Why Worry About Culture

Author’s note: this is part of a long blog series on corporate culture.  Feel free to look back on previous blogs to explore previous material on evaluating, changing and establishing your corporate culture within the business context.

Before we get into the meat of the discussion about culture, it is important to understand why as business people we should be concerned with the culture in our workplace.  I would like to refer you back to my chapter in Zebedee and Sons Fishing Co. on the Sabbath. Some readers thought that chapter was it is irrelevant because not everyone is involved in working on weekends or excessive hours.

But on closer examination, the chapter is really about understanding your employees.

For most companies, the employees are the machinery that keeps the business running.  Yet, we do not treat our employees the same as our expensive machinery.  The equipment in my business gets regularly overhauled, maintained, and updated.  We are diligent about where we buy from and who can service our equipment.  We study the equipment so we know everything we need about its history, maintenance, and operation even to the point we know the climate it works best in and conditions we must avoid.

We do not always treat our employees with the same level of care.  Granted we give them good (even great benefits) and some companies even provide outrageous perks, but often, we really do not fully understand our employees.  We do not know what makes them go, what conditions they work best in, what their individual limits are, or what situations they perform the best in.  Sure, some of the mega-companies spend money on studies and physical enhancements to boost productivity, but that is such a small percentage of the overall workforce.

Understanding our employees need to celebrate the Sabbath is one strong step toward understudying the culture of our employees.

For us to understand our production machinery (our employees), we need to understand the individuals better.

But even with just a few employees the task of tailoring our work environment for each employee is too daunting. The best we can hope for is to understand the “culture” of a large group of our employees and then focus on that culture in deciding what we can do to take care of our employees.  The culture is representative of all our employees individually.

University and industry studies are now beginning to report that corporate culture is the most important factor in driving innovation. Considering how many hours many employees spend at work with their coworkers, it is understandable that those hours need to be enjoyable and meaningful.

All this points to the importance of the corporate culture.

If you, as a businessperson, do not proactively promote a corporate culture, the employees will develop one out of their own personal needs. So why would you not want to develop a corporate culture that gives the employees a sense of meaning and ownership, and at the same time have a culture that reflects what you want of your business?

Several business reasons for creating an appropriate culture are:

  1. A positive corporate culture attracts strong talent.
  2. A positive corporate culture keeps and promotes top talent.
  3. A positive corporate culture modifies the employees view of work from one of duty to one of excitement, fulfillment and ownership.
  4. A positive corporate culture self-promotes efficiency and success among the employees.
  5. A positive corporate culture creates momentum and synergy where people feel valued and able to express themselves freely.

Remember, as the Bible says in Luke 12:23.

“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” A positive corporate culture will produce more in a work environment than simply treating our employees as just laborers.