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Putting company culture at the top of the leadership agenda

Dr Maria Katsarou-Makin

We use the word culture in our everyday work life, but what is it exactly?

Culture is the characteristic way of behaving and believing that a group of people share. It provides a sense of belonging and it also defines behaviour. “The way we do things around here” is probably my favourite definition.

Culture plays a significant role in influencing employee performance and wellbeing within an organization. It encompasses the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that shape the work environment and therefore can impact employee performance and wellbeing in various ways:

Employee Engagement:

A positive and inclusive culture fosters higher levels of employee engagement. When employees feel connected to the organization and its mission, they are more likely to be committed and motivated, leading to improved performance.

Job Satisfaction:

A culture that prioritizes employee satisfaction contributes to overall wellbeing. When employees enjoy their work environment, feel supported, and have a sense of purpose, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, leading to higher performance.

Communication and Collaboration:

A culture that encourages open communication and collaboration can enhance teamwork and innovation. When employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas and working together, it can positively impact both performance and wellbeing.

Work-Life Balance:

Cultures that prioritize work-life balance contribute to employee wellbeing. Organizations that respect boundaries and provide flexibility are more likely to have healthier and happier employees, leading to better performance in the long run.

Recognition and Rewards:

Cultures that recognize and reward employees for their contributions can boost morale and motivation. Feeling appreciated and acknowledged for one’s efforts positively impacts both performance and wellbeing.

Leadership Style:

Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture. A supportive and empowering leadership style can positively influence employee morale, performance, and wellbeing. Conversely, a toxic or authoritarian leadership style can have detrimental effects.

Learning and Development Opportunities:

Cultures that invest in employee development contribute to both performance and wellbeing. When employees have opportunities for learning and growth, they are more likely to be engaged, satisfied, and perform at their best.

Stress and Wellbeing Programs:

A culture that addresses stress and promotes wellbeing through wellness programs, mental health support, and a supportive work environment can have a positive impact on employee performance and satisfaction.

Diversity and Inclusion:

Inclusive cultures that embrace diversity can lead to a sense of belonging among employees. Feeling valued for individual differences contributes to overall wellbeing and can enhance creativity and problem-solving, positively affecting performance.

Alignment with Personal Values:

When an organization’s culture aligns with the personal values of its employees, it creates a sense of purpose and fulfillment, positively influencing both performance and wellbeing.

Company culture is especially important during periods of uncertainty, like when the company is experiencing significant changes or economic difficulties. According to a Great Place to Work report, companies with great cultures have three times better stock market performance than those that do not.

A company with a strong culture can adapt more quickly and weather these types of problems better, giving their employees more confidence in their future. Therefore creating a sense of community through culture should be at the top of the leadership agenda.