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Great Business Culture

A company with no culture is a like a body with no soul. The workplace culture of any good company influences major areas (which can translate to significant profits) such as reputation and hiring success, productivity, employee retention, work-life balance of employees and positivity in general.

On a global scale, culture influences the food we eat, the languages we speak, and the social norms that are expected. On the business front, the culture of a company can speak volumes to its vision, mission, values, and ideals.

Forbes definition of workplace culture:

“The shared values, belief systems, attitudes, and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share.”

Why is workplace culture important?

We started Express Employment Professionals in 1983. In total, we have more than 600,000 associates in South Africa, Canada and the US. Despite international nuances, we find all employees want to feel connected to their colleagues and to the company’s mission and core values. Said another way, employees want a positive culture. And it seems like many companies, like Express, want that as well. In fact, research by Deloitte shows 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to business success.

What is it about a positive culture that allows for both employees and the businesses they work for to thrive? Here are two of the most important side effects of a healthy workplace culture.

1. It attracts and retains employees.

A positive workplace culture is one that is built on trusted leaders, mission-driven (or results-oriented) work, open communication, and core values. And lucky for employers who have one, once an employee is embraced by a strong workplace culture like this, they don’t have many reasons to leave.

To attract top job candidates and retain them, organizations need to immerse new hires in this positive company culture that truly embodies their core values from day one. This helps employees to quickly start connecting with the overall business as well as their unique role within it.

That being said, reciting core values once during onboarding isn’t going to retain employees. The company’s leadership team has to continuously ‘walk the talk’ to promote a positive culture and receive employees’ best work.

2. It increases employee engagement.

A true positive workplace culture is one that shifts and evolves based on the different needs and attitudes of employees, as well as has mechanisms in place to solve problems that may lead to a toxic culture. With these mechanisms in place, employees are better able to engage in their work.

Consider ten areas that can have an enormous impact on workplace culture.

1. The leaders of the organization are committed to making it a great place to work.

A healthy culture is the key to creating a great place to work, but without the dedication of the organization’s leadership team, it is nearly impossible to build a sustainable positive work culture.

2. Trust in the leaders of the organization to set the right course.

Workplace culture starts at the top. Leaders who prioritize work-life balance, a positive attitude, and mutual respect with employees can actively encourage employees to feel empowered to do their best work.

3. Belief that the organization will be successful in the future.

Toxic workplace culture isn’t just bad for engagement, it’s also bad for business. Why? Because those two things go hand in hand. To prevent toxicity from seeping into a company, leaders should look at improving engagement and employee happiness as a way to ensure organizational success.

4. Understanding of how individuals fit into the organization’s future plans.

Workplace culture is all encompassing, but unless employees are aware of how their day-to-day work impacts the business, it can be hard to maintain engagement. Associates must understand how their daily contribution ‘moves the needle’ on a larger scale. All cogs in the wheel should be working together toward posted goals, objectives and milestones.

5. The leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource.

There are few things more powerful for employee engagement than appreciation. A healthy workplace culture with a foundation of recognition shows employees they are valued and has the power to lift employees to new heights.

6. The organization makes investments in its systems to be more successful.

Building workplace cultures on a foundation of continuous performance management and learning and development shows employees how valuable they are to the company, boosting job satisfaction and employee happiness. Called many things in the past (Commitment to Excellence, Total Quality Management…), employees need to know that processes/protocols are always being evaluated, refined and invested in for better outcomes.

7. The organization establishes a ‘FUN Committee’.

If you think this concept is old fashion, think again. Even Gen-X’ers want to enjoy a break via a well-organized and rewarding activity. At Express, events and activities have included Departmental Halloween Contests, Easter Eggs-travaganzas for employee families, Angle Tree campaigns at Christmas and ‘Name that Tune’ contests during the lunch hour.

8. The organization hires and empowers a Chaplain.

What a difference a qualified Chaplain can make in a company. Paul Nichols, who served at the United Auto Workers Union and lead an army of Chaplains over several decades, stated faithful encouragers are instrumental in counseling employees through career challenges, divorces, and loss of loved ones. At Express, we had a delightful lady who served in these capacities as well as organized the popular Prayer Breakfasts at our annual Leadership Conference serving 2,000 associates.

9. The organization is serious about Professional Development.

Gallup found employees who feel their organization provides avenues of Professional Development and encourages participation are further committed to the company and are grateful of their supervisors. Gallup also found employees who feel their organization encourages the building of developmental skills state their workplace experience is authentic, equitable, and fulfilling.

10. The organization recognizes its STARS and celebrates successes.

Having a culture that makes an employee feel secure and appreciated in their role can help prevent that. Gallup found when recognition is embedded in the organization’s culture, they are ​​5x as likely to see a path to grow at their organization. To put an exclamation point on Express’ commitment to this dynamic, our budget for the annual Leadership Conference (where we recognize and celebrate top Franchisees, Associates and Customers…) is $6.5M.

What words help describe a good workplace culture?

Something as far-reaching as culture can be hard to describe; every company has a different mission and set of core values that shape the norms in the workplace. There are, however, a number of words that are often used to describe positive cultures including the following words:

Challenging Friendly Engaging

Rewarding Collaborative Flexible

Supportive Exciting Caring

Family Professional Busy

Fast-paced Innovative Teamwork

Motivating Positive Comfortable

Integrity Collaborative Team-based

The Future?

I can say with six decades of company building that culture is a must-have ingredient for a successful company.

At every staff meeting, we touch on proactive cultural activities in addition to typical business elements including operations, finances, client count and franchising goals. It is paramount to correctly frame your company at the onset – this includes vision, mission, values and the targeted corporate culture. Whether you have five employees or 5,000, the company’s positive and authentic culture is critical for all the reasons explained above. If this area is foreign to you or the co-founders cannot seem to find common/strategic ground, consider hiring a business coach or consultant to help align interests and pencil out a formal plan with cultural aspirations as part of the mix.

Good Luck and God Bless!


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