Company culture is an elusive thing – some of the smallest SMEs find it hard to cultivate a great culture, while corporate giants like Google have, arguably, managed to get it right.
It’s less to do with reward and recognition boards and staff away days, and more to do with a unified mission and shared values. Creating a company culture which is shared by every employee should not be taxing, yet some companies still get it wrong, which has the potential to harm their growth.
Before we dive into how culture can hinder your business growth and how you can take steps to ensure good culture, let’s take a look at what exactly company culture is.
The influential management book ‘In Search of Excellence’ outlined eight common themes that all successful corporations share – these came to be known as the building blocks of organisational culture.
The themes are -
And almost all company cultures will comprise of varying degrees of these eight principles.
But no matter your dominant organisational themes, the fact remains that ‘good’ company culture equals success. A Deloitte study found ₁ that 83% of executives rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success.
Get your company culture right and success will follow – but is this easier said than done?
Growing Culture in Your SME
SMEs account for over 99% of all businesses in the UK, and with company culture harder to get right in smaller and growing organisations, this creates a problem for many companies. Managers are stretched for time - they don’t have a spare eye to keep watch on how their company culture is developing.
Culture, as HBR states ₂, is harder to pin down than say, strategy, as it is anchored in ‘unspoken behaviours, mindsets, and social patterns’.
In a growing SME, it is easy to focus on the bottom line, as results drive the business forward. But research shows that companies who focus solely on profit, rate poorly in company culture rankings, and are more likely to lose good employees as a result.
But failure to embed company culture in your growing SME will lead to problems down the line – unmotivated staff who don’t feel appreciated, a feeling of dissatisfaction among employees, high turnover, a lack of shared values and consequently high disengagement.
Whether small business or global giant, any business wishing to acheive long-term success needs to invest in company culture. And its worth remembering that however big you grow – you can still have an excellent company culture. Google, who had over 100,000 employees at the last count, are famous for being company culture trailblazers with a focus on developing cultural strengths, supporting innovation and personalised leadership support.
A ‘bad’ company culture will ensure your best employees don’t stay with you very long, which will impact your success.
Examples of poor company culture range from poor management and expected long hours and unpaid overtime at the lower end, to bullying and sexual harassment on the more extreme side.
Another example of poor company culture, which goes unnoticed much more than harassment and poor management style, is an unwillingness or a lack of realisation that the company needs to evolve and adapt to the current employment landscape. Adapting to the requirements for a diverse and inclusive workplace is paramount to achieving a happy workforce and success for your business.
Organisations who have the least diverse workforces, be that in age, sex, race or backgrounds, are not only universally regarded as having a weaker company culture, but also have lower levels of innovation, productivity and staff retention.
So, what are the tried and tested ways of developing great company culture?
How to Create a Company Culture that Will Enable Your Business Grow
Leadership experts all heed the same warning – that it is much harder to change a poor company culture once it is ingrained than it is to build a great one from scratch.
So, how can organisations manage their company culture so that it impacts positively, not negatively on their growth?
Audit your current culture – You can do this internally (via surveys and questionnaires) or there are companies such as greatplacetowork.com ₃ who will come in and spend around 160 hours auditing your culture.
If you don’t have a diversity and inclusion message in your company mission – now is the time to include one. Diverse companies are 19% more productive ₄. This means adhering to government laws surrounding equal opportunity employment but also making noteworthy the fact that your culture supports and encourages applications from people of all ages, backgrounds and genders to feel equally valued and important – also a zero-tolerance bullying policy to stop harassment.
Culture and leadership are inherently linked - get the leadership right and the culture will follow. A lot of big companies such as British Airways and Credit Suisse have trained psychologists to create ‘competency models’ to help develop their leaders. The models focus on the leaders’ emotional intelligence, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Be more aware of company culture during times of merger or fast growth – a company culture cultivated over years can be destroyed in a short time if the principles outlined in my first paragraph become compromised. For example, a smaller company who values caring and purpose will become disconnected if the goal quickly shifts to results and learning.
Once you have your ideal company culture goals in place, its critical to ensure the ethos is embraced by all employees from the board to temporary staff. Maintaining good company culture requires everyone to be on board.
Implemented and managed successfully, an enviable company culture will reap dividends for you as you see higher staff engagement, company loyalty and innovation flourish.
If you are building a team and need help in finding candidates who are a great fit for your company culture, get in touch with us today and discover how we can help.
Martin Veasey Talent Solutions has been recruiting teams for 35 years, and our in-depth process means that we are experts at matching the right candidates to the right roles.
About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions
At Martin Veasey, we have been working with blue-chip and SME businesses for over 35 years, both in the UK and around the world.
We are an independent consultancy company with highly qualified staff, including many degree and Masters educated consultants, with memberships of professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the British Psychological Society.
We have unique expertise in hiring for senior roles in Board & Senior, Supply Chain & Logistics, Purchasing & Procurement, Manufacturing & Engineering, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, Sales, Human Resources, plus many more.
If you are looking to work with a highly accomplished recruiting partner, you can call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact today.