Culture is all around us; it’s at the core of every group we belong to, from our families to our cities to our nations, holding us together like glue. The shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that come with cultures not only foster social cohesion but also determine what an organization is capable of achieving.
From the forward-thinking, cosmopolitan culture that gave birth to the Renaissance to the ethnocentric, nationalistic cultures that kicked off World War II, it’s clear that a society’s mission, and how they go about fulfilling that mission, can create profound impacts on the world.
While this is true for countries and continents, it’s relevant for economic entities as well.
Defining Corporate Culture
The idea of corporate culture became prevalent in the 1990s, when managers, sociologists, and other academics began to describe companies in terms of their generalized beliefs, behaviors, company-wide values, management strategies, employee relations, work environments, and attitudes. As time progressed, this idea has become increasingly popular.
In essence, a corporation’s culture comes from how it defines its mission, what its expectations are for fulfilling that mission, and how it goes about achieving its goals. Culture usually disseminates from the top-down, with strong leaders setting the tone for the rest of the employees.
However, it’s not just one leader who defines the culture. Rather, it’s how that leader orchestrates the diverse personalities within the company to work harmoniously and bring out the best in one another. It is the intricate interplay between the philosophies and methodologies of each employee as they work towards a common mission that truly creates the corporate culture.
“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.” — Sir Ken Robinson
Corporate Culture Today
Today, with the Millennial generation placing greater emphasis on the holistic value of companies that they work for and buy from, the concept of corporate culture is more relevant than ever. Members of this generation want to gain satisfaction from their work, making a meaningful contribution to the world and feeling good while doing so.
In fact, on average, Millenials are willing to give up $7,600 in salary each year to engage in more purposeful work and a better company culture.
One reason for this generational shift is that Millennials are dismayed by the irresponsible corporations that preceded them, which created huge issues including environmental degradation and income disparity. As such, Millennials are well aware that idiosyncratic and capricious environments lead to both a lack of sustainability and profitability over time.
The Benefits of a Strong Corporate Culture
Due to the strong preference for meaningful work among Millennials, businesses that are mission-driven and synergistic in working towards their goals are more likely to attract the best talent that this new generation has to offer.
Having a strong corporate culture also encourages buy-in from workers. This allows for bottom-up development where employees are more likely to share with their unique perspectives, participate in mentoring, and engage in succession planning.
Creating a meaningful corporate culture generates a strong foundation of loyal employees, which in turn helps organizations become more resilient. This quality is especially important amidst uncertain times where disruption is becoming the norm. With an enthusiastic work-force, a company can work proactively to evolve its culture to suit the economic needs of the times and stay ahead of the curve.
Overall, refining your corporate culture is a must for all 21st-century businesses. If all organizations make this a priority, as time moves forward, strong organizational cultures will not only positively shape economic outcomes for corporations, but they will have an uplifting effect on the cultures of nations as well.