The importance of organizational culture

Sam Milbrath
By Sam Milbrath
July 12, 2018

Before we dive into the importance of organizational culture (or corporate culture), let’s get on the same page by defining it. Culture, as we all know, is a set of beliefs, characteristics, values, practices, and traits shared among people in a certain time and place. Corporate culture is no different. It defines the very nature of an organization, helping shape the values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs among employers and employees. If an organization’s culture is strong enough, it can attract like-minded talent, customers, partners, brand ambassadors and so on (but we’ll get into that shortly).

What makes a great organizational culture?

Harvard Business Review once wrote about the six components of a great corporate culture. Here are the top takeaways as they relate to us:

  1. Vision: Vision gives people a strong sense of purpose, allowing everyone (employees, employers, customers, and brand followers alike) to rally behind something they believe in.
  2. Values: Values are core to a company’s culture. They incorporate peoples’ collective beliefs, characteristics and support the vision or mission.
  3. Practice: How does the company practice what they preach? This relates to how employees and clients are treated and to daily practices and how the business runs.
  4. People: Organizations need champions who embody the corporate culture, sharing core values and putting them into action everyday.
  5. Narrative: These are stories that support the vision, values, practices, and people behind a business or brand. The narrative captures the essence of any corporate culture and is memorable, easily shareable and inspirational.
  6. Place: Whether a physical workplace, office location, design, or architectural aesthetic, or even website, the place impacts the people and the way the culture is portrayed to the world.

Take Foodee, for example. Our vision is to become the most reliable source of great food for the office. Our core values are that we own, we grow and we deliver. We put this into action by being individually responsible for our collective success, adapting and learning together as a growing team and delivering a quality experience. We also believe in only supporting local, owner-operated restaurants, being knowledgeable food experts and understanding company culture. Everyone who partners with Foodee contributes to or believes in our vision and values. We share our story through the eyes of Foxee, who supports local, sustainable restaurants and delivers great food to growing companies. Lastly, our offices are open, collaborative and fun workspaces, which support our grassroots beginnings.

Why is organizational culture important?

Having a strong, unified company culture helps people identify with a company, understand the brand image and stay with the company. This goes for employees, employers, customers and brand followers alike.

Employees who work at a rich organizational culture often understand and embody the vision, values, practices and stories told. They’re a part of a team with a mission and they want to help the company succeed.

It’s no wonder that many statistics show that a company’s culture has a direct impact on an employee’s effort, commitment, happiness and productivity levels. This then trickles down to affect the quality of a company’s products, services and, of course, success.

Unhappy employees often do the bare minimum, feel unappreciated, underwhelmed and uninspired. Plus, they’re costly. Unhappy employees cost American businesses over $300 billion each year. With just 36.7 percent of employees engaged at work, turnover rates will continue to rise until companies improve their culture.

Improving your corporate culture

Over the next few months, we’ll share some tips to help you assess and improve your organizational culture. Some upcoming blog topics include “team building with food,” “employee engagement ideas for the summer” and “company culture ideas to start doing right now.”

Consider looking at your vision and value statements. See how clearly they’re embedded into your company and brand messaging. Observe the way you do business and how you do business with (and where) to see if your practices, people and place match your values and vision. If your values include being environmentally-friendly, but your workplace isn’t green, that could be a practice that’s hurting your vision and values—and your employees and customers may be the first to notice.

Is your sales team telling the same story that your customer service or marketing team is telling? Get your vision story straight, share it with the world and see how that excites people. It’s probably already there, just waiting to be told.

Sam Milbrath

About Sam

Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and content marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands, she's working on her first novel or exploring nature. Check out her work at www.sammilbrath.com

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