April 9, 2019

By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner

WHAT IS IT? – Your Company culture is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your business unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes. Positive workplace culture attracts talent, drives engagement, impacts happiness and satisfaction, and affects performance. The personality of your business is influenced by everything -  leadership, management, workplace practices, policies, people, and more.

SHOULD WE CARE? – Culture is as important as your business strategy because it either strengthens or undermines your objectives. Positive culture is significant, especially because:

• It attracts talent. Job candidates evaluate your organization and its climate. A strong, positive, clearly defined and well-communicated culture attracts talent that fits.
• It drives engagement and retention. Culture impacts how employees interact with their work and your organization.
• It impacts happiness and satisfaction. Research shows that employee happiness and satisfaction are linked to strong workplace culture.
• It affects performance. Organizations with stronger cultures outperform their competitors financially and are generally more successful.


Current research and studies have concluded beyond any doubt that the culture of a company can be its greatest competitive advantage. Company culture is how the values come to life in a company, in other words how much they are a part of everyday work life and decision making and also to the extent that employees understand them, are aligned with them and use them to model their own behaviors. While we can copy tactics of other companies, we cannot copy the culture because we cannot collectively live out all the behavior of another organization that has created a great culture. In other words each company culture is unique because all the people in each company are unique in how they live out the behaviors/values that drive company culture.

Yes, a company certainly can and should create a desired culture based on identifying and communicating and demonstrating company values.

Organizations that let their workplace culture form naturally without first defining what they want it to be are making a huge mistake.

Leaders should define/communicate certain values which they align with personally, and which have also contributed to their own successes.

A lot of things. Many factors play a role in developing workplace culture, such as:

LEADERSHIP – The way Company leaders communicate and interact with employees, what they communicate and emphasize, their vision for the future, what they celebrate and recognize, what they expect, the stories they tell, how they make decisions, the extent to which they are trusted, and the beliefs and perceptions they reinforce all contribute significantly to your Company culture.

MANAGEMENT – How your organization is managed, its systems, procedures, structure, hierarchy, controls, and goals. The degree to which managers empower employees to make decisions, support and interact with them, and act consistently.

WORKPLACE PRACTICES – Practices related to recruiting, selection, onboarding, compensation and benefits, rewards and recognition, training and development, advancement/promotion, performance management, wellness, and work/life balance (paid time off, leave, etc.), as well as workplace traditions.

POLICIES AND PHILOSOPHIES – Employment policies including, but not limited to, attendance, dress code, code of conduct, and scheduling, in addition to organizational philosophies such as hiring, compensation, pay for performance, and internal transfer and promotion.

PEOPLE – The people you hire — their personalities, beliefs, values, diverse skills and experiences, and everyday behaviors. The types of interactions that occur between employees (collaborative versus confrontational, supportive versus non-supportive, social versus task-oriented, etc.).

MISSION, VISION, VALUES – Clarity of mission, vision, and values and whether they honestly reflect the beliefs and philosophies of your organization, how inspiring they are to your employees, and the extent to which the mission, vision, and values are stable, widely communicated, and continuously emphasized.

WORK ENVIRONMENT – Objects, artifacts, and other physical signs in your workplace. These include what people place on their desks, what the organization hangs on its walls, how it allocates space and offices, what those offices look like (color, furniture, etc.), and how common areas are used.

COMMUNICATIONS – The manner in which communication occurs in your workplace. Importantly, the degree, type, and frequency of interaction and communication between leaders and employees, and managers and employees including the extent of transparency in sharing information and making decisions.

Remember that culture is always a work in progress. It can and will change. Make culture as important as your business strategy. It’s too significant to ignore, and shaping it is one of your most important responsibilities as a leader.

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