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Cultivation of company’s culture essential for united workforce

It pays to spend time developing real values to support an aspirational company culture

It’s often assumed a company’s culture is something that evolves naturally, and is influenced mainly by the country in which it is based, the type of industry it is involved in and the people that work in it.

Maybe that is what companies would like you to think, but the reality is that companies take their cultures very seriously and aim to actively manage and cultivate them.

"Building a company's culture is extremely important when creating a united and engaged workforce," says Derek Irvine, vice-president of client strategy and consulting at HR software firm Globoforce.

“Indeed, it’s vital that the right values are embedded into the company culture and then understood in the same way by all employees regardless of position, division, geographic location, or tenure with the company.”


Most important asset

But investing in developing a healthy company culture is also something that can deliver a return through improved recruitment, stronger client relationships, resilient employees and sustained revenue. In other words, something as simple as employee pride in their workplace can have a huge impact on the company’s profits.

"As all companies need to be carefully managed from the perspective of the business, so too does the culture," says Michelle Lock of pharmaceutical firm Bristol Myers Squibb.

“At the centre of any company’s culture are the people who work within the company; the people are the most important asset any company has. People, and hence cultures, need to be carefully and respectfully managed.

“When a company has a very strong corporate vision, for example, to be focused on bringing the best medicines to patients, this helps create a common point from which a culture continues to evolve.”

John Ryan, chief executive of Great Place to Work, says it pays to spend time developing real values to support an aspirational company culture.

“Don’t hire a PR company to create values that simply look good hanging on the wall at your reception, or on a banner ad on your website.

“In the world of social media, inconsistencies between proclaimed values and real values will become public knowledge very quickly. You need to be authentic, and involve the whole organisation to create values that they believe in.”

However, if the company is well managed in the first place, would it not make more sense to let its culture evolve naturally rather than actively “managing” it and, in doing so, make that culture more authentic rather than forced or imposed from the top down?

Irvine believes a healthy company culture strongly depends on having all employees understand the corporate values and attitudes.

“The risk of having a culture that evolves naturally and without consistency is having employees act as individuals, performing their duties to meet their own needs, as opposed to working as a team to meet the company’s as well as their own personal needs.

“Creating this bond between employees and the company has a significant impact on motivation and productivity in the workplace.”

Goals and values

One of the best tools for achieving this, he says, is through social recognition or employee reward programmes, which are about allowing employees to “recognise one another for work that deserves to be noticed and means that employees don’t have to wait for a manager or an annual review to have their contributions praised. This drives company culture when the programme is linked to the organisation’s goals and values – when all employees are encouraged to recognise efforts that reflect the company’s goals, they become intrinsic as everyone strives to achieve recognition based on the wider mission.”

Ryan adds that leaders should be “prepared to part ways with those who don’t agree with or support the new culture” but, at the same time, watch for any inconsistencies.

“If you espouse teamwork and all your performance bonuses are based on in- dividual performance, change them fast to reflect your new values.”