It’s no accident that companies with the highest-rated work cultures are also among the most successful companies. And, as your company grows, your work culture plays an increasingly important role in your future and success.

What is company culture?

Think of your work culture as the shared beliefs, standards, and values, as well as how things get done, within an organization. Culture is created through goals, structure, customers, strategy, and communication. It’s reinforced by both what you see and do, things you are aware of, and habits and behaviors based on reward systems and organizational beliefs – things you may not be aware of.

Understand your work culture by thoughtfully answering a few simple questions:

  • Who gets promoted and why? Who leaves the company (and why)?
  • What types of behavior are rewarded or avoided?
  • What’s really important to the company? What’s stated and shared more than once in presentations, meetings, etc.?
  • How would you describe this company in five or fewer words?

Take a look at a few companies you know well and ask yourself the above questions. Does the bare bones assessment ring true?

So, what does it mean for your company to have a good work culture? Entrepreneurs often ask this question. But remember, entrepreneurs don’t think like employees, or they’d still be one.

The benefits of a strong and positive work culture are well-documented:

  1. Less stress. A positive environment that is both safe and supportive results in a less-stressed employee. Employees are more eager to get to work and to be at work when they are happy.
  2. Less absenteeism. A pleasant and enjoyable workplace results in fewer people calling sick. Sick employees are getting paid without providing any value on that day. How many times have you called in sick just because you didn’t want to go to work? Sick days are expensive for a company, especially a smaller one.
  3. Greater productivity. Lower absenteeism and a happy and inspired workforce get more work done. It’s as simple as that. The more productive your employees are, the fewer of them you need. Greater productivity leads to lower costs and greater profits.
  4. Engaged employees. When employees like and respect their work culture, their overall satisfaction increases, and so does your bottom line.
  5. Innovation. It’s hard to be creative in an unpleasant environment. Creativity is the key to the success of any business. Whether it’s developing exciting and innovative products and services or finding new ways to decrease costs, creativity is vital.
  6. Better teamwork. When everyone buys into the company culture, it’s easier to work together. Teams can accomplish more than individual employees, so teamwork is essential to the long-term success of a company. Companies with inspiring work cultures have great teams and teamwork.
  7. Employee retention. Companies with highly rated cultures have significantly fewer employees jumping ship. Everyone that’s had at least a couple of jobs knows the value of an enjoyable work experience.
  8. Improved customer experience. An engaged employee provides a better customer experience, particularly if the culture emphasizes the importance of long-term customer relationships.

Whether you want it or not, your company requires an intentional focus on culture once it grows beyond a few employees.  How are you doing in building a great culture?

This is the first part in a multi-part series about culture. Check in next week to carry the conversation further!