Company culture, at its core, is the personality of an organization. It sets the tone of the environment for workers, spills into products and services and can greatly impact success.
Facets include, the vibe of the space, the approach to work i.e. team-based v. silo and includes the overall communication structure and hierarchy plus perks such as lunch, snacks, or the occasional keg-o-rator alongside common values, ethics and goals.
Fixation on company culture:
Some companies such as Google, Zappos and Amazon are famous for their almost cult-like employee following and Amazon in particular basis its rigorous interview process largely on personality fit with their leadership principles. In fact, Jeff Bezos wrote in his 1998 letter to shareholders:
“It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people… Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com’s success.”
In a 2014 interview, Tony Hseih, Zappos CEO, admitted that hiring mistakes cost them over $100 million. This included hiring the wrong people and then dragging feet to let them go. He cautioned entrepreneurs to beware and follow the practice they finally adopted – slow to hire, quick to fire.
Why company culture matters:
When you’re an employee, especially one working onsite, the math seems obvious. Let’s just say the average American works 9 hours a day. That’s more than a third of their lives spent in the workplace. Wouldn’t you be happier in a fun, productive, flexible culture filled with likeminded people? And if you’re the managers or owners of a company wouldn’t you think happy employees are more productive? If you said “yes,” you’re right and research backs it up; culture can account for a 20 – 30% differential in performance.
Five components of great company culture
- Vision: Every team can benefit from a motto summarizing why they’re there and what the organization is working towards. Think of it as a 50,000-foot view for employees.
- Values: Like Amazon’s leadership principals, great company cultures start with clearly defined values that are then used as the backbone for every decision made.
- Practice: Values go hand in hand with practice. It’s not good enough to say “everyone is a leader” or “customer service is #1,” the team has to live those values on a daily basis so outsiders see the alignment between words and action.
- People: Going back to Amazon and Zappos – it’s clear to see the people are at the heart of the sentiments. People buy from people and we make associations (good or bad) to the people within your company. In addition, co-work ability, mood and personality are infections making hiring one of the most important aspects of company culture.
- Environment: from open workspaces to cubicle-land, place, lighting, temperature, colors, noise, inside and out play a large role in company culture. For example, shared spaces facilitate collaboration.
Company Culture is a big factor in talent acquisition. People want to be happy and they look for the culture that will serve them. Job seeking apps contribute to spotlighting culture by offering reviews from verified former employees to inform job seekers what to expect culture wise before they apply. If you haven’t yet analyzed your company culture, it might be time!