to answer a lot of the questions new employees might have about your company culture during the onboarding process by giving them the basic information of what to wear, where to park, where they’ll be sitting, who they’ll be working with, and what people typically do for lunch. All this information provides useful insight into your company’s culture.

How to live your company culture

Living the company culture starts at the top of the food chain, so to speak. 

You need to adhere to your own policies, rules, and expectations as established by your company culture. 

According to Forbes, all the best managers lead by example. This is because it’s incredibly effective, and it makes people want to follow you.

Though there is nothing better than leading by example, there are a few other tools you might want to have in place when it comes to helping employees live the company culture.

One way of doing this is through culture training—even though such programs run the risk of raising sarcastic eyebrows. That said, there are a number of effective programs that might be a good fit for your company. 

Such work is especially helpful in situations where you have to revamp company culture, as was the case for Uber.

Another incredibly helpful tool to have on hand are perk programs

Reward programs can be built directly into your company culture, helping you attract and retain talent. The reality is that 40% of employees have said they would leave their current job for one with more fringe benefits, while 68% said that perks are just as important as healthcare coverage. 

By integrating perk programs into your business model, you can create a work culture that not only attracts the best, but retains the best talent.

Along the same line of thinking is the idea of empowering your cultural champions. 

Every workplace has leaders who fully embody a company’s culture. It’s important to recognize these individuals. How you recognize these leaders will depend heavily on what kind of culture you have.

Company culture ideas: Key takeaways for supporting your company culture

Though you will, without a doubt, want to create a company culture that is true to your business. It’s also vital to recognize that times are changing with regards to what talented employees want from a company’s culture.

That said, some of what millennials and Generation Z employees want is pretty straightforward.

Consider these company culture ideas:

  • Demonstrate respect: Knowing what your employees actually do is the first step in demonstrating that you respect them and their work. As insane as it might sound, one survey revealed that only 54% of employees think their leaders actually know what they do at work.
  • Provide feedback: More so now than ever, employees want feedback. They live in a world of constant feedback via social media and have come to expect a certain amount of employer feedback to prevent them from feeling like they’re screaming into a void—so to speak.
  • Show appreciation: Demonstrating your appreciation for employees is essential. How you do it can be specific to your company culture. Just remember that employees who feel appreciated are 5X more likely to stick around at your company.
  • Develop trust: Employees trusting company leaders is essential to a strong corporate culture. Sadly, nearly half of employees do not feel positive about those in charge. A good place to start here is running employee feedback surveys.
  • Recognize great work:  So much of strong company culture comes down to good communication. This includes recognizing employees who are doing good work and are positive role models for company culture. According to Forbes, companies can witness a 200% increase in cases of fantastic work when they start recognizing employees.

Final thoughts: Why is company culture important to your success?

Your company culture can guide the growth of your company as you attract and retain talented people. To find success, be honest about what the culture is actually like, rather than trying to con talent into joining your team with false promises. If your business runs well on a standard management model with the 9 to 5 workday, that’s fine—but don’t make your focus attracting millennials or people in Generation Z who are pushing for more flexible hours.

By carefully crafting your job description and a well-honed system for onboarding, you can focus your attention on applicants who are the best fit for your company and quickly integrate them into your company’s culture.

Remember, the culture doesn’t necessarily have to be fun; it just needs to keep employees happy. Fulfilled people work harder to make their companies a success

Curious to learn more about if a perk program is a good fit for your company culture? You're in luck—the Zestful team happens to be experts. Let's chat!

Zestful: recognize and reward your employees—minus the admin work.

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