Why Culture Matters
The word culture as it pertains to an organization has been a hot topic for many business experts in recent years. Though many definitions of culture exist, anthropologists state that societies that flourish have “cultures” where groups have shared beliefs, customs, rituals, language and myths. Organizations are like mini-societies and as Edgar Schein, PhD, a corporate culture expert, states, “culture is the hidden force that drives most behaviors, both inside and outside the organization”. Essentially, organizational culture is how an organization is personified by its beliefs and values displayed by employees and leadership alike.
The first question asked in the focus groups was “what does culture mean to you?”. The responses varied among the employees but the general feeling was that culture to most is the “vibe and feeling” one has about their workplace. This statement adequately reflects what truly defines culture for employee perceptions about their place of work which will dictate their performance, passion and loyalty. A strong organizational culture is one where employee wellbeing goals are aligned with organizational values, vision and mission. Research by Gallup and others state that employees who feel valued and appreciated are likely to be more engaged and give 100% to their work and to the organization. These employees tend to be more physically and emotionally healthy as well.
Unfortunately, the sad truth about the workplace is that just 30% of employees are actively committed to doing a good job. According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report, 50% of employees merely put their time in, while the remaining 20% act out their discontent in counterproductive ways, negatively influencing their coworkers, missing days on the job, and driving customers away through poor service. Gallup estimates that the 20% group alone costs the U.S. economy around half a trillion dollars each year.
High-performing companies place culture as the top of their list. Powerful leadership, emphasis in employee wellbeing and company culture is crucial to employee performance. These, together are recognized as perfect conditions for organizational success. The right culture can make all the difference for all stakeholders; the organization, the employees and the customers.