I worked for a company in which the company culture was lauded. We had gatherings, games, ways to give back to the community, raffles, all kinds of vendors coming in to sell us all kinds of things at reduced rates, holiday lunches...
Problem: It didn't help morale - didn't stop attrition - didn't increase engagement.
Company culture is not a standalone effort. it is not a Band-Aid that can slapped over problems in order to make employees feel better about their dispiriting work conditions. So when is company culture "a thing"? When is it something to celebrate?
I once knew a hard-working, bright young woman who was hired to work at one of the largest firms in the world. The company was famous for its relaxed atmosphere, for providing all of the comforts of home while at work - from a gym to a laundromat. Free breakfasts. Help getting to and from work. Verrry chic!
I sent her an email, a week into her new gig, and I asked her how it was going! I was excited to hear how "the other half lived"! Disappointingly, she was unhappy and didn't think she would stay very long (she in fact left after 3 months).
"What happened???" I asked my friend.
"Well," she said, "there's a reason there is everything here you could need or would want to have at home, and that's because they expect you to work 14 hours a day! They expect you to basically live here. And there are no real upsides for giving your life to the company, so it just feels...bad!"
Company culture. Not a Band-Aid.
Judging a company's desirability on company culture alone is, therefore, a risky business. To get to the heart of whether a company's culture is truly representative of the day-to-day quality of life and work one can expect, we have to look to the birthplace, as it were, of a healthy company culture.
It comes from what the system allows the people in that business to feel.
If everyone feels respected, inspired, supported in growing in their work or even in changing or adding to the aspects of their work, treated like professionals, ahhh. If they feel fulfilled and that there is individual ownership of the nature of their work, you get exceptional company culture.
If people feel disrespected, that they're just working for a paycheck, that they have no autonomy in which to bring forth their inspiration, their ideas, or to contribute in any meaningful human way, that they are just performing a machine-like repetition day in and day out of activities that are never recognized as uniquely performed, you get terrible company culture.
Because human beings are not machines. Give us the room, the time, the support and the environment in which to flourish, and most of us will in fact flourish not just in our proscribed jobs but in bringing forth new perspectives, insights and ideas which change the company for the better. We begin to form a real community of individuals working together in service to a bigger and more meaningful goal.
Ignore our needs as adults, professionals and human beings, and two things occur:
Do you want to be known for having a true company culture? It doesn't come first. What does come first is your commitment to building a business based on wholeness and humanness. And if you are thinking, "But I don't know what that means...", that's actually a good sign. Now you can begin to play in the expansive fields of possibility, and invite the rest of your community to play - and build - with you.
To experience a wholeness model of team building, hiring, and more, schedule an appointment to speak with Lori Kirstein: PIChatbit.ly/30MinutePIChat. Lori is also available for speaking engagements and workshops.
Women's Leadership Coach and Speaker Lori is the author of Call Center Crazy and The Human Solution: Human Solutions to Every "Unsolvable" Business Problem,
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