We are living through a time when cohesion is one of our toughest challenges and greatest strengths. Without co-location, our organisations must work harder than ever to feel united and driven by the same purpose.
Culture provides organisations with a uniting force in challenging times. But an effective and intentional culture is often abstract and hard to consistently maintain.
How do we define culture?
Culture is what defines our organisations. But how do we define culture?
Culture is the collective norms, values and beliefs of an organisation. In short, it could be described as the ‘personality’ of an organisation – what separates it from other organisations in its character, vision and purpose.
Culture is different from what an organisation does, or how it appears on the outside. For example, a workplace may appear to be busy and formal, but those traits are not necessarily indicators of its culture. ‘Intentional Culture as a Competitive Advantage’, the latest report from Limeade, argues that the following characteristics of culture explain why that is the case. They also paint a complete picture of culture’s impact on businesses and employees.
The Characteristics of Culture
- Abstract: Culture is hard to pin down and difficult to describe
- Unconscious: Once you’re a part of culture, it’s hard to see
- Dynamic: Culture is always changing
- Relative: It’s not accurate to say that culture is absolutely good or bad — culture is only relatively “good or bad” based on the extent to which it is helping your company achieve its goals
- Powerful: Culture is powerful because it guides the behavior of your employees
Defining culture is crucial in understanding its value and purpose. But how do we measure the efficacy and impact of an organisation’s culture?
How do we measure the impact of culture?
As leaders and their teams better understand their company’s unique culture, they’re empowered to make it their competitive advantage. Measuring its impact helps leaders to understand the health of their organisation, the happiness of their employees and to what extent employees feel connected to the purpose of the organisation.
According to ‘Intentional Culture as a Competitive Advantage’, here are some of the ways that culture makes a tangible difference in a business’s success:
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- Culture drives behavior. During every hour of the workday, employees are guided by culture. So, it’s important for organisations to be intentional about what messages they send. Should their employees collaborate or compete? Should managers react quickly or create structure and plans? These are just examples of messages that get sent through culture and, depending on how they play out in your company, could be helping your business or holding it back.
- Culture creates an aligned organisation. Culture has the power to unite an entire workforce around common goals and values. It also sets behavioral expectations and helps new employees acclimate to a new work environment. To be authentic, remember that culture has to be experienced behind closed doors — not just displayed on your website or posted on your walls.
- Culture affects business performance. By aligning company culture with business objectives, both facets of the organisation will improve. Think about a hospital, for instance. If there is a pervasive culture of trust and care, nurses will provide better care to their patients. Culture helps organisations meet their most important goals. The following chart shows how care impacts metrics like revenue and stock price growth.
- Culture will be valued by your board. The National Associate of Corporate Directors (NACD) recommends that “The board, the CEO, and senior management need to establish clarity on the foundational elements of values and culture — where consistent behavior is expected across the entire organisation regardless of geography or operating unit — and develop concrete incentives, policies, and controls to support the desired culture.” Companies will need to start prioritizing culture work because boards will start demanding it.
- Culture is uniquely yours. Company culture sets your business apart from all others. It’s special to you and can become a recognizable feature for both talent and customers.
Cultures that care
Care can be the key differentiator between companies that retain their people and grow their business and those that stagnate.
Care influences people and business in powerful ways. When employees feel like their organisation cares for them, they show higher engagement, higher commitment, lower stress and a higher intention to stay.
This is where employees begin to love their employers and demonstrate mutual commitment. The Limeade Institute found that organisations have reported:
- A +32 Net Promoter Score when organisation does care
- 23% of employees intend to stay 3+ years when their org does not care
- A – 89 Net Promoter Score when organisation does not care
- 94% of employees say they are committed to their organisation when their org does care
- 76% of employees intend to stay
- 3+ years when their org does care 36% of employees say they are committed to their organisation when their org does not care
There are clear and powerful business results for organisations that show care and make it a core part of their culture. Achieving a culture that cares is possible with the right support and guidance.
To discover more about creating an intentional culture and the power of care in doing so, download Limeade’s latest report, ‘Intentional culture as a competitive advantage’. To find out more about Limeade, check out their website, or some of their recent insights on HRD Connect on the science of care, how to help employees to feel cared for in challenging times, and more.
Download ‘Intentional culture as a competitive advantage’ here.