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What Does Good Company Culture Really Mean?

Short answer: the difference between retaining your top employees and driving them away.

Long answer: company culture is the culmination of all the decisions leaders in your business make day-to-day (and especially during onboarding) that embody the company’s values.

Earlier this year, Forbes dubbed 2022 the year of company culture — and our recent applicant study, The Great Reassessment, only solidified that assertion. We asked over 6,000 job seekers how they define a great company culture and they had plenty of advice to give companies seeking to better understand how to cultivate a cohesive culture. In fact, a little more than 25%  of applicants said they would stay at their current position over a higher paying one if the company culture was better. Highlights include:

“I would define great company culture as a team who works well together, is able to settle conflict, encourages one another, all individuals are trustworthy, and have a drive toward the same common goal.”

“Positive, uplifting work environment. Focusing on what can be improved, not what is wrong. Nurturing environment where the senior staff helps develop the junior staff.”

“A company’s culture is essentially its core values, traditions, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs shared within its workforce.”

“Everyone is on the same page. From executive management down to the janitor. People are treated the same no matter what your level is, and there is no favoritism. Nowadays, favoritism is incredible in the corporate world. If you’re not cool or friends with your supervisor/manager, you are left out of the loop a lot and get overlooked for things to help you succeed.”

Now, that’s a lot to consider — so we’re breaking it down into four key points that can help you build the best company culture possible at your organization.

Onboarding

The best time to make the best impression of your company’s culture is during onboarding. Since you’re already presenting your newest hire with all of the necessary information to perform their job duties, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to your company culture via items they can interact with — and find useful — every day and candid conversations with key people on your leadership team. 

If you don’t already, consider gifting an onboarding box to new employees with items they can either use during their job functions or wear; think coffee cups with your business logo on them, shirts, sweatshirts, notebooks, etc. — the possibilities are endless! To hone in on how your work culture communicates, set up a new hire luncheon where your newest employees are invited to interact candidly with your CEO or owner; this experience, if done right, will allow your new hires to get a feel for how communication flows in your workplace.

Focus on values

Values are the morals and beliefs that back your company’s decision-making processes. If your values are merely listed and your company doesn’t attempt to embody them every day, then you’re not capitalizing on this aspect of a company culture well enough. 

Values should already be an integral part of working at your business — but it can be difficult to put the ways that you incorporate them into words. We suggest taking stock of what your current values are and making sure that your company is still aligned with them. From there, consider ways to reemphasize them to your staff, whether that’s having them shout out the different ones at a certain point during staff meetings or recognizing employees who personified those values weekly.

Also, it’s important to remember your company values during interviews because you want to hire people who share those sentiments themselves — especially when it comes to leadership staff. 

Practice what you preach

Tying into values, your business needs to make sure that your management team actually personifies the beliefs and morals that your business supports. This goes beyond adequately performing their job duties; it also includes integrity, whether that’s a clearly defined value at your business or not.  

Integrity is what you do when no one is looking — which can be especially impactful if your supervisors aren’t setting the best example for your other staff. Your leadership team needs to practice what your core values preach, otherwise it might all feel like a farce to existing employees and anyone else you bring onto your team.

When employees can see the disconnect between what should be done and what is actually happening, that’s when cracks in your company culture start forming, dividing your employees amongst themselves. Avoid this fracturing by making sure that not only are your core values aligned with how your business operates, but that your leadership team embodies them as well.

Favoritism is not appropriate

This shouldn’t have to be said, but unfortunately it needs to be repeated: favoritism is not appropriate in the workplace. While no two employees are equal, it is unethical to treat them differently based on their performances. 

Playing favorites looks differently in different industries. Here’s a few examples:

  • Hospitality: One front desk clerk getting the majority of shifts for a week over a tenured employee because their friend, the food and beverage manager, put in a good word for them to get hired.
  • Automotive: One technician only accepts two to three easy assignments a day, leaving their coworkers to carry the burden of keeping the flow of the bay. A seasoned sales representative steals a sale from a newer employee because they asked a simple question for clarification.
  • Healthcare: A tenured CNA refuses to perform some of their job duties, like helping with going to the bathroom or cleaning up afterwards and makes newer employees do these duties for them. A RN takes her pick of the newest batch of fresh graduates and thinks they can do no wrong; the other new hires, on the other hand, bear the brunt of any misgivings or doings from this RN.

Favoritism is usually rooted in unconscious biases that each of us must work hard to overcome. Take the time to train your employees on how to avoid favoritism and fight any injustices that may be happening in your workplace. When favoritism blossoms, retention rates will plummet and it will be hard to find employees who will tolerate a work culture that only benefits a few.

Points to remember

Your company culture determines whether your employees stay or leave; it embodies everything from your branding to physical items that your employees interact with, along with what is said and how it is said, and the core values your business seeks to embody. One of the best ways to communicate your company culture is to consciously incorporate it into your onboarding practices. 

Want to see a great company culture in action? Check out our Mental Health Awareness Month Wrap Up or People First: Hireology Rewards Stand Out Employees with President’s Club to see how we prioritize our culture here at Hireology.

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