A Deloitte study found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct culture is important for the success of a business.
It’s what can set your business apart, it can attract not just the top but the right kind of talent, and it can bring out the best in your team.
However, workplace culture can be a tricky thing and in a post-covid world where the way we work has shifted, it’s arguably more challenging than ever.
But the dramatic effect the pandemic has had on working habits gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate our workplace culture. To look at which parts of our pre-covid culture we want to retain and which we want to change.
So what makes a good workplace culture?
It’s got to be aligned with your purpose and values
Your workplace culture should stem from your purpose and values – or it won’t be authentic, just a jumble of behaviours and perks. Your purpose is the direction you’re going in and your values are the way you’ll achieve that. Your culture should be made up of behaviours and habits that reflect your values and purpose.
Good foundations for a strong culture
Communication and collaboration
Be open, communicate often and make sure everyone knows what your purpose and values are and why they are important. When your whole team is invested in the direction you’re going in and are invited to play a role in getting you there they will be more engaged. Treating people like collaborators in the business rather than employees empowers them to do their best work and creates a culture where people feel connected to your purpose.
Anyone can offer an office perk, a beer fridge, a fruit bowl, gym membership, and while benefits like these are still important, they don’t on their own develop culture – and with a geographically fragmented team have less relevance. Meaningful rituals, however, can connect your team to your values and purpose through shared experience. There isn't a one size fits all answer to what makes a good ritual – it could be based around shared learning, eating together, getting outdoor exercise together, marking birthdays with a collective cake drop, or just all downing tools at 3pm on a Friday. Think about what rituals could align with your values and will stick.
Growth and development
A team that grows together stays together. Put in place a clear and democratic development programme and give your team space to grow. Development is about more than promotions or sending people on courses, think about buddying up new hires with established team members, encouraging cross-department collaboration and lunch and learn sessions.
Be consistent and authentic
Office – and remote working – trends will come and go. Remember when everyone had a ping-pong table and little patches of fake grass? When Friday Zoom quizzes were all the rage? Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing and try to replicate the latest trends, what’s right for the culture of one business will jar with the culture of another. Put in place authentic habits and rituals, and while change is good, don’t feel like you need to introduce new things all the time.
How to maintain your culture
Establishing the right culture is only the start, it’s really important to maintain it and build on it. Putting the right foundations in place will make sure your culture doesn’t suffer amidst the demands of projects, deadlines and clients.
Set up a culture committee
This is important for a couple of reasons. Giving a set of people responsibility for culture will make sure it doesn’t get lost in competing priorities and it also gives your team ownership of the culture they work in.
Do an annual culture audit
Working with your culture committee do an annual audit to check how all aspects of your business are aligning with your culture. It’s a great way to identify any blockers, challenges and refocus for the year ahead.
When you’ve got a great company culture it’s something to shout about – to your current team and prospective team members. Think about ways to highlight the initiatives and people that embody your culture – it could be annual awards or a monthly cultural champion. And when it comes to prospective team members make sure your culture comes through at every touch point of the recruitment process, if you haven’t got an employer brand think about putting one in place – it’s a great way to ensure new staff understand what makes your culture special.
Lead by example
For a purposeful and aligned culture to really flourish it's got to stem from the top. When a leader always leads with culture in mind, it becomes embedded in processes and behaviours and truly connects with their team. Getting a great workplace culture won’t happen overnight and as your business evolves and grows your culture will need to evolve to reflect that. But when great cultures lead to happy teams and growing businesses, it’s an investment worth making.
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