Culture shock

Creating a strong company culture is more than just a touchy-feely HR initiative; it can make or break a company’s fortunes. Organisations with a culture aligned with company goals consistently outperform others.

A study last year by Sirota Survey Intelligence, for example, found that firms with high staff morale saw stock price rise by an average 19.4 per cent compared to an average eight per cent by others in the same industry. Stock price at companies identified as having low morale grew by 10 per cent compared to others in the same industry that climbed 19 per cent.

Good culture is simply good business. Increasing numbers of firms are recognising the power of the simple formula that happy, motivated employees will produce happy customers and swelling profits. These companies are focusing their efforts on creating an environment that attracts and keeps top-notch staff.

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“There’s a real recognition that in most areas it is very hard to compete on what you offer, as the speed of knowledge transfer and product advantage is very short lived. How you relate is where competitive advantage comes in,” says Dr Peter Hawkins, founder and chairman of the organisational change company, Bath Consultancy Group.

What culture means

The dictionary will tell you that culture is about the values and behaviours shared by a group. What that basically boils down to is ‘the way things are done around here’.

Every company has its own unique culture and sub-cultures, just as every individual is made up of a cocktail of traits that form their personality. In the same way as we subconsciously form opinions of a person’s character pretty much before they have uttered so much as a grunt, we also absorb all kinds of details when we walk into a company or department for the first time that colour our impressions. We will pick up whether people are dressed formally or casually, whether there is a hushed silence with people bent over their desktops or animated chatter.