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Work Culture Definition: What Does It Really Mean?

Your company’s work culture is one of the key drivers of its success. A good company culture results in more engaged, productive, and loyal employees. In one study, 78% of executives said that culture is among the top five things that make their company valuable— but 84% said they need to improve their work culture. What is the real work culture definition?

Perks and ping pong tables do not an office culture make. Instead, company culture is about the attitude and environment management creates and maintains. A positive work culture supports and encourages workers and protects employee well-being. In this post, we’ll cover work culture definition, benefits, and provide examples of companies with model work cultures.

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Work Culture Definition

The work culture definition is the attitudes and behaviors of employees within an organization. Many things influence the company culture, ranging from the work environment (ok, so ping pong tables don’t hurt), policies, leadership, goals, values, and mission.

A positive work culture doesn’t just happen. It takes thoughtfulness and careful cultivation. If you haven’t been thinking about your organization’s culture, chances are it isn’t where it needs to be. That can mean some major repercussions. A study in Sweden found that employees under “poor” leadership had a 25% higher incidence of heart problems. Physically and mentally stressed employees are not only less engaged. They’re also more like to call out of work and eventually leave the company, leading to sky-high absenteeism and turnover rates. This can cost organizations big.

Organizations with positive work environments conversely have more productive, loyal employees. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to nurture the employee experience. Promoting diversity, transparency, and understanding can do wonders for a business. Furthermore, visible and accessible leaders inspire employees and keep management in touch with day-to-day problems. This means higher retention, reduced absenteeism, and best of all, happier and healthier employees.

Why Work Culture is Important

How, exactly, will a strong work culture affect your bottom line? Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect to see if you invest in building a strong culture.

Improved Retention

We’ve already mentioned this, but let’s dig a little deeper. High turnover isn’t just bad for morale. A survey from SHRM showed that the average cost-per-hire is just over $4,000. If your turnover rate is high, your business is most likely spending thousands of extra dollars a year just to keep positions filled. And that number doesn’t even factor in the expertise and knowledge that departing employees take with them.

Healthy Development

A positive work culture encourages growth at the personal and organizational level. Employees will feel empowered to do their best work and pursue opportunities for professional growth.  Businesses can harness the expertise of long-standing workers who have stayed with the company and attract new talent with their positive atmosphere.

Increased Productivity

A positive company culture leads to happier employees who feel valued and supported. Happy employees aren’t just more pleasant to work with. According to Oxford University, happy employees are 13% more productive than their grumpy counterparts. And that’s not all! Satisfied workers will also serve as brand ambassadors when they talk about their positive work experience. That looks good to potential clients and future employees.

Financial Success

According to a long-term study, businesses with great work cultures saw an 682% growth in revenue over eleven years. Meanwhile, those without the right company culture only grew by 166%. The numbers are clear: businesses that create a positive environment are more likely to be successful.

Good Work Culture Examples 

It’s easy to talk the talk, but are you ready to walk the walk? Here are our top three companies with the best work cultures and what you can learn from them. This is how creating a thriving culture looks in the real world.

Twitter: Create a Sense of Purpose

Twitter has become famous for having employees who truly believe in their work. It’s not just the gimmicky stuff startups are known for like rooftop meetings, free lunches, and gym memberships. Studies show that these perks don’t matter to employees as much as positive workplace cultures do. Employees want to work for a company with a mission they believe in. Twitter has done a great job unifying workers toward a common goal. Twitter has also prioritized creating a diverse and inclusive environment, which is key to creating a good work culture.

Etsy: Support Individuals Personally and Professionally

Etsy, the online retail platform, encourages workers to be themselves from the moment they start work. New workers receive a $50 credit to decorate their office space and encouragement to perform a special talent at the next all-hands meeting. Etsy also provides benefits which support employee’s work-life balance, such as 26 weeks of parental leave to both new mothers and fathers. Employees can pursue professional development through Etsy’s learning and engagement program. Employees in this environment feel valued for who they are as much as what they can do.

Costco: Encourage Workforce Participation

Costco is well-known for having generous compensation and benefits in comparison with its competitors. For example, they offered their workers a $15 minimum wage in 2019. But they also create a culture which allows employees to speak up, offer suggestions, and take initiative. Having a good work culture means making employees feel heard, and Costco encourages employees to participate in decision-making processes.

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Tips for Creating a Great Work Culture

If your work culture still has some room for improvement, don’t worry. Here are our best tips on how to change work culture and create an environment employees feel excited about.

Establish clear values for the organization

To establish a strong work culture, make your vision clear. Express values clearly through a mission statement and reiterate these values through all communications. Most importantly, make sure that your business is taking action to represent these values in the world. Employees will be excited to contribute to an organization making a difference.

Encourage collaboration and communication

Employees will perform better under open and honest leadership. In short: transparency is key! Keep employees in the loop and make sure that they have opportunities to give feedback or offer suggestions. Check-in regularly with employees about expectations, goals, and performance. By communicating regularly, you can reduce misunderstandings and make sure problems are addressed as they arise.

Create a diverse and inclusive workplace

It is vital to cultivate a diverse workforce. This won’t just make your workforce more creative, innovative, and agile. It will also help create an open work culture that supports and nurtures all employees. Valuing individual differences gives employees the opportunity to leverage their unique skills and abilities. For example, use inclusive signage, stay alert for unconscious bias, and adjust your hiring practices to be more inclusive.

Empower employees

Provide employees with opportunities to further their careers and follow their interests. This can be done by implementing training programs. It can also happen through open discourse and regular communication about desires and aspirations. Celebrate successes! But when things don’t quite meet expectations, work with employees so that they can do better next time. Don’t blame or dwell. Work culture definition means supporting employees and helping them to build new skills.

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