Forbes Agency Council member, Jason Kulpa, is the author of recent Forbes article: “Company Culture is a Mirror– Here’s What Yours Should Reflect.”
Company culture has become something of a buzzword recently as leaders try to identify the components of an ideal working environment. Yet, when you attempt to describe what company culture is, you realize how difficult it is to define. How a company establishes a strong culture may vary across the business world, but one thing should always be true: Culture must always benefit both employees and the company.
So, what are its other components then? It isn’t just open-office layouts, unlimited work-from-home days or having a ping pong table in the lounge. Think of company culture as your brand — the culmination of your identity and your values. A company’s founders and leaders are primarily responsible for forging their culture, but it’s something that will eventually take on a life and personality of its own. Everything from the employees you hire, the design of your office, the standard of communication to the way you provide feedback are all factors that form your culture.
If you have a strong culture, it will be evident in the functionality of your company. Are high-caliber employees drawn to your company? Do they stay long before moving on to their next venture? Is the productivity of your team consistently improving your bottom line? These questions can be telling of the culture you’ve managed to build — a litmus test for what’s working and what’s not.
A recent report by Hired found that 45% of job seekers look at culture as the No. 1 deciding factor before accepting a job offer. And Harvard Business School professor emeritus, Howard H. Stevenson, says “Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.”
Company culture is not only a reflection of your business, but it’s also a reflection of you as a leader. Executives who ignore the impact of workplace environment often lead with a heavy hand — the “my way or the highway” management approach we know has severe, irreversible consequences. At my company, setting the business up for success means first taking care of our employees. If they aren’t satisfied, the value they once saw in their work will no longer be sustainable — they’ll eventually lose interest in our mission, which means their work will suffer and, ultimately, so will our clients.