What Makes a Good Organisational Culture?

Happy staff make for strong, successful companies. Learn about the ingredients of good organisational culture with this handy overview from ApplyDirect.

With most workers spending at least 40 hours a week on the job and often more time with their colleagues and managers than with friends and family, enjoying your job and getting along with colleagues is crucial to enjoying an overall decent quality of life. From an employer’s perspective, it also makes perfect business sense to foster an environment where staff are happy and committed – as countless studies have proven this leads to higher productivity and ultimately better long-term financial performance. Key to fostering a positive environment in any workplace of course is the ability for managers in collaboration with staff to create a solid and organic organisational culture. In fact, research by Harvard management professor James L. Heskett has found that company culture can “account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors”. So what exactly makes for a good organisational culture and how can you foster a high performance environment in your own workplace?

1. Having a Strong Purpose:

The first step to building a good organisational culture is to articulate a solid purpose for your organisation or its reason for being, ideally from the very beginning. This purpose, generally encapsulated in a ‘Mission Statement’ should provide a powerful reminder as your organisation grows of why you invested all that time, money and sweat in the first place. Using the example of a mechanic’s garage, it can be something as simple as “to provide reliable, affordable auto mechanic services to the motorists of Melbourne”. Having worked out your Mission Statement you may then decide to create a set of ‘Values’ which are basically a set of behaviours and guidelines to help you and your staff move closer to achieving your mission.

2. Hiring Staff with the Right 'Fit':

Given that organisations are organic entities shaped predominantly by the collective personalities and behaviours of their people, hiring staff to join your organisation with a positive, can-do predisposition and an overall ‘fit’ with the organisational culture you’d like to foster, is arguably the most critical step to get right. In some cases, employers may even opt to hire candidates based on their attitude and cultural fit above their ‘hard’ technical skills, given that whilst hard skills can always be learnt, attitude and personality are much more fixed variables.

3. Investing in Training & Development:

Having gone to the effort of finding and hiring staff who are a good cultural ‘fit’ with your organisation, training them and integrating them within your team, the last thing you want is to see them walk straight out the door due to better opportunities elsewhere and dissatisfaction with their job. Therefore, it goes without saying investing in staff training and development programs to update their skills and highlight a clear pathway to promotion and career advancement is crucial to not only improving workplace culture but also protecting your precious human resources.

4. Fostering Open Communication:

Keeping the pathways of communication within your organisation friendly and open goes hand in hand with both improved productivity and a strong organisational culture. Fostering open communication also goes to the heart of the type of organisation you’d like to become – with a workplace where employees feel the freedom to raise issues directly with management and share suggestions with their colleagues likely to be more innovative and ultimately successful. This is due to the benefits of debate, diversity of ideas and experimentation leading to better products and services – as demonstrated by many tech giants from Silicon Valley.

5. Letting Your Hair Down Every Now & Then:

Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of letting your hair down every now and then. Whilst you can take your job very seriously, sometimes it’s not healthy to always take yourself too seriously and your employees are likely to agree. Whilst busy workloads can make it difficult to schedule down time in the working week, simple activities like Friday night drinks, outdoor social days (in the warmer months of the year) and group trivia, karaoke or bowling are simple ways to have fun as a team, boost morale and ultimately strengthen company culture.

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