When care is at the center of organizational culture, employees notice a difference. A caring culture can help employees feel supported, valued, trusted, listened to and more. And organizations who are leaning in and caring for employees as people will see that it’s not only the right thing to do during times of crisis, but that it’s better for business moving forward.
Our new guide, “Intentional Culture as a Competitive Advantage” explores exactly what company culture is and how it can be a competitive advantage for any business in any market. You’ll also discover why company cultures that prioritize care statistically achieve better business results. Plus, you’ll get research-backed tips to improve your culture in ways that align with your company’s values and objectives.
Culture is the collective values, norms and beliefs of an organization. And it’s often said that culture is like an organization’s “personality.” It’s not always easy to see, but culture creates an aligned organization and affects business performance.
There are many characteristics of culture that impact businesses and employees:
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
The following word pairs describe potential elements in a company’s culture. This list is not exhaustive, but it provides tangible examples to consider.
Measuring the Impact of Culture
As leaders and workers better understand their company’s unique culture, they’re empowered to make it their competitive advantage. Consider the following ways that culture makes a tangible difference in a business’s success.
1. Culture drives behavior
During every hour of the workday, employees are guided by culture. So, it’s important for organizations 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.
2. Culture creates an aligned organization
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.
3. Culture affects business performance
By aligning company culture with business objectives, both facets of the organization 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 organizations meet their most important goals.
4. 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 organization 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.
5. 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
As you consider your company’s culture, remember that care influences people and business in powerful ways. When employees feel like their organization cares, they have 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.
Creating an intentional culture is totally possible. Start by understanding your business objectives, then follow the intentional culture circle. Use resources and technology to bring your vision to life at scale.
Amid the “Great Resignation,” job openings are surging to an all-time high — and a lack of employee care is a major culprit. Discover best practices to promote employee well-being and support retention.
Laurie Ruettimann, career adviser and author of Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career, teamed up with Limeade to share her list of 10 Books to Help Employees Take Control of Their Careers, plus tips for being an effective leader in the age of hybrid work.