We humans are irresistibly impacted by our surroundings. Physical conditions, like comfort, space, and even exposure to natural light have a major influence on our level of performance and feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Perhaps even more significant, though, is the effect of less tangible factors.

Even in a workplace with a great physical environment, a crack team, and all the tools necessary to get the job done, we can find something lacking.  Even the most stellar team won’t live up to its potential if the organization has failed to develop a strong company culture.

This is the personality or soul of the organization. It’s made up of shared behaviors and values of both employees and management. It includes assumptions that can be made by both groups, and is driven by the company’s policies, demographics, and leadership style, as well as the physical workspace. Every company has a culture; some are deliberately designed and some happen on their own. The former is vastly superior, and time spent developing and shaping company culture is time well spent.

Getting the Most from the Best Talent

Company culture has far-reaching impacts, and is far too important to be left to chance. According to experts, these are some of the things that a strong company culture does:

  • Differentiates the company from competitors
  • Helps attract and retain talent
  • Improves employee engagement and productivity

Managers are aware of the benefits of a strong corporate culture in attracting top workers, and in their job satisfaction over time.  A recent report on workforce trends identified Culture and Engagement as an important factor in hiring and retaining top employees.

Just as a positive company culture helps bring people into the organization, it also sets them up for higher performance. A study discussed on TED’s Ideas site found that the most successful and effective teams were not those with the highest combined IQ’s or the most brilliant members. What made the teams effective was what’s referred to as “social capital.”

This is the essential element, the “secret sauce” that puts the team’s connection to work on shared goals. Social capital is “the trust, knowledge, reciprocity and shared norms that create quality of life and make a group resilient.”  This connection leads team members to share their ideas and concerns and contribute to each other’s thinking.

A strong company culture encourages and enables this sort of synergy to occur. The study listed 3 key qualities of effective teams:

  • Everyone was given roughly even amounts of time to talk within the group. In other words, no “drivers” or “passengers.” Everyone contributes.
  • Team members were “socially sensitive” –more tuned in to each other’s mood and demeanor.
  • The most effective teams tended to include women. This may indicate that diversity is beneficial for productivity as well.

The high level of trust that develops within this corporate environment is what helps teams to handle conflict and difficult problems. It creates a safe climate for risking fresh ideas or questioning honestly –a requirement for creativity.

A deliberately designed corporate culture is what builds this social capital, and it’s increasingly important to prospective employees for that reason. Considering its proven relationship to engagement and productivity, culture is critical to success.        

With Millennials and Gen Z playing a more active role in the workplace – which will only continue at a more rapid rate moving forward – not spending the time to look at everything from the location of your space to the snacks and amenities you offer within that space will not only be a problem for the growth of your company, it could kill it.

For more on company culture, check out my latest post: 54 Million Workers Believe Technology Plays Second Fiddle: Here’s Why