Company culture is the invisible force driving your business. It determines everything from what does and doesn’t get done on a day-to-day basis, to the bottom line and the achievement of long-term, strategic goals. Business leaders looking to boost business performance must therefore invest in cultural improvement.

Defining company culture

Before improvements can be made, however, it’s important to understand what company culture is – and more importantly, what it isn’t.

Put simply, culture can be defined as the collective processes and behaviours followed within an organisation. This is not to be conflated with employee engagement. Indeed, efforts to improve culture by boosting engagement on an individual basis – focussing on subjective thoughts, feelings and attitudes – will ultimately fail, as they don’t account for the bigger picture and won’t, therefore, reflect in wider, tangible performance.

It’s more useful to think of engagement as a by-product of culture. Implement strong culture through strategic, measurable, actionable goals and better engagement will follow.

The business benefits of positive culture

Improved engagement

Staff serve as your business engine. As such, if you want to improve performance, you need to improve engagement to enhance production. In order to improve engagement, however – and, vitally, make it stick – you need to address culture. This is because the systems, processes and behaviours that employees are expected to engage with and adopt as part of their jobs have the greatest impact on their day-to-day experience, which, ultimately, has the largest influence over motivation and satisfaction.

Better recruitment and retention

Statistics back this up, with one study finding that companies with a robust, well-defined culture enjoy a 72% higher employee engagement rate than those experiencing a misaligned culture. Because of this, companies that are able to get their culture right are better positioned to attract and retain top talent.

More cohesive action

In order to improve company culture, organisations must evaluate their current position, diagnose any problems and come up with well-defined targets to strive for. Clear KPIs must then be put in place to track these actionable goals, ultimately meaning that everyone within the organisation remains on the same page in their each and every action. When all members of all teams are working towards the same overarching mission and goal, companies benefit from much more efficient, effective performance.

Commitment to excellence

Likewise, when everyone is working as a cohesive unit, it’s easier for staff to commit to the same, exacting standards of delivery across the board. This, in turn, boosts brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, driving further, long-standing success for the business.

Greater company innovation

Companies with thriving, well-established cultures have also been proven to boost innovation, as team members working towards clearly defined procedures and standards are better empowered to work thoughtfully and accurately. This can lead to more profit-making ideas that are aligned with the company’s overall strategy.

Greater resilience

Finally, a measurable and quantifiable culture that can continually be worked on can protect companies from the many hurdles that businesses are now facing. Increased market competition, technological advancements and the need to foster work/life balance have left many businesses juggling long-term strategy with day-to-day performance and productivity, for example. This can be easily resolved with practical cultural alignment, allowing businesses to boost both.

Joining the cultural dots

With the concepts of culture and engagement often used interchangeably, the idea of overall company culture has become rather fuzzy, making it harder for business leaders to address and improve.

It’s easy to conflate culture with vague ideas of employee perks and social events. Whilst these things certainly have a place in creating satisfactory working environments, focussing on this alone without digging any deeper can thwart performance efforts.

The reality is that businesses must de-conflate culture and engagement if they are to build a clear picture of who they are, diagnosing any areas for improvement within their current culture before tracking their present position against any clearly defined, actionable and quantifiable cultural goals. This can only be achieved through a unified, underlying strategy, based on current business performance requirements.

Final thoughts

There is an increasing need to recognise the significant role culture plays in determining the growth and success of a business, with culture being recognised as a driving force behind engagement, rather than a synonym of it.

Once real commitment to addressing culture as it currently stands has been made, leaders and leadership teams alike will be better placed to steer company culture, aligning it perfectly with business goals.

Charlie Coode
Charlie Coode
Founder at Culture15 | + posts

Culture15 is an innovative SaaS business that provides organisations with a rigorous platform to measure and manage culture, and has since helped more than 50 organisations, across 65 countries, put culture at the heart of business performance through the power of technology, and data.