Company Culture affects Employee Morale

“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated”. – Sir Richard Branson

Every company has some kind of a culture. It is the supposed norm by which certain behaviours and actions are considered acceptable or unacceptable. The ‘air’ or the company culture is not a written document but the general feel of the company often determines how people behave – status, rank and designation notwithstanding. It is the combined energies and behaviours of all in the company that determines the company culture and can either have a positive impact on employee morale or have disastrous consequences. For example – part of the culture of a retail giant’s office is that each employee should greet each other when they crossed each other anywhere. This is a great way to build a positive company culture. However, it was noticed that some key people would refuse to even acknowledge employees from lower rungs in the office, which in turn led to lowered morale and a disbelief in the values and so called culture in the office. A number of people that left the organization actually pointed this out in their exit interviews. It may seem insignificant but it left a deep impact. Company culture most definitely affects employee morale.

Establishing and sustaining a robust company culture is the responsibility of every company and is critical to its success too. We have discussed at length the importance and indispensability of a happy workforce. A company culture must be such that it is an actual investment towards raising employee morale. A survey conducted revealed that a whopping 66% of employees believe that the company culture makes or breaks it. The company culture must be a strong statement that clearly and concisely lets everyone know how the company runs, what it believes in, what each person can expect and what will never be acceptable as a standard. A confused company culture would send out mixed signals and lead to a host of problems like loss of reputation, market share, the dreaded customer and employee attrition and other such damaging situations.

Not having a proper company culture first and foremost affects the ‘first customers’ of the company – its employees. Employee morale is greatly reduced since they don’t seem to find meaning or purpose in whatever they do. They don’t have a sense of oneness or belonging as everyone seems to be at loggerheads. With a lack of company culture, people tend to form groups that have their own ‘cultures’ to guide them while blocking out those who don’t ‘belong’ in the group. Such divisions lead to friction and stress, leaving people to feel unwanted, disrespected and ultimately looking for a way out of the company.

To raise and sustain employee morale it would seem prudent to have clear, specified and established norms according to which people must conduct themselves. This is what company culture is about and lends a feeling of positivity and acceptability. Employee morale is sustained as they have a continued sense of purpose and belonging. They understand the value of working together cohesively in order to attain their personal goals and those of the company.  The company too is able to attract the ‘right’ employees for their company since only those people would seek employment that believe in the company’s established culture and it would be easier for them to adapt and display the expected behaviours. With lowered stress and a feeling of belonging, employees are more productive, more amenable to change and are able to think creatively and proactively and are happy in the knowledge that their contributions will be valued and rewarded. There is a better chance of responsive leadership to survive in a well-laid out company culture.

Some companies that struggle with establishing or getting people to comply with the company culture make it a point to conduct training, specialised programs and company-wide events to ingrain the company culture in their people. A well-established company culture provides the people with a set of beliefs that guide them in a common direction towards a mutual purpose. Employee morale remains high since they know what to expect and are confident that if they act in accordance with the prescribed culture, they would receive their fair share of growth, incentives, recognition and rewards. Company culture keeps people from erring by respecting authority, diversity, their co-workers and the overall ethos of the company. They are free to have their beliefs and support their ideologies as long as these are not cause of strife and conflict with management and their co-workers and also while interacting with the external customers and others.

Employees need to know that the company they work in has a ‘human side’ too. It is therefore imperative to keep the employee morale high by nurturing a spirit of unity, listening, caring and oneness. This is what building a company culture is all about. Without such culture it would be tough to gain commitment and loyalty of the employees or attract suitable talent. As employees exit, they take with them the skills and knowledge necessary for the company placing a lot of burden on the remaining employees. This in turn makes the remaining employees frustrated and disgruntled leading to more exits. By creating a strong and invincible company culture, a company ensures that employees support each other resulting in widespread commitment. Each one can motivate the other to keep going and with this unity can also ensure that the leadership pays attention to their needs and expectations.

The presence of a robust company culture forms the basis of uniform systems – for growth, remuneration, acceptable behaviour, business practices and other aspects can make a company.  Regular training, self-development and corporate social responsibility activities are also an inextricable part of the company culture in many companies and are also the reasons that people would like to be associated with your company. The company culture is also an unsaid instruction, a philosophy – and it provides the employees a complete understanding of their work environment – which is a rather settling and peaceful feeling.

A company culture provides each individual the independence since they know what is expected. So their behaviour will not need to be dictated by anyone – only guided by the values and systems of the company. Remaining within the guidelines on one’s own volition is always better than being forced and employee morale remains high when they know that they control their destiny within the company. They know that their future will brighten as the company succeeds and it is in their best interest to be part of the company culture rather than sticking out by non-compliance.

The culture of the company also holds up employee morale by having a set structure in the organization. Each person has clarity on their roles and responsibilities and is also aware of how their job contributes to the company culture as a whole. People are more appreciative of their co-workers, give their opinions equal consideration and through this collaborative approach, the chances of conflict and strife are lowered. The overall feel is one of trust, openness and willing effort. People tend to feel better about what they are doing and so work harder and smarter and tend to remain with the company for longer.

The crucial factor of establishing and making known your company culture is its communication. This is not essential only for your employees but for all those people who are associated with your company. Once you decide on the direction your company is to take, it must be made known to all through all channels of communication. Ensure that it is on a prominent place of your company’s website and social media sites and also spread around the office in ingenious ways so as to get everyone’s attention. To emphasize the importance of the company culture, hold company-wide events and stress the value of following the culture. As people begin to see the value and get aligned with the culture, they would be happier and their morale will remain at the optimum level.

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