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Company culture is sometimes overlooked but following the global pandemic and the shift in power from employer to employee, there has never been a more vital time to get it right.

What is company culture or corporate culture?

In this article, Forbes defines company culture as: “the patterns of thinking and behaving that are recognized mainly and espoused.”

Most businesses will have a set of core values; the usual suspects are honesty, integrity and trust. However, the true importance of these values, which define company culture, is sometimes overlooked. They are the foundations upon which all businesses should be built. They should be used to advise upon key business decisions, such as who to hire. Potential employees will already have a set of core beliefs and inherited values which have become part of who they are – and it’s important for these to match with company culture.

If someone works for a firm where they don’t fit in with the company culture, they are likely to be dissatisfied with their job or working environment. For example, if that person prefers to work alone but has ended up working for a business which values collaboration, they are likely to be unhappy, unproductive, and might not be the best fit for that business.

Why is creating a good culture in the workplace important?

According to Qualtrics, a good company culture can increase employee engagement and engaged workplaces are 21% more profitable than those that are not.

By aligning company culture in the workplace with staff values, companies have seen a 4x increase in revenue growth, according to Forbes. Employees will stay with companies longer and become advocates for what the business aims to achieve, because their own values reflect it.

Building a strong company culture to increase staff retention

This article from Entrepreneur observes how many employees have been leaving workplaces in droves because the pandemic has made them re-evaluate the environment in which they spend most of their time. The article says: “Employees no longer want to experience burnout in the workplace. They want their employers to invest in them just as much as they’ve invested their time and energy into that company.” If the company culture doesn’t fit with their values, they will find a company which more closely aligns with what they believe.

Coaching with Georgie

Companies can invest in their employees by assisting with training and exploring the needs of the individual and their aims and ambitions. By supporting them, the company is making a commitment to that person, just as the person as made a commitment to serve that company.

Company culture should also form a key part of the hiring process. Rita Trehan, founder and CEO of DARE Worldwide told People Management in this article: “Hiring decisions that don’t turn out well often fall foul not because of the expertise of the individual hired but due to cultural fit. Companies should spend as much time as they do on checking capabilities as they do in being transparent about the work culture and expectations.”

What is an example of good company culture?

Did you know that 70% of Netflix employees leave Glassdoor reviews saying they would recommend working there? The Netflix manifesto, which sets out the company culture, places emphasis on employing people with adultlike traits, who would naturally do the logical thing, who are clear communicators and who have the courage to speak up. The company obviously values emotional intelligence.

How has the pandemic changed approaches to company culture?

The pandemic has changed the way we work and our working lives in so many ways. It really tested companies on how they act when their employees need them the most. Were staff given the tools, resources and support needed to succeed during turbulence, or did bosses bury their heads in the sand? Company culture will have played a big part in a business’ success.

How has company culture changed with hybrid working?

The pandemic also led to a sharp rise in hybrid working, keeping a balance been the office and home working. However, with the return to offices, it also presented more of a challenge to company culture in the workplace, with a stronger need for consistency between those in the office and those working remotely.

In an article by Harvard Business Review on hybrid working, it was anticipated that the office would become a space to provide workers with “a social anchor, facilitating connections, enabling learning, and fostering unscripted, innovative collaboration.”

There is only so much we can communicate over video calls. You would be surprised by how much we communicate through body language and environmental awareness. By being present and having a face-to-face conversation, we can better interpret others’ moods and personalities, making it easier to build relationships.

When it comes to establishing company culture, physical meetings can better indicate a sense of passion, enthusiasm, compassion and deeper emotive understanding than what can be communicated over Microsoft Teams. In fact, Microsoft published a study on one of its teams during the pandemic, which found that with offices closed, shorter meetings increased while longer meetings decreased. The study also discovered that quick check-ins, 1:1s, and scheduled social meetings increased – showing that people were using technology to try and claw back some of the social experiences they were deprived of during the pandemic.

There is also the knowledge gap and learned company culture to consider when it comes to non-office-based working. Someone may feel subconscious about constantly having to message or email questions they may have when they start a new role, compared to just being able to turn around in their chair and ask someone. There will be a lot about company culture which is learned by listening or observation in an office environment which cannot be replicated remotely.

What skills are needed to create positive workplace culture?

Strong leadership enables company culture to be spread among teams and ensures everyone is on the same page. Good communication allows for these values to be identified and nourished in order to create a positive workplace culture. However, many businesses do not take the time to explore these values and connect teams in this way.

When considering approaches to developing a positive company culture, businesses may consider techniques such as pulse surveys, which can be used to check in with staff multiple times a year to ensure values are still aligning and identify any problem areas earlier.

Coaching with Georgie

Company culture and psychological safety in the workplace dictates how safe we feel, and ultimately impacts our engagement, trust and motivation to fulfil our roles, and more importantly – our purpose.

Companies should consider taking teams away from the typical office environment to encourage staff to take an introspective approach through targeted reflection.

One extremely effective and engaging way to assess company culture in relation to small teams is via horse-led facilitation. My technique allows you time away to connect in the present moment. Past events are usually left at the gate, along with the mobile phones, as we explore what makes your team great at what they do and why! These learnings can then be factored into your company culture.

Horse-led facilitation provides:

Horses have an exceptional level of awareness, meaning that they can understand situations and emotions deeply. They are also attentive to body language, voice, and the energy we exude. Time spent around these beautiful animals produces a rich environment for learning, focus and growth.

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Julia with horse

Julia Jones

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