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Why Is Company Culture So Important?

The Only Thing We Can Be Certain Of Is Change A great company culture used to be seen as giving a competitive advantage. But today it is proving to be a “must have”. With the changing workplace structure and increase in millennial employees, company culture is a hot topic which will not be going away anytime soon.

What is company culture?

Quite simply put, culture is “how” things get done. It is the behaviours and values of a shared group of people or as co-founder of Airbnb, Brian Cheksy explained, “a shared way of doing something with passion”. Most companies are realising the importance of culture, it can be said it is the foundation of a business. Yet a lot of organisations are still not using their culture to align the business strategy with their people to achieve maximum success.

Why is culture important?

George LaRocque, founder of LAROCQUE recently explained in his #HRWINS executive brief, “where purpose meets performance: can HR tech solve culture?” how the strongest component of culture that resonates with employees, of all generations, is having purpose and meaning in their work.

With the rise in millennials in the workplace this shift is even more evident. Growing up in a time of financial prosperity and rapid technological advancements, a job is much more than a stable place to work for 30 years. Employees want more and are paying attention to company values, purpose, community and culture. More so than ever, if employees are convinced of a larger common goal they will be more excited to be part of a larger purpose. When businesses are operating in competitive fields, company culture can be the tipping point for applicants. Companies need to stand out from the crowd and a positive corporate culture enables the hiring and retention of top-quality employees.

This has been identified at Zappos, the online shoe and clothing shop who are well known for culture fit interviews centred around ten core values which are instilled in every team member, such as embracing change and being humble. Zappos hire according to cultural fit and their values so that they have a team dedicated to promoting that culture who are engaged in their work. They know that happy employees ultimately mean happy customers.

How do you create a company culture?

Start-up companies have a great opportunity to get things right from the outset. Establishing a company culture which helps the business thrive right from the start-up phase so that employee behaviours and attitudes are aligned to the company vision from the beginning.

When larger or more established businesses try to improve their culture, it is important to identify the positive attributes currently within the business and existing culture which already lead to success and find ways to promote and extend them throughout the organisation. It is better to share and celebrate when your employees are living your values and then share this throughout the business.

Sometimes however it can be hard to keep a company culture and change is required. It may be the culture has to reinvent itself to be relevant for the employees and management across the expanding business. Google is well known for its growth and keeping this uniform culture has been difficult between headquarters and satellite offices. As the company has grown, the culture has adapted. Working in a more competitive environment can put more pressure on the employees, so a culture which offers good work-life balance is essential. Having an evolving culture which can grow with your business is vital.

Most importantly pick the values, attitude and behaviours which work best for your company.

What role does HR play in this?

It could be argued what department is in a better position to align and strengthen the culture? HR can communicate the company vision, mission and values at all opportunities to all internal and external stakeholders and influence the company in where it invests its energy. Focusing on what actually matters to achieve the vision can lead to company success. HR knows improving workplace culture not only helps to attract employees but also retain and engage them. By making employees’ experience happier, this in turn leads to improved profitability.

In conclusion, of course there is no one size fits all and no culture is innately positive or negative or better than another. It is what works for that company and whatever you, your employees, customers and stakeholders want it to be. But when you get the company culture right for your business great customer service and a strong brand will happen on its own and the culture will enable you to align the business strategy with your people to achieve maximum success.


What do you think? What else can HR do to strengthen company culture? Does the culture in your organisation align the business strategy with your employees?


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