A 2015 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that companies that value and prioritize a positive work culture experience significantly less employee turnover than organizations with a negative or weak company culture.
And in a study from Harvard Business Review, it was found that having a workforce of highly engaged, positive people not only increased productivity but also can significantly reduce costs associated with turnover.
As a business and career coach for women of color and allies, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact that workplace culture can have on employee satisfaction and performance. I’ve also seen the real implications of having an organization with a toxic work culture and environment.
I recall a work experience of my own when, years ago, I was an employee at an organization with an incredibly toxic work environment and a complete lack of positive workplace culture. I found myself being bullied at work–an unfortunate reality that resulted in me gaining 20 lbs and confronting burnout so terrible. I was also going through a breakup at the time, and went to therapy.
But negative workplace culture doesn’t have to be as horrible as bullying. A client of mine found herself in a position where she was expected to be on call 24/7, with no break or relief. The expectation to be constantly ‘on’ and awaiting calls from work led her to quit and to find a job that didn’t place such a strain on their employees.
Needless to say, prioritizing workplace culture as an organization and actively seeking it as a job seeker is absolutely essential for overall satisfaction and success.
Let’s get into why workplace culture is so important for business strategy, work-life balance, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.
What is Workplace Culture and Why Does It Matter?
Before diving into some of the major benefits of creating a positive workplace culture, let’s make sure to get on the same page as far as what workplace culture really is.
‘Company Culture’ has become such a buzzword in the last decade that most of us might think of it and immediately recall images we’ve seen of Google’s fresh food market and cafeteria, their free employee cooking classes, and even on-site gyms. And while those things surely can add to a positive workplace, we’re not just talking about cool employee perks.
Workplace culture refers to the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that shape the work environment. You can think of workplace culture as an organization’s unique personality that influences policies, practices, and the way employees engage and communicate with each other at work. A positive company culture tells employees that they are valued and will likely have a positive impact on the work they do. And for organizations, a strong workplace culture can even equate to stronger profit margins and productivity. Prioritizing a good workplace culture is a win-win for everybody.
Why Culture is Important for Business Strategy
On the business side of things, having a strong workplace culture and highly engaged employees does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to attracting and retaining customers and showcasing results for possible investors. Organizations that are well-known for their positive corporate culture have a leg up in outperforming competitors.
In my own business, I have a 70% customer conversion rate–because of the emphasis I put on a positive culture and community within my business. You may notice that I even showcase pictures of my clients and real stories on my website, Instagram, and LinkedIn instead of relying on ads to attract new clients. Additionally, I am constantly seeking feedback from my clients on what I can do to better serve them.
You can see the strategic benefit to adopting a strong workplace culture in organizations like Southwest Airlines which is known for its fun and friendly workplace personality which has helped it become one of the most successful airlines in the world!
A top challenge for many companies is to stand out from the crowd and to attract superior talent and developing a cohesive and positive culture can really help to tackle both of those challenges.
How Culture Impacts Work Life Balance
I’ve seen it in my own business and in so many of my coaching clients: work-life balance is key when it comes to keeping everyone motivated and happy. A positive workplace culture must create a supportive and flexible work environment, allowing employees and team members to manage and balance their personal and professional responsibilities.
I’m a huge proponent of reminding everyone to see their employees and team members first as human beings with complex lives and unique challenges and needs. For example, in my own team when emergencies come up – medical, family, mental, etc, and my clients are asking for time off or a delay in deadline I ensure they can be a human first. My team and I have systems in place to ensure that if a team member cannot finish a task, someone else can.
When it comes to women in the workplace, work-life balance is often overlooked and things like caretaking responsibilities, family needs, and health are supposed to take a constant backseat to work life.
When an organization’s culture allows for flexible work schedules, paid parental leave, and telecommuting options, employees and team members show up more positively and have an incentive to stick around, therefore reducing turnover costs for management. In a previous job I had prior to starting my business, I stayed longer than I ever had at a workplace due to the most incredible work culture. I had the best boss and team, my thoughts were taken seriously, and I received mentorship. In my business now, I ensure that self-care and personal responsibilities are able to be prioritized when needed and we have systems in place to ensure other team members can take care of any necessary tasks.
In creating organizations that value work-life balance, we can create a positive work environment that honors employee and team member well-being.
Employee Engagement, Increased Motivation, Productivity, and Fulfillment
A positive culture in the workplace increases employee engagement, leading to greater productivity, better customer service, and improved organizational performance.
The idea of maximizing productivity has too often become an obsession in corporations over the last few decades, with new ‘tools’ to help gauge employee engagement and outputs. What’s often overlooked is that culture impacts an employee’s ability and willingness to engage in their work meaningful.
A positive culture creates a sense of purpose, belonging, and fulfillment for employees, which can increase their motivation and engagement. While I mentioned that employee perks aren’t the entirety of what makes up culture, we can look at Google as an example of a workplace that is known for its innovative and collaborative spirit which encourages employees to share ideas and work together. Ideally, everyone has space to bring their unique insights and ideas to the table, which in turn drives team members to keep showing up with full effort. The whole organization wins when it starts with a positive employee experience.
When employees are fulfilled by their work, they don’t have as many reasons to search for other jobs. That prior great job experience I shared about? All of my coworkers who I worked with during my time there are still working there, 6 years later.
Attracting Top Tier Job Candidates
When you think of companies that don’t have to try very hard to get jobs filled, who comes to mind?
Patagonia is a great example of a company that has built such a strong employer brand that job seekers flock to them to apply for any open position. Their emphasis on being environmentally conscious and socially responsible appeals to top talent who value work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Personally, I have never had to post an open job for my business, because I’ve been able to simply attract the perfect candidates and team.
A strong workplace culture attracts strong job candidates. By promoting your unique organizational culture, you can attract job candidates who share your values and are excited to be a part of your team.
How to Build a Strong Workplace Culture
So, how can you build a strong workplace culture that attracts top talent, increases employee engagement, and improves organizational performance? While you need to dig deep to figure out what makes your business unique, here are some tips and strategies for best practices in getting there:
1. Define your organization’s values and mission.
Make sure that everyone in the organization understands and embodies these values and mission.
2. Create a supportive and inclusive work environment.
Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.
3. Offer professional development opportunities.
Invest in your employees’ growth and development to show that you value their careers.
4. Promote work-life balance.
Offer flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, and other benefits that support work-life balance.
5. Celebrate successes and recognize achievements.
Show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and celebrate their successes.
Building a strong and positive workplace culture takes time, it’s not a say it once and leave it kind of deal. It takes consistent reinforcement of ideals, values, and practices to solidify good ideas into a good reputation.
A good workplace culture is crucial for business success. It impacts everything from employee engagement and satisfaction to financial performance and customer loyalty.
Organizations that prioritize workplace culture are more likely to attract top talent, increase employee engagement and satisfaction, outperform their competitors financially and are generally more successful long-term. By promoting a positive workplace culture, you can create a supportive and inclusive work environment that values employee well-being, professional development, and work-life balance. So, let’s make sure to prioritize workplace culture in our organizations and create a happier, more productive workforce.
If you would like further support in your career, business, or leadership, my team and I would love to support you in creating a sustainable life! You can schedule a 30-minute legacy business or career review call with me to see if it’s a good fit to work together, and you’ll receive 3 action-items from me.