Company culture. It sure is getting a lot of attention these days–and for good reason.

When you take a look at the popularity of the term “company culture” on Google Trends (click here) you will notice that it really started increasing after 2009, right after the “Great Recession” happened. The reason for this? During the recession, workers were desperate for a job (any job), but once the economy turned around, the realization happened that simply having a job wasn’t enough. They wanted to be fulfilled.

Flash forward to now and the interest in “company culture” on Google Trends is at an all-time high. Why? Because it’s that important, and once again, workers are valuing company culture and career fulfillment over simply collecting a paycheck. And the current job market promotes this; if you want a job right now, you can easily find one. Almost every company is hiring. And if that job doesn’t fill your needs outside of a paycheck, you can easily find a new one that will.

Consider this statistic: 9 out of 10 workers are willing to earn less money if they are able to do more meaningful work. Additionally, looking at millennials specifically, 86% of them would consider taking a pay cut to work for a company whose values and mission align with their own. 

Higher pay is still a common tactic used by companies to attract talent, and it may get plenty of people through the door for an interview, but the fact of the matter is that employees aren’t going to stay simply for a paycheck: they need more.

What Is Company Culture?

“We have a great culture.”

If you’ve paid attention to any of the hiring ads in your area, you’ve most likely heard this phrase. But what does having a great culture actually mean? It’s really easy to slap a buzzword on an ad and hope nobody questions it, but truly having a strong workplace culture requires work.

Many companies associate their company culture with the ability to work from home, or unlimited vacation. Sometimes they think culture comes in the form of ping pong tables in the break room, or maybe even free snacks and drinks throughout the day.

Those are called perks, not company culture building blocks. 

Company culture is about the connections and environment within the workplace. It’s about trust, respect, and creating an environment that fosters creativity and brings out the best in people, from top management all the way down. The most important aspect of a strong company culture is full buy-in from everyone within, not just some. 

When this exists, and everyone in the organization has a reason to get up, come into work every day (more than just a paycheck), and leave fulfilled…that is when a company has a strong culture.

Does Company Culture Start From The Top Or Bottom?

The foundation and continual building of a strong company culture absolutely starts from the top and works its way down. And without full buy-in from top-level owners and managers, it’s going to be impossible for a strong company culture to exist–which is when an organization will constantly lose top talent.

In the hierarchy of an organization, the lower-level employees are the most impressionable, and most of those look up to and emulate their managers. So when an upper-level, or even middle manager does not fully accept, embrace, and promote a strong company culture, every single employee that is underneath him or her is going to have the same negative connotation toward it.

On the flip side, the managers that do place an importance on having and promoting a strong company culture are more likely to be managing employees that also understand and value that aspect of the workplace, and thus far less likely to leave the organization for greener pastures.

But how do you know if your upper and middle managers are truly bought into maintaining and strengthening the culture at your organization?

Well, first you need to ask the employees that they manage. Those are the people that see whether or not it is true firsthand. Just like you need to ask the middle managers about upper management, and just like you need to ask upper management about the owners. 

Think of company culture as a chain that starts from the top and cascades down. Being committed to and building a strong culture needs to be a priority to the owners, and once that is accomplished, it moves down to upper management, and so on and so forth. Any missing link within that chain–meaning a level of employee that isn’t fully bought into the importance of it–weakens the system and causes problems for the people further down.

If a company is fully committed to building and maintaining a strong culture, it needs to survey all of the employees and find out where the weak links in the culture chain exist, and then act accordingly to fix and strengthen it. And one of the best options you have here is a survey done by someone outside of the organization to elicit true and unfiltered feedback from the employees.

Click here to learn more about scheduling a Culture and Engagement Audit by Jellison Group Ohio, a Gallup Strengths certified organization, and start the journey of getting all of your employees on the path toward truly building a strong company culture within your organization. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here