In the age of the internet, consumers have access to a host of information about companies and their products and services. The content an organization produces, its social media profiles and interactions, and even its website design say a lot about that organization’s mission and values. With so much easily accessible and digestible material at their disposal, consumers can be choosy about whom they do businesses with, and are likely to support organizations that share their ideals. For this reason, organizations need to make the effort to establish and reinforce a strong company culture.
In the words of Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, a thriving company culture helps to “humanize” a brand, and it also provides clients with a sense of unity with the business. Kramer goes on to say that businesses should capitalize on this phenomenon in their content marketing strategies. Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh takes this concept a step further by saying “your culture is your brand.” Every piece of content that an organization creates should reflect its culture, as having a strong culture is an affordable way to promote your organization and gain a following. Organizations can utilize traditional advertising channels, as well as social media and digital marketing channels, to market their culture.
How can an organization go about establishing a solid company culture if it hasn’t done so already? Consider the following statement: “Building company culture is as much about employee engagement as it is about the reinforcement of the umbrella vision or goals set by high level leaders.” In other words, a strong culture will encompass the organization’s founding principles and involve its employees. Harvard Business Review contributor John Coleman proposes six characteristics that constitute a compelling company culture; These are: vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place.
Vision refers to a set of ideals that give organization with purpose, such as a mission statement. Managers can share relevant content with their employees that coincides with an organization’s vision for reinforcement. Such content could consist of pertinent blog posts and articles, or even humerous e-cards. Values are guidelines for behavior that align with an organization’s vision. Coleman writes that the originality of organizational values is less important than their authenticity. Practices represent values put into action; They need to exist in an organization’s daily operations in order for its culture to truly thrive.
People are simply the members of an organization, including its leadership. Organizations with healthy cultures are made up of employees who love their work. Keep engagement levels high and make employees feel valued by including them in any decisions that affect their job functions. It is important to recruit people who embrace your organization’s vision, as they will be more productive and likely to spread positivity than those who don’t. Hiring people who believe in an organization’s vision will also keep turnover rates low.
An organization’s narrative is the unique story it crafts based on its history. Identifying and retelling an organization’s narrative helps to keep its culture alive. Finally, place indicates the physical environment where employees work. How employees perform their daily activities will certainly be affected by the setting they find themselves in. Place plays a role in culture because different work environments facilitate different types of employee interactions. As discussed above, practices are the manifestation of organizational values. For example, employees that work individually in cubicles may not be inspired to work with each other whereas open-forum type of offices encourage collaboration. Together, these six components serve as a foundation for an organization’s culture.
The benefits of having a formidable company culture include a strengthened brand image, increased employee engagement, and better goal alignment. Because every organization is unique, each one has to form its own culture organically and cannot simply adopt the culture of another organization. Consumers will be able to see through the fluff. If your organization’s culture is a true representation of its vision and values, consumers who identify with those ideals with come flocking.
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