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Company culture: definition and examples

What is company culture?

A company’s culture encompasses the personality of a business, which can include their brand values, the way their employees behave, and how they communicate with one another. Every business has a unique company culture which determines everything from employee retention to your bottom line.

Whether you’re starting up or looking to evolve your company culture, this guide is for you and will cover the following:

Examples of company culture

Starbucks cupStarbucks Coffee - "Creating a culture of warmth and belonging."

An international and wildly successful coffee chain, Starbucks has developed a culture of inclusivity. Alongside their partners, they claim to live these values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

Read more about Starbucks' culture and values and about why Starbucks are so successful.

Howorth Air Technology - "The Howorth Way."

howarth-logoHoworth Air Technology, led by Jim Liptrot and based in Manchester, has been working with TAB for 5 years, have established their culture and branded it “The Howorth Way.”

The Howorth Way has been published for all employees and covers the following areas:

  • What are our behaviours?
  • An expected, desirable and aspirational scale for each of those behaviours
  • An explanation of how those behaviours contribute to their business growth

Their key behaviours are ‘integrity,’ ‘collaboration’ and ‘excellence’. These three types of behaviour are applicable to all members of staff, regardless of their role.

This is an excellent example of a clear company culture, alongside culture statements such as “we believe in the power of people.” “The Howorth Way” has been published into a booklet provided for each employee so they can continue to practice the culture in their day-to-day business operations.

TABLogo-Blue_143x80The Alternative Board – “The TAB Way.”

The TAB Way is our philosophy and the way we do business. It encompasses four distinct areas: value, culture, brand and experience.

An important part of our culture is our culture statement: We are a giving and receiving community, where we treat each other as we would like to be treated and pursue trusted advisor relationships.

Another essential aspect is our culture standards or values which we call “CALIBRE”:

  • C – Community
  • A – Accountability
  • L – Lifelong Learning
  • I – Innovation
  • B – Belief
  • R – Respect
  • E – Excellence

We encourage our facilitators to assess whether they are operating according to the TAB Way and then to adjust their behaviours and business operations in order to fulfil our brand and cultural standards.

What makes a strong company culture?

Company culture lanyardAt its heart, company culture affects how your employees feel about their jobs — which in turn affects your business’s profitability and your relationship with your customers.

Answering these questions will help you to determine how strong your culture is:

  • Do your employees dread coming to work every day, or are they enthusiastic about their jobs?
  • Are your employees simply punching a clock and collecting a payslip, or are they in tune with your mission and actively helping your business grow?
  • Are your employees all acting as individuals, or are they all part of one greater team?

Easy ways to improve your company culture

Here are some straightforward ways to evolve and improve your company culture:

  1. Survey your employees

An anonymous survey is a powerful way to gather information on how your employees really feel. (Of course, this may not be as effective in a small company where employees may worry about being linked to their opinions anyway.) There are numerous online services and companies that can help you with this — you could create a simple free survey with an online site like SurveyMonkey, or hire a consulting firm to create a more elaborate survey for you. Ask questions about your employees’ happiness levels, their relationship with management, their perception of your company’s values and whether they see themselves growing with your company.

  1. Interview your employees

Anonymous answers from a survey can give you a sense of the overall pulse within your company, but conversations with individual employees can help shed insight into these real issues. Keep in mind, however, that unless an employee feels extremely comfortable with you or your management team, they’re not likely to say everything that’s on their mind. Answers may be given with more honesty if the interviews are being done by a consulting group or another third party. Focus groups can also be an effective way to dive into how your employees feel about your culture. These can sometimes turn into brainstorming sessions that could lead to insightful ideas to help you strengthen your culture. Another good source of information about your company culture can come from exit interviews with employees who are leaving.

  1. Hire a consultant

If you’re serious about strengthening your company culture, it may be time to turn to the experts. A consultant has the benefit of being able to speak with employees with confidence, to see your business with an outsider’s perspective and to bring their years of expertise to bear on your unique problems. Hiring a consultant can be pricey, but the expense could be worth it if problems in your company culture are costing you in terms of employee turnover, hiring costs and loss of business.

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Having worked with thousands of business owners, we have first-hand experience of how a strong company culture impacts business success. To go even deeper into the concept of company culture, download our free business guide – “Easy ways to improve your company culture.”

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