Organizational culture is defining the way we work today. It drives talent recruitment and engagement, and impacts productivity.
What is organizational culture exactly?
According to SHRM, organizational culture “consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding. Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does. Because industries and situations vary significantly, there is not a one-size-fits-all culture template that meets the needs of all organizations.”
Organizational culture helps define expectations and guides day-to-day operations so all employees understand what drives the company. Clearly defined values and beliefs can reduce turnover because it allows candidates to know up front if the company is a good fit and when all employees are held to the same standard of expectation, employees can work feeling empowered and respected.
An article in HR Digest shares, “Organizational culture refers to shared values, beliefs, norms, and practices. These values guide employees’ behavior and attitudes towards their jobs. They also shape the way they interact with each other and their environment.”
Training materials and formal training processes can ensure that all employees learn and understand the culture, however, ongoing communication with all employees to reinforce key messages.
HR Digest identifies four elements of organizational culture: values, behaviors, beliefs, and structure.
- Values – a set of standards by which you make decisions and determine how to deal with situations such as honesty, integrity, justice, respect, compassion, and responsibility
- Behaviors – actions as part of your daily work routine including tasks, procedures, responsibilities, policies
- Beliefs – this involves how we define who we are – assumptions, opinions, ideas, facts, feelings, memories, and expectations – and shapes attitudes toward others and determines how we act
- Structure – clear rules and regulations under which employees operate to track mission and objectives, set priorities, and manage time efficiently
For many small companies and tech start-ups, culture is the main selling point in talent recruitment, but as companies grow, organizational culture and how it is communicated and maintained must be evaluated.
Last year, at the Technical.ly Introduced Conference in May, Truvelop CEO Lisa First-Willis shared, “Your culture is a living, breathing thing. So as you hire more people your culture is going to shift, it’s going to adapt, and if it’s not then you’ve got a problem. There [can be] a real disconnect because those behaviors, those core values, your vision, your mission, all those things tie directly into culture.”
To gauge how employees feel about culture, we recommend leaders ask employees directly, if you have the bandwidth, either through HR or conducting regular employee assessments. For larger organizations, that can mean sending surveys a few times a year to check in on things. Questions can include whether or not employees feel like they can take risks and whether or not the company is accountable in times of conflict.
Culture is ultimately rooted in the people, therefore, it is important that the company clearly defines its passion, vision and mission, and that it is embedded in the day-to-day operations so that every employee lives it and new employees understand it.
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