Some parts of a business require a lot of work, time, and focus to create and maintain. Others will happen whether you work at them or not. The biggest (and maybe most important) example of this is company culture. Think about it. We’re social creatures, and it is natural for us to function as a cooperative group. It’s something you see happen even in temporary groups, like people waiting to get on a bus or standing in line at the store. There’s an unspoken give and take, an acceptance (and sometimes disregard) for the norms of the situation. No one is discussing it, planning it, or even consciously directing it. But it happens.
The same thing happens in a business. With a group of people brought together to support a common cause for 40 or more hours a week, how could it not?
The question isn’t “Do we have a company culture?”, because the answer to that is always “Yes.” The question is “Do we have a company culture that supports our employees, our clients, and our business goals?” The answer to that question will determine everything from employee productivity to turnover rate. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, like IT, company culture can make all the difference in your business’s ability to thrive.
Starting at the Top
Actions speak louder than words.
We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but we rarely take the next step to understanding the implications of that simple truth.
Many businesses have instituted wellness programs to help support and encourage their employees in making healthier life choices. To the tune of $50 billion a year. This sounds like a lot of action in the right direction, so why isn’t it working? A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that these wellness programs haven’t increased workers’ health much at all. Or improved their experience at work.
This is because a policy or program can’t actually change company culture. Until it’s modeled by the leadership, it’s just empty words.
Setting the Example
Take a moment to think about what you’re modeling for your employees and coworkers. Are you answering emails late at night or well before work in the mornings? Do you skip lunches, rush from one meeting to the next, and cancel plans with your family on a regular basis? Are you showing up to work when you’re sick, injured, or exhausted?
The story we’re told is that you have to work hard to succeed, and sometimes that means sacrifice and struggle. This can certainly be true, and there’s nothing wrong with hard work and sacrifice. But is what you’re gaining worth what you’re giving up?
You have to remember that as the boss you set the tone. Your employees will follow your example, and you have to decide if this culture is sustainable, productive, and reflective of the business you want to create.
What You Value
One way to look at this is that it all comes down to what you value.
Do you want your employees at their desks for 8 hours a day, pushing regardless of what their actual level of productivity is?
Or do you want your employees working at their best, producing high quality work, regardless of whether that happens in 1 hour blocks or means they take a day off when they’re sick, have a family event, or just need to manage their stress level?
You have the opportunity to create a business that is both supportive and successful. Are you ready to do it?