What is corporate culture?
Corporate culture (or organizational culture) refers to the values and behaviors that make up the office life climate, define the way employees and management interact, and influence the company’s outside business transactions.
In most cases, corporate culture is something that develops over time and is implied rather than being defined. It can extend to everything from the employees’ dress code, to how meetings are conducted, to hiring decisions and internal communication. Saying this, it can be something to consider when starting a business, even if this company vision evolves with the growth of the business.
Examples of corporate culture
To understand what corporate culture is, ask a friend to describe the company they work for. They might say, it’s collaborative and everyone is really friendly. Or they may discuss the good conditions, flexible hours, encouraged vacation time or fun work trips. All of these elements (and many more) make up a corporate culture.
Some practical examples of this include, Spotify which uses the principles of agile management (a style that focuses on delivering work with a flexible trial-and-error strategy). Warby Parker, on online prescription glasses store, encourages positive office culture by regularly scheduling fun activities and events. In order to make sure the entire team is in good relations, random employees are selected to eat lunch together.
Why corporate culture matters
Every business, regardless of its size, should aim to create a positive corporate environment. A thriving work life makes for loyal and dedicated employees, giving your company a competitive edge. In a ‘healthy’ structure, employees see themselves as part of a team and work with the benefit of the company in mind. In a negative environment, workers see themselves as individuals and feel their only benefit to staying is the promise of a paycheck at the end of every month.
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Elements that shape a positive corporate culture
Vision: Stemming from a company’s mission statement, the vision dictates the values and actions a company takes in order to fulfill their business goals. The more clearly and frequently your vision is articulated (through company updates, meetings with management, well defined project goals, your business website etc.), the better employees can relate their daily tasks to the bigger picture and find motivation as a result. Make this a core part of your Human Resources Guide too.
Values: If the vision of a company is what it aims to achieve, the values are the guidelines to get there. Examples include transparency, innovation, loyalty or consistency. When these values are well defined, they can foster a unified r frame of mind amongst offices and employees.
Environment: The physical environment of your office will impact the mood of team members as well as how they interact with each other. A dark, cramped space is bound to foster negative feelings, whereas a light, open-plan and colorful office could spark feelings of creativity and satisfaction.
People: A company can envision a corporate culture, but it’s the people you hire that make it come to life. Consider this when hiring new employees. Do they fit in with the ‘vibe’ you’re looking to put in place or maintain? It's also to consider your human resource management and how this connects with your hiring process too.
Actions: The way your business communicates decisions or delivers updates (both good and bad) should reflect the values and vision your company has set. You, as management, need to set the example of your company culture.
Socializing opportunities: In order to create more personable relations between co-workers, provide work appropriate social opportunities like fun days, team building activities or after work drinks. This helps with bonding, which makes employees feel more connected to each other and their company.