Workplace culture

What is Workplace Culture and Why is it Important?

6 min read
Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland

Your workplace culture is one of the things that defines your business. It may seem like something that’s completely organic – and to some extent it is – but it’s also something that you can (and should) shape and guide. 

What is workplace culture?

Workplace culture is a way of describing the kind of environment and atmosphere your organisation offers. It’s made up of all of the values, belief systems, attitudes and assumptions shared by everyone in your workplace and can significantly influence the way your employees feel about working for your company. 

According to Gallup, culture is about “how we do things around here” – the way that your people live your company’s purpose.

A workplace culture might be made up of lots of little parts, but it can also be influenced as a whole – especially if you’re willing to take a good look at what your culture is like. Being firm in your understanding of what your work culture currently is and what you’d like it to be gives you an excellent foundation for creating the kind of workplace that attracts great people. 

Why is workplace culture important?

A company’s culture can be one of its strongest assets. A good culture not only encourages high-performance in current staff, it also reduces the chances of them leaving and increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to attract new talent too. 

Most people want to work in a place that has a ‘good’ culture and where they feel as though they’ll fit in. Perhaps unsurprisingly, found that 77% of people consider a company’s culture before taking a job. 

Workplace Culture

So what are the benefits of a good company culture?

1. Attract good people: A strong company culture acts as a differentiator, helping you attract the best people, and also attract and keep paying customers, and turn them into brand advocates.

2. Decrease employee turnover: When your people love your company culture, get along with one another, believe in the company’s purpose and leadership, then you will see voluntary turnover drop significantly.

3. Create a stronger sense of alignment: When your people all rally around the same culture and purpose, it creates a powerful sense of alignment and momentum. It means that every stakeholder – employees, customers, investors and can all speak about your company in the same way. 

4. Increase employee engagement: A strong workplace culture can lead to higher levels of employee engagement, because employees are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and belief in their work. 

Characteristics of a healthy workplace culture

While every company culture will be different, there are a few things that healthy ones have in common. You’ll know your workplace culture is in a good state of health if:

  • Employees describe your culture using words such as “fun”, “friendly”, “supportive”, “collaborative”, “caring”, “exciting” or “rewarding”
  • Turn over rates and low and employees are content
  • Employees are engaged and motivated
  • Employees feel free to take risks and aim for the top
  • Everyone has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it
Company culture

What impacts workplace culture

Company culture can be shaped by many factors, but there are some big hitters that are likely to have maximum impact, such as:

How you talk about your culture

One very important step is the ability to successfully describe your company culture. This ability to share your vision and hopes is essential for communicating the values, habits and behaviours that you want to see in your organisation. Once you know how to describe your culture, you’ll be in a good position to help the rest of your team get on board.

Your recruitment practices

It’s also essential to think about your culture when recruiting. The Robert Walters Ground found that 90% of employers think it’s very important to find candidates who fit in well with your culture. 

This should come as no surprise, if you think about how well a harmonious team works and how much one discordant voice can throw the whole balance off. Working out how to determine a good culture fit at the interview stage will save you a ton of hassle in the long run. 

How well your leaders are leading

Leadership performance is a massive indicator of how healthy a workplace culture will be. Micro-management or poor leadership can quickly drag even a positive culture down, while leaders who have strong management skills are more likely to create the kind of environment where a strong culture thrives.  Learn more about how leaders can influence company culture.

How to create a positive workplace culture

Creating a positive workplace culture isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but it does require some careful tending and attention. There’s more to it than simply hiring a brilliant bunch of people and hoping that they’ll all get along fabulously. Guidance from the top is essential. Here are a few of the things you can do to help. 

Have a clear organisational goal

A strong and confident direction for the business can also help create a meaningful and healthy culture. A survey from Deloitte found that 76% of executives and employees believed that a “clearly defined business strategy” helped create a positive culture.

Create a diverse and inclusive workplace

By putting the focus on creating and maintaining diverse and inclusive workplaces, you can help create an environment where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated. This not only contributes to better business resilience all round but has some big benefits for the culture too. 

Foster communication and collaboration 

Also essential is creating a space where communication and collaboration are valued and encouraged. Poor workplace communication can cause a huge drain on energy, efficiency and mood, while teams that are able to talk freely and work together well tend to be happy and high performing. Focus on being clear in your own communications and on building trust – and don’t forget to reward collaboration and team efforts. 

Make space for regular appreciation 

Creating a culture of appreciation for your employees is a sure-fire way to help build a positive environment and good company culture. People who feel appreciated tend to feel more motivated and, when you’re considering company culture, it can be a real advantage to reward community-minded behaviour as well as more obvious wins. 

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition 

There’s also a lot to be said for creating an environment where peer-to-peer recognition is encouraged. Using a recognition platform that makes it easy for employees to shout about the ways their colleagues excel is great for creating bonds and strengthening teams – which has a big knock-on effect for your culture. 

Find out more about Mo!

Mo is a new kind of reward and recognition platform that makes it easy for busy managers to meaningfully recognise, engage and connect with their teams.

We equip managers with weekly suggestions to energise and connect with their people, help teams build habits of recognition into their day-to-day rhythms and go beyond simple rewards as a way to motivate staff.

Join companies like SHL, OVO Energy and William Hill in delivering meaningful improvement on engagement results with Mo. Book a free demo today!

Transform your culture with Mo

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Book a free demo to learn how Mo can help you:
  • Improve employee engagement scores
  • Reduce employee churn
  • Build a collaborative culture
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can workplace culture be changed?

Workplace culture can absolutely be changed. It takes work, and it requires everyone in the company, especially senior leadership and people managers, to be on board. It takes time, and it has to start with how leaders interact with their teams and role model culturally positive behaviours. Learn more about how leaders impact culture.

What is a toxic workplace culture?

A toxic workplace culture is one where harmful attitudes, practices and behaviours take precedence, including unhealthy levels of competition, lack of recognition, disrespect, bullying or harassment, a lack of trust, and often the expectation for employees to work to the point of burnout. A toxic workplace is one where stress levels are high and a negative environment leads to an unhealthy dynamic that impacts engagement, morale and performance.

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