September 23, 2020
Culture as a concept is a little abstract, overused, and frankly can be just another buzzword you use to attract talent. When we talk about creating a culture for our business there’s a lot of things that can mean, and a lot of things it doesn’t.
It’s important when you’re communicating and demonstrating your business’ culture that you’re clear on who you AREN’T and what it ISN’T as much as what it IS.
We’re sharing five culture myths that tend to muddy the power of company culture. As your office space becomes more about a palace for creativity, connection, and building a great culture, these five will help give you guardrails.
Ping pong tables and happy hours are great, so are great benefits packages and competitive pay. But culture is not simply defined by everything you can give your team. Culture is about respect and dignity as much as it is about having a cool place for people to work.
There are so many other positive attributes a company can represent: innovation, quality, service, authenticity, and value among them. Your company’s culture must be meaningful because it will inform everything people do for it each day. Consider how you’re aligning the pay, perks, and messaging with your core values, mission, and purpose.
Open office space defined the last decade, but COVID precautions and research is showing that it may not be the right setup to encourage a culture of collaboration. Researchers have found that open offices actually accomplish the opposite. Participants spent 72 percent less time interacting and spent more time emailing each other. Additionally, an open office hinders productivity. It also creates stress and causes a higher rate of absenteeism.
If this is true, there’s a lot of potential left on the table for your business. Zappos is a good example here. They’ve tied their culture of “people first” to their business model in a way that’s made their company a leading example of customer service in online retail.
If your culture is vague, all about fun, or only mentioned at your annual holiday party as a rallying cry, then there’s opportunity available to you. Culture can be strategically tied to the actions your people perform daily and shape the way you compete in your market.
Business consultant Susan LaMotte observed, “the one thing most CEOs get wrong is forgetting to operationalize it. Culture isn’t just a set of core values on the wall–it’s a set of consistent behaviors. You have to be clear what those values look like in practice (we call them work rules) so current and future employees see culture in action and understand how works gets done in the company and align the company to them.”
Gym memberships, catered lunches, and cool swag might cost you something, so do those trendy perks and benefits. But remember, those are bonuses. They are not the culture. The culture is your core belief system. It’s the way your people are shown they are valued and respected. That might look more like opening channels of communication, providing clarity around goals, or helping team members gain the right tools to do their job better and faster.
Data suggests too that better morale leads to higher retention rates, while employee “churn” often results in higher expenses and production gaps.”
Culture isn’t frivolous, it’s mostly determined by consistent behaviors and non-material value.
Think about new team members coming on in the last six months. How would they experience your culture differently as a remote employee compared to the people on the team who have been in the office together for months or years?
Remote work can increase your team’s output, but therein lies a shift in your culture that may be counter to what you truly value.
Writer and tech start-up founder Andy Thomas said to Inc. Magazine,
“The interesting thing about company culture is that it will create itself if you don’t create it first. CEOs need to define and personify the company culture and instill it at every level of the organization. The best companies all have a culture based on their mission, and all employees know why they’re working so hard.”
In a panel discussion with Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan one technology official remarked, “ “There is a recognition (that for) creative aspects, human-to-human interactions are important,” Mr Lew said, adding that technology is still not at the level where it can provide “more high-touch ability to interact, to do these elements.”
This was also backed by Yuan as he stated he believes that technology has paved the way for company cultures to embrace employee flexibility, but fully remote work is not the next step.