What Company Culture Is…And Is Not

the abplatform resource blog company culture

Here is a fact: A healthy company culture is not just a nice-to-have on a potential employee’s job requirement checklist. It’s the first thing on their checklist.

And here is another fact: Free Beer Fridays, Lego building contests, pet insurance, a personal assistant for every employee, and other perks are NOT part of the company’s culture.

With over a third of U.S. workers saying they are willing to pass on the perfect job if the company culture isn’t a good fit—it’s a good idea to define what company culture is.

 

Science and Psychology of Company Culture

There is no one exact definition of company culture, but to simplify the main ideas, it’s a culture that is based on the shared norms, values, and practices that form the foundation of how people within the group think, act, and live. If we take a deeper dive, workplace culture is one part science and one part psychology.

Scientifically, company culture can be understood through various theoretical frameworks such as social psychology, organizational behavior, and sociology. These perspectives emphasize the role of social dynamics, group norms, leadership styles, and organizational structures in shaping and sustaining a company's culture.

From a psychological standpoint, company culture influences employee motivation, satisfaction, and performance, while sociologically, it reflects broader societal norms and values within the organizational context.

Now that we have that out of the way, what are employees looking for when it comes to company culture?

 

A Good Fit

When a potential employee applies for a job, they want to understand how well they’ll fit within that organization—and how well that job fits into their lifestyle. Not only does company culture figure into their overall work experience and professional fulfillment, but employees are also seeking a culture that fosters a sense of belonging and purpose and makes them feel valued and motivated to give their jobs their all.  Ultimately, for prospective employees, a company's culture serves as a vital indicator of its commitment to their holistic development and success within the organization.

 

Better Business Outcomes

Having a healthy company culture is a two-way street. Your business’s success doesn't come from processes alone, it comes from your biggest asset—your people. And culture is the secret sauce that keeps them together. So, here’s what’s in it for you. 

Employee Engagement and Retention
A positive company culture fosters employee engagement, making employees feel valued, motivated, and committed to their work. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the company where they feel a sense of connection and camaraderie, reducing turnover costs and ensuring continuity in productivity and institutional knowledge.

Increased Productivity
A culture that promotes collaboration, open communication, and mutual respect creates an environment where employees are more productive. When employees feel supported and comfortable expressing ideas or concerns, they are better equipped to contribute their best work.

Innovation and Creativity
A healthy company culture encourages innovation and creativity by providing a safe space for employees to experiment, take risks, and think outside the box. When employees feel empowered to share ideas without fear of criticism, it can lead to breakthrough innovations and competitive advantages for the company.

Stronger Teamwork and Collaboration
When employees trust and respect each other, they are more willing to collaborate, share knowledge, and leverage each other's strengths to achieve common goals. Promoting a positive culture fosters strong relationships among employees, leading to better teamwork and collaboration. 

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Employees who are happy and engaged are more likely to deliver exceptional customer experiences, leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.A company culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction and service excellence can directly impact business outcomes by driving customer loyalty and repeat business.

Adaptability and Resilience
In today's fast-paced business environment, adaptability and resilience are crucial for success. A healthy culture that promotes flexibility, agility, and a growth mindset enables the organization to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, emerging trends, and unexpected challenges.

Attracting Top Talent
Make a healthy company culture your competitive advantage. It can be a powerful recruitment tool, helping to attract top talent to the organization. When a company is known for its strong culture, talented professionals are more likely to seek out employment opportunities there, enhancing the organization's ability to hire and retain top performers.

 

Intentional Company Culture

A deliberate company culture doesn’t happen by accident. You need a well-developed framework of values and habits that is purposefully driven by your employees’ priorities—not just those of your organization.  If you want to intentionally influence positive changes, here’s how to start.

  • Increase employee engagement by providing them with the tools they need and setting clear, achievable goals. How you can do it: Initiate quarterly surveys to give your employees a voice and provide you with an overview of their engagement levels.
  • Encourage open dialogue and feedback by checking in often and making yourself available. How you can do it: Commit at least one hour per week for informal get-togethers with employees on all levels to share ideas, initiatives and raise concerns.
  • Invest in employee development programs with lifelong learning opportunities and clear career progression plans. How you can do it: Host monthly/yearly mentoring programs, offer job shadowing with co-workers, budget for seminars, lunch and learns and online courses.
  • Prioritize work-life balance. How you can do it: Offer flexible scheduling and work-from-home, focus on productivity rather than hours, and encourage employees to use their PTO.
  • Celebrate employee accomplishments and milestones as they happen. How you can do it: Congratulate your employees with a handwritten letter, publicly announce achievements through company social media, intranet, and email, or host an informal monthly recognition ceremony (in person or virtually).  

 

Tap Into Your Advisory Board’s Experience

When you think about building or refreshing your company’s culture, don’t forget to take advantage of a built-in resource that can help create a strong roadmap to success. An Advisory Board. Here’s how they can provide immense value.

Objective Insight: One of the primary functions of an advisory board is to provide objective perspectives on various aspects of the business. When it comes to company culture, their unbiased viewpoints can help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By offering constructive feedback and suggestions, advisory board members can guide the leadership team in aligning the company's values, mission, and behaviors with its overarching goals.

Drawing from Experience: Advisory board members bring a wealth of practical experience to the table. Their "been there, done that" mentality means they have faced similar challenges and triumphs throughout their careers. By sharing their past experiences—both successes and failures—they can offer invaluable lessons on what works and what doesn't when it comes to shaping company culture. This firsthand knowledge allows leaders to avoid common pitfalls and adopt best practices, thus fostering a more conducive environment for growth and success.

Guiding Strategic Decision-Making: Building the right culture requires strategic vision and alignment with company objectives. Advisory board members, with their business acumen and industry expertise, can provide invaluable guidance by participating in discussions around goal-setting, resource allocation, and organizational structure to help ensure that company culture remains a central focus in all decision-making processes. This proactive approach helps create a culture that is not only aligned with the company's mission but also adaptive to changing market dynamics and emerging trends.

Mentoring and Coaching: A key benefit of having seasoned professionals on an advisory board is the opportunity for mentoring and coaching. Their "know how to do it better this time" mindset means they are eager to share their knowledge, skills, and insights with the next generation of leaders. By serving as mentors to the executive team, advisory board members can help cultivate leadership qualities that are essential for nurturing a positive company culture. Through regular interactions, coaching sessions, and mentorship programs, they empower leaders to embody the values and behaviors that drive cultural excellence.

 

A solid company culture starts at the top. You have the ability to help it thread its way through the organization by adopting these values and personally exemplifying them. When you believe in your company’s mission and values, you’ll start a chain reaction that will motivate your entire company.

Want to stay up to date on noteworthy news, advice, and insights relevant to CEOs and their advisory boards? Sign up for our Newsletter.