Together, Teamwork, Business cultureA 5 minute read

What is business culture and how do you reshape it?

A businesses culture has always been important, but it’s only become a popular point of discussion in the past 20 years or so.

This article is the second in a series (you can read the first article, about Business Plans if you haven’t already) which looks at practical tips for business growth, success and expansion. The insight contained is derived from working closely with business owners to improve company performance, and clients who have taken part in a HM War Room session.

Why has the importance of corporate culture seemingly increased exponentially as the workplace continues to evolve?

One reason is competition. The culture fostered by businesses has never been more important as businesses compete in a more fluid and transparent market place. Workplace studies have indicated measurable increases in turnover for those businesses that have a focus on developing their culture and conversationally, I have observed that culture is mentioned more frequently by businesses, employees, and consultants.

Another key factor is competitive advantage. For those businesses that are motivated to improve their culture one of the biggest factors is that corporate culture is becoming a more popular consideration – in a competitive world, there is recognition that developing a contemporary businesses culture can provide a competitive advantage.

More businesses are shifting attention to the creation of more thorough brand cultures, and preserving them through ongoing development.

So, what are the practical considerations for improving a business culture?

Below I have set out the benefits of working hard to develop a culture that is engaging and works in harmony towards the goals set by business:

  • Business culture: identity

A strong culture is one which contributes to and enhances the identity and values of a business.

A business that places a priority on the setting and meeting of goals can have a reasonable expectation that its employees will be more likely to set and meet goals of their own. Likewise a business that has its origins in innovation needs to encourage that collective and individual ability to think outside of the box.

In short the culture has to be empathetic with the business strategy and the business strategy needs to be aware of the relevance of its culture to the success of that business. They are intertwined.

Defining your businesses identity is a good way to set and maintain the direction of your business and its employees. Developing core values based on company and employee objectives contribute to a business identity and also help to drive the right behaviour.

  • Attraction & Retention of Quality Talent

A positive company culture attracts better talent and, more importantly, retains that talent. When people feel like they belong to a business with a positive working culture, they are more likely to stick around for the long term. Consistency in methodology and personnel must provide for a better opportunity to implement plans. A lower turnover of employees reduces the administrative burden imposed by new hires, saves the direct costs associated with recruitment and through longevity drives a better chemistry throughout teams and departments. According to ACAS on average, the cost of replacing an employee can be £30k.

Naturally the attraction and retention of key employees will come from great leadership in which there is a clear “mission” and purpose in the tasks being completed. Key people also need to be able to touch and feel the opportunity delivered by a clearly defined promotion plans, personalised training and development plans – not to mention recognition and reward. The investment needed to get this right is as much emotional as it is financial. The task is to be as engaging as you can be within your particular financial constraints.

  • Creating a positive cultural image

Clearly the image that you want your business to have is dependent upon target demographics. Invariably this image is achieved in numerous ways but your employees will help to deliver that image if the culture is set correctly. If you treat your employees well and have a fun-loving and yet professional atmosphere, your customers will see you as a fun-loving and generous brand: which is more likely to act as a magnet to doing business with you than if the reverse was true.

Recognition that the best ambassadors for your business are those that work within it helps to specifically target the positive impact engaged employees can have! Even the best restaurant serving the best food can come unstuck if the culture allows for a slip in standards when it comes to service. For those businesses that are more remote in delivery, service can take on a different meaning as improvements can be sought through the smart use of technology to ensure better execution.

Company culture overall is increasing in importance, which means that the dimensions mentioned above will increase in line with that expansion. There is no sector that is immune from considering the importance of nurturing a good culture – if you are not at least maintaining a pace you are going to fall behind.

I am sure that none of the above points are unfamiliar. For you and the culture of your business, the questions remain:

  1. What are you doing about it now? and
  2. What will you be doing about it in the future?

Building a positive culture is unique to each business, its objectives and employees. Speaking with an expert business adviser is one recommendation to help you focus in the right areas, and we can certainly all learn from companies that have developed fantastic working cultures. []

More information

If you would like an informal discussion about the corporate culture of your business, or about booking a session in the HM War Room, please contact Steve Harvey or call Steve on 07801 313617.

The next article in this series offers practical advice on how to implement a successful business strategy.

Building business success: the series

For more business advice, read the first article in this series: Executing Business Plans – The Importance of Getting the Basics Right