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Defining company culture: the dos and don’ts.

Everyone tells us that a good company culture is the key to better productivity, increased staff wellbeing and an overall more successful business. But what does it actually mean?

If you run a business, work in a people management role or have just been on LinkedIn in the last year, at some point you’ve probably had your ear chewed off about company culture. We’re told that a good company culture is the key to improving productivity, increasing the wellbeing of your staff and generally just helping you build a better business. But what does it actually mean? We’re drilling down into what ‘company culture’ looks like in practice – and also covering the things that definitely don’t count.

Company culture is: creating a supportive environment.

Creating a supportive environment where your people feel free to raise concerns, build relationships and share ideas is pretty much the main pillar of company culture. Your ‘culture’ is all about your people, and whether or not they feel a sense of belonging at work. This could come in a variety of forms. Maybe you schedule regular check-ins with your people to see how they’re feeling that week. Perhaps you have a feedback box where they’re free to drop a note with suggestions or constructive criticisms. Whatever it is, ensuring staff feel supported and empowered at work means you’re doing something right.

Company culture isn’t: performative support.

However, creating a supportive environment only counts if you’re actually doing the work. For example, a singular post on LinkedIn celebrating Pride Month means nothing if you’re not doing things to actively support the LGBTQ+ people in your team. Saying that you provide a supportive environment doesn’t count unless you’re doing it!

Company culture is: encouraging working relationships.

Every business with good company culture should feel like a community. With more and more people choosing flexible working options, it’s harder than ever for your people to feel connected to one another. Whether it’s a quick chat at the water cooler or sharing their lunchbreak, those small, every day interactions are what create connections between staff, and build loyalty to the company community. With remote working becoming commonplace, it could be time to consider how we can work to enhance those relationships from afar.

Company culture isn’t: forcing people to be friends.

Take traditional-style company mentoring programs, where you’d match two people within your organisation arbitrarily, and tell them that in order to achieve their performance review they need to meet three times a month and fill out a form on how their mentoring is going. Has this ever worked? A positive company culture means creating the space for your people to develop connections, but allowing them to maintain their autonomy in where this leads them.

Company culture is: providing tangible benefits.

There’s nothing wrong with providing your people with the odd benefit. Maybe they work from home 3 days a week to manage their childcare; maybe you’re funding a new qualification for them; maybe you’re helping them build their professional development by providing them with a space to support other people in their community and build their CV at the same time (hint hint). In all seriousness, the thing about perks is that they need to be relevant, they need to be reasonable and they need to make a genuine difference to the day to day working life of your organisation.

Company culture isn’t: providing meaningless perks.

Let’s be honest: no one really needs a beer fridge in the office, a ping pong table or casual Fridays to feel supported at work. These sorts of perks might be fun, but unless they’re backed up by additional support on a deeper level, they really do nothing at all. Company culture is about more than just what looks good on LinkedIn!

Want to learn more about how we use mentoring to help build cohesion, culture and connection within your organisation? Turn your company into a community with Indigo.

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