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The term ‘workplace culture’ is commonly used as a point of difference between businesses looking to attract high-calibre employees to work for them, but what does it mean and does it really matter to small businesses?

In basic terms, workplace culture can be defined as the ‘way we do things around here’. It generally impacts every aspect of how things get done at work, how decisions are made, how problems are solved and how to create, innovate and work together to make the business successful.

Findings from a Deloitte study on culture in the workplace showed that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believed a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. Furthermore, 83% of executives and 84% of employees ranked ‘having engaged and motivated employees’ as the top factor that substantially contributed to a company’s success.

You are most likely already aware that some of the world’s top companies such as Google, Apple or Facebook attribute a great part of their success to their workplace culture, driving high performance amongst employees. Notably, Google – who took out the top spot in Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For in 2014 – create a workplace culture for their employees which goes beyond what is expected, making Google a great place to work.

Investing the time into developing a culture that employees value will have a significant impact on any business. Past research has shown numerous times that having a great workplace culture:

  • Attracts the best talent and promotes employee retention – a recent study featuring Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For shows that a great workplace significantly reduces staff turnover and attracts better quality job applicants.
  • Strengthens the company’s brand – according to the 2012 Social Workplace Trust Study, employees in high trust environments are 3 times more likely to talk positively about their workplace on social media, and are 2 times more likely to express pride in their organisations.
  • Impacts employee happiness and satisfaction.
  • Greatly affects performance – if a business is built with a strong culture, it is more likely to outperform competitors.

To help get you started in creating a great workplace culture for your business, we’ve created a short, step-by-step guide which small businesses can follow:

Step 1: What kind of workplace culture do you envision? It’s very important for you to know what your employees want in a workplace. Start a brainstorming session with your staff members by considering your company visions and long term goals and what culture will help you achieve them, seeking input from employees.

Step 2: Plot your ideas and start setting up the things that will reinforce your shared values to work consistently. Communication is particularly important, as you don’t want your staff to forget your values before they make a difference.

Step 3: Hire those who fit into your culture. Remember, a skill is something that can be taught, culture is not. To assess cultural fit, establish an intangible standard for hiring that reflects on your core values. Consider how you can assess those attitudes in the interview process, with techniques like behavioural tests, and a second, more informal cultural-fit interview.

Step 4: Let your employees embrace and apply the culture. If you have already established a strong culture, think about how you can lift it and make it even more visible for employees. To keep culture top-of-mind, consider setting up a ‘culture committee’, where a range of different people from different functions can get together to brainstorm and implement new ideas.

Remember, this will always be a work in progress so you need to ensure you workplace culture aligns and supports your business strategy and is something you are constantly working on. By taking the time to grow and nurture a great workplace, your business will experience benefits in recruitment and retention, making it far easier to attract and retain top quality staff.

About the Author:

Paula Maidens is Managing Director of Recruitment Coach, a unique HR coaching and consulting firm for small-medium businesses.

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Paula Maidens

Paula Maidens

Paula Maidens is Managing Director of <a href="http://www.recruitmentcoach.com.au/">Recruitment Coach,</a> a unique HR coaching and consulting firm for small-medium businesses.

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