In many ways, a company's culture is really its only truly 'unique identifier'. Sure, you can have different USPs to your competitors and features that you believe make you stand out from the rest, but a strong culture which everyone agrees on and buys into can improve business performance dramatically.
So, what is a company culture?
Every organisation will have a company culture, but the question that employers and leaders within an organisation should be asking themselves is - Does our culture help us achieve our goals or does it hinder us?
Company cultures consist of values and shared beliefs which are usually established by the organisation's leaders and then communicated to the wider team. Now, here comes the important part... Communicating and reinforcing your message and values effectively is critical. An email or a team meeting won't be enough, it may work short-term but in a few days or weeks down the line, I guarantee people will have forgotten the key points, what the values actually mean and how they will help the business achieve their goals.
You need to reinforce your values and culture at all times, this may sound difficult but it really isn't. There are all sorts of ways in which you could achieve this:
- Print your values on merchandise - mugs, pens, or notebooks
- Invest in a few banners or posters which feature the values
- Have a dedicated "Values" area on your intranet or even make them public on your website
- Embed the values into your staff onboarding process
- Have managers and seniors quiz staff on the values when they're not expecting it - quite cruel, but both will see it as a bit of fun and they'll make sure to remember them going forward!
You obviously can’t force your staff to believe in your values but by setting expectations, leading by example and rewarding staff who embrace your values, over time you will build a team that works better together and will be more effective at helping your business to achieve its goals.
What are iHASCO's values and how do they help us achieve our goals?
Here at iHASCO we have 5 key values that we live and breathe by:
Value number 1: Make a genuine difference - We recognise that through the training we deliver, we have the chance to make a genuine difference to the lives of our clients and their employees. With over three million training sessions delivered to companies up and down the UK (and even internationally), we've helped prevent accidents and potentially even saved a few lives! How does this help us? Knowing this is hugely rewarding and gives us genuine reason to make what we do the best it can possibly be.
Value number 2: Have fun and look after each other - We understand that our staff spend a lot of time at work and as such, we want them to have fun whilst they're here. That doesn't mean less work gets done, our people understand the balance and we put on monthly team lunches and annual trips to make sure they know we appreciate everything they do. How does this help us? People that are happier at work are more productive. Simple!
Value number 3: Seek constant improvement - We're always striving for excellence at iHASCO and we don't rest on our laurels. If we did, then we wouldn't be able to improve on our outstanding levels of growth each year! How does this help us? Seeking constant improvement is in everyone's best interests. Staff always aim to improve their knowledge, become better at their job and ultimately help drive the company forward.
Value number 4: Make training simple - This is also our company tagline. We believe that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication and that the definition of genius is to take something complex and make it simple. This applies to every part of our product, our LMS, our courses, the way we interact with our clients and everything in between. Health & Safety and HR Compliance can already be a bit of a headache as it is, so why would we want to make our product unnecessarily complicated? How does this help us? Our clients receive a product they love because it simplifies their workplace training.
“If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.”
Value number 5: No fools, or as we like to say, no d*ckheads - Nobody wants to be around a fool for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week! Fools will have a negative effect on people and will most certainly hinder you from achieving your goals. How does this help us? No fools = a better working environment and a better morale amongst staff.
Think back to College or University when it comes to company culture…
When creating a successful company culture, we should think back to the days of College or University, both places where many of us can recall a lot of positive memories and - hopefully- successfully completing our qualifications.
Often, when students need to complete University work, they will more often than not find themselves studying in the University grounds - in the library, or a quiet study room, but why is this? Often, Universities try to create workspaces and creative environments which encourage students to complete assignments surrounded by people in the same situation. If employees have the flexibility to choose where they work from, you should be striving for them to want to work within the business building. If you create a positive and creative culture for your employees they will want to be surrounded by colleagues in the same position and (as we said before) people who are happier at work, are more likely to be more productive!
For voices to be heard you need various spaces for people to congregate and share ideas. Try to mix things up by changing where you have these meetings, it could be a cafe or restaurant, for example. Sometimes changing the environment can get rid of egos and office politics and allow for more greater learning and a better sharing of ideas. University students are all working towards the same goal and it is important for them (like you) to learn and share.
Having a workplace energy that allows colleagues to thrive and collaborate means that they are aware of all having a similar end goal but are able to separate themselves and focus on the job that needs to be done in order to reach this goal. When looking at University students for this example, the contagious energy that they have for their new independent lives is infectious but also in their interests with regards to their degrees, allowing them to thrive off each other and all work towards the same goal. The best example of a collaborative workplace is Google, known as ‘one of the best places to work’ for their focus on fun and happiness.
So, why is it so important and what are the benefits?
A strong company culture leads to more ongoing involvement and extra participation from employees, not to mention the positive effects it has on motivation levels.
Just some of the benefits a strong company culture can bring to a business include:
- A clear and shared vision between everyone in the company, this creates common goals.
- Better communication and collaboration between departments.
- A reduced employee turnover rate.
- Less internal politics via an easier decision-making process - does it conform to our values?
- More respect and mutual trust amongst employees.
Remember: A company culture is critical to longer-term success and every organisation should have one, but going that one step further and creating a culture which actually contributes to achieving business goals is vital.