As any successful business owner can tell you, there’s a whole lot more to a thriving workplace than profits.
In fact, a positive and supportive company culture may be even more important than the number of zeros in your bottom line during a single given year. Company culture is more about the long-term health of a business than short-term or general profitability. For that reason, measuring company culture and understanding how to influence it are vital to the longevity and overall success of your business—both now and in the future.
What is Company Culture and Why is It Important?
According to Greg Besner, the founder and CEO of CultureIQ, “company culture is the set of behaviors that determine how things get done in a company.” In more detail, a company’s culture is linked to its vision, general operating practices, and interpersonal interactions within the company. Basically, it’s the overall quality of how people interact with one another in the company, from the highest management to the part-time cleaning staff.
Its value is locked solely in the people that make up your company. A positive company culture is important for the following reasons:
- Employee recruitment: a positive and productive culture attracts skilled employees.
- Employee retention: no one wants to work in a negative environment.
- On-the-job efficiency: you can accomplish more when communication is high and your skills are valued.
What Company Culture Metrics are Important?
Once you’ve established that you want to focus on company culture, the first step is determining how exactly you should measure it. While most can agree that it exists, measuring company culture is much more difficult because of its somewhat insubstantial nature. However, it is possible. When establishing your company culture metrics and measurement process, focus on the following workplace qualities:
- Capabilities and competency - development of inner (attitude, approach, etc.) and outer (skills) competencies.
- Engagement or commitment - employee motivation and willingness to perform the work
- Alignment - how in sync each level and department is with the company’s goals, vision, and purpose
- Individual and team performance - measuring not only individual success, but team interaction as well
How Can I Change My Company Culture for the Better?
After measuring company culture based on your established company culture metrics, you can begin to decide what to do with the information. For some companies, this data may be best used for training your management team or adjusting the general organizational policies. For other companies that have a serious work environment or perceived branding concerns, a major overhaul may be in order.
The most important place to start is your company’s overall set of values and your company vision. Even more important, you must also consider how to apply those values across every department within your organization. What actions, attitudes, and impressions are important to your company? Then, how can those values become a part of every employee, customer, and management interaction?
Ultimately, major changes in company culture will take time, and there are some pitfalls to be wary of. To start, make sure you are aware of the importance of communication, collaborative change, and accurate systems of measurement. Data informing you that everyone completed your training does not necessarily mean that the training was truly absorbed or that the cultural changes are being implemented across all sectors of your business.
Adjusting your company’s culture will require the full support of all of your leadership team and, eventually, the engagement of every employee. Such an endeavor can start small, but it means so much more than a simple policy or procedural shift. You will be working to create a mood and influence a feeling that is as real as it is intangible. No doubt, you’ll have your work cut out for you, but the results—should you be successful in creating a strong, positive company culture—can be astounding.
About the Author - Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .
Top Photo Courtesy of Lisa Brewster @ Flickr CC.