How Company Culture Improves Productivity And Happiness At Work

Luis Congdon
July 1, 2019

Walk into any office or company building - and you’ll feel something. In a nutshell, that feeling is company culture. And if we zoom in a little closer, we’ll find that company culture is comprised of much more

When we’re digging in to discover what company culture is, we’ll want to look at a set of intertwining variables that work cohesively. Company culture is much more than how the staff relates to each other, how they feel while at work, or what the employees are paid. 

In this article, we’ll be diving into what it takes to create a company culture that improves team performance, increases happiness at work, and helps you attract the best help in the world. 

Why Company Culture Matters 

Creating a healthy and positive company culture can be the difference between a sinking ship and a thriving business. In fact, according to research from Columbia University and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, company culture affects performance and the overall satisfaction of employees. 

Just like Google has created an appealing company culture that attracts top-tier talent, your company will excel in its productivity by having a positive company culture. Whether you’re running a corporate office, a small business with a few employees, or a midsized firm with more staff - knowing how to create a positive company culture is essential to your business success. 

If you have ever walked onto a job site and wanted to immediately leave - then you know that company culture matters. In the same vein, you’ve likely worked at a place where you liked the job, the staff, and the vibe - and so you worked harder, longer, and with increased happiness. Boiled down to the most essential, company culture matters because it’s shown to improve performance, productivity, engagement, and the happiness of your staff and team. 

Company Culture Starts With Its Leaders 

When you Google the term, “Company Culture,” you’ll find articles describing what it is and how to create it. Sadly, most of the content online overlooks the importance of leadership in creating a positive company culture - yet according to this Harvard Business Review article, corporate culture is first set and defined by its leaders. 

If it’s true that we all tend to emulate our leaders, it holds that those at the top are essential to creating a positive company culture. As a person in power, it’s your job to set the pace and mood at work. As a leader, whatever you do and whatever you say is likely to be emulated by your staff. Knowing how to set the tone will immensely help create a positive work experience for your team and improve productivity. 

As outlined in one of Inc. Magazine’s article, here are seven suggestions you can use to enhance the company and corporate culture. You can acknowledge your team by giving compliments, keep common areas clean and tidy, make your staff feel safe by encouraging an open dialogue, focus on solutions to problems, promote positivity, be consistent, don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent. 

Corporate Culture Is About The Team 

If the leadership sets the pace at work and leads the company -- it’s the team that maintains, affirms, and keeps it alive. In Rob Steffens article, “11 Examples of Companies with the Best Workplace Culture” he carries one common theme among each company --it’s their ability to focus on the team and not one sole leader. While a CEO or Founder may help set the mood at work, ultimately it’s the team that will keep it alive and makes it thrive or die. 

One of the best ways to create a strong company culture is by hiring the right way. The right team will make a world of difference. It’s for this reason that in Ron Friedman’s book, “The Best Places To Work” he cites a new trend of extended multi-step interviews, experiential type interviews, and bringing in staff on contract bases before hiring them. By utilizing new processes to assess a new hire’s fit, companies like Intel and Cerner have attracted high-quality staff. 

As cited by Kellogg School Of Management at Northwestern University, the people we work with have a ‘spillover effect’ on our moods and productivity. Hiring someone based on just their resume and interview skills is a thing of the past, now we hire for skills and enhancement of company culture. 

When you want to hire the right people, here are some considerations: 

  • How will the potential hire work with the current team? 
  • How will the new hire improve and enhance the workplace? 
  • What kind of worker do you want - an introvert or someone more extroverted for the role? 
  • Someone who thrives in routine or enjoys a fast-paced changing environment? 

Considering these questions as well as these other ones outlined in Fast Company’s article here will help you ask the right questions. 

Incentives & Benefits That Improve Company Culture 

While Google is well known for its life-changing technology, it’s also famous for innovation in trend-setting the workplace. As noted by Neil Patel and Investopedia, Google has created unique ways to attract and retain the best talent in the world. From offering free meals, access to on-site childcare, paying for gym memberships, paid time off for mothers, diner booths, and many other benefits. 

Among Google’s ranks of great company cultures, there’s also Starbucks. Starbucks has done such a great job of hiring the right people that people often ask why the employees seem so happy. 

Ideally, when someone walks into your establishment, they feel good. Whether it’s a customer, staff personnel, or potential new hire, we want everyone to feel positive when they engage with your business. 

Some ways you can improve your company culture are:

  • Offer casual Fridays
  • Start the day with appreciation
  • Write your staff with compliments (and encourage others to do the same)
  • Do company parties 
  • Offer useful trainings 
  • Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner (budget option: Have weekly/monthly pizza days)
  • Free health and dental
  • Offer a commuter benefits program
  • Hybrid car subsidies
  • Video games, foosball, ping pong
  • Utilize mindfulness strategies at work
  • On-site physicians
  • Have an open office layout

All these perks come at a cost, but so do unhappy employees and high turnover. This culture of incentivizing employees has paid off for Google, as they consistently rank among the best places to work. The more your company demands quality, the more incentives and perks will help you attract and retain the best performers. 

Hiring For Culture Fit Based On Company Values And Mission

In a video on the Facebook Careers page, Mark Zuckerberg says: “The reason why we’ve built a company is because I think a company is by far the best way to get the best people together and align their incentives around doing something great.”

At Facebook, it’s about connecting the world. The values drive the day in and day of every operation. If an employee isn’t interested in the mission and values of Facebook, they’ll feel like it’s just another job. And that eventually breeds a disinterested employee. On the other hand, when an employee is interested in the mission and believes in it, they’ll work hard and give their work that touch of personal investment. 

To hire for company culture, be sure you have a mission statement and a set of core values that everyone knows. As shown in an interview I did with an Inc. 5000 company, Office Pride, companies thrive and grow best when a mission motivates the team.

If you want a business that excels, grows, and minimizes hiccups, take some time to consider the importance of company culture. Take note of what you see and look at what you would like to have so that you can grow and thrive. 

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