Why culture is key to business success.

Client Relationship Director, Emma Collins, talks about the importance of business culture

We are really starting to see an increase in business leaders talking about and taking culture seriously and as such it’s earned an important place on the boardroom agenda. But what has made business leaders finally sit up and listen?

With unemployment being at its lowest in decades and staff retention rates rapidly declining, the power has reverted from employers to employees. Millennials have been a major driver in the transition of workplace culture and are demanding more from their employers than ever before. Today, with such public and social access to an employee brand, if you’re not a ‘great place to work’ you’ll be found out very quickly and risk losing talent to a competitor who offers the all-important culture that millennials are actively seeking.

The results of the annual or bi-annual employment surveys are often the result of many a sleepless night for Internal Comms professionals whose KPI’s usually feature targets for ‘engagement’ and ‘retention’. This can often be a soul-destroying experience for them when their gut tells them that the culture and energy of their organisation is ‘not quite right’. So, the big question is, how do businesses get it right?

Culture isn’t something that can be ‘fixed’ overnight and to a certain extent it’s not something that can be learnt. It’s behaviour, values, rewards, rituals, office environment and I know it sounds naff but it’s a ‘feeling’. You can ‘feel’ culture of an organisation when you walk in – just by observing how people treat you, the space that people work in and the energy around you.

Culture has to originate somewhere, it doesn’t just happen. It is the leader’s responsibility to identify a cultural vision for the company, live and breathe it themselves, and then help to steer the rest of the company in the right direction. Culture is something that needs to move like osmosis through the business – yes, it needs to come from the top, but it also needs to move sideways, upwards, downwards, inward and outward.

The overwhelming feeling since I’ve joined Top Banana is the sense of ‘I’ve got your back’ and relentless trust in each other. It’s also a place full of energy – energy in skill, in collaboration, in focus for a common goal, in support, in communication. Everyone is on the same page and that, I believe, is down to four things: –

  • Clarity, transparency and simplicity in the company vision – Everyone knows what we’re aiming for, what they’ve got to do to get there and the reward they’ll get when we achieve it. Simple.
  • Genuine care for its people – We feel valued, we are respected and trusted and we don’t let each other down.
  • Communication – the Top Banana way – We use channels that we encourage our clients to use and we practise what we preach – it is consistent, timely and relevant.
  • An inspirational space to work in – Whether it’s the barn in Broome or the office in the Leather Market in London the space we work in centres around collaboration, inspirational design and our people.

It’s not a coincidence that the top performing global companies are also the ones that are culture driven. The working generation have high expectation for their work and life balance and the notion of ‘working to live’ rings so true for so many of us. The saying ‘take care of your people and they will take care of your customers’ should be a regular reminder to those at the top of any organisation.

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