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Cultural Studies: 3 reasons why organizational culture is important

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Culture is very important for the smooth running of any company.

Note: this post was taken from my upcoming book: Startup Monday, Available on Amazon, Google Books and other places where books are sold.

Formulating a consistent and unique corporate culture is important for many reasons. Culture can help shape the public narrative of your organization, therefore making it easier, if you have a non-toxic culture and a reputation that says so, to attract new talent.

Hiring managers and other talent acquisition professionals will tout you/your company as one of their clients and will funnel the brightest minds to interview with your firm. They will do so gladly as this will help them gain a virtuous reputation among their peers and clients. Since folks will come to work for you for more reasons than just your offer salary, cultivating a culture reputation that precedes you will help reduce the cost to acquire and retain talent. And these are just a few of the many reasons to build a positive, easy-to-work-for corporate environment. Culture goes far beyond " what it is like to work for your company". Culture is who you are as a company. What you do and how you do it.

This is or will come to be your DNA as a firm. Build one that is worthy of praise and you will see many profitable opportunities come your way. In the 21st century, it is not enough to simply have a superior and affordable product on the market. Consumers today want you, as a company to stand for something and make no secret about what you believe in.

They want you to weigh in on political matters and issues of social justice, to name a few. Only then will they trust you with their hard-earned dollars. Take Starbucks for example. The Seattle-based coffee house, over the last decade or so has built a reputation of having a welcoming, all-inclusive work environment.

They claim to treat their employees better than their close competitors in terms of pay and benefits, and they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to their position on issues like discrimination.

A year or so ago, when there was an incident at one of their Philadelphia stores involving an employee that was construed as racist and ethnically insensitive, the company moved quickly to dismiss that associate and later closed all their stores for a day to hold a company-wide day of training of their staff on racial sensitivity. Many Analysts calculated that this event cost the company an unexpected $12 million.

They tout their stance for equality and human rights as a prerequisite all over the globe for doing business with them. For folks who love their coffee, that little green cup represents so much more than just a java fix. No. To a true "Bucks head", that cup says, "I love and stand for freedom and human rights, I am a world traveler, lover of Angelique Kidjo and Fela Kuti's music".

You will have an easier time winning contracts with other organizations who pride themselves as only associating with firms of a certain pedigree. I am talking about government contracts, jobs with international, well-renowned NGOs, and many more.

Easy onboarding

Your Corporate culture can be the reason new hires adapt quickly to their new work environment. Your onboarding process can be made seamless if you already have an existing, shareable workplace culture. One that new hires can learn and rally around.

Writing in Forbes, George Bradt explains further: “People fail in new jobs because of poor fit, poor delivery or poor adjustment to changes down the road. Assuming you’ve aligned the organization around the need for your new employees and acquired them in the right way, your onboarding program should accommodate their needs (so they can do real work), assimilate them into the organization (so they fit culturally) and accelerate their progress (so they can deliver and adjust).”

Team building

Your company culture, believe it or not, can be one of the most powerful tools in your firm’s arsenal to help build a more connected work environment. And this powerful force works regardless of the physical location of all your employees. Most of us, humans, regardless of religion, race, language, and yes, culture have more in common than we think. We all want the same things, like the same kinds of music and movies no matter which country we grew up in or live.

Growing up, I was a big fan of Hip-hop music, despite the fact that I grew up in Ghana. I mean, for me, rap music was at its best in the days of Biggie, Old-school Nas, Lauren, Naughty by nature, Kris Kross. But then again, that’s what you say as you get older. You start to think everything seemed much better “back in the day”.

Anyway, I am getting off-topic here. My point is, we all share many commonalities in many aspects of our lives and building a corporate culture that accentuates these that we share will help, not only bring passionate folks together but help build a sense of togetherness among them.

Passionate employees

Passion is one of those words that is thrown around quite often. I used to cringe when folks – business partners, investors, associates, etc. Will start to talk to me about this and that person’s passion for whatever. For me, this became code for, “I am (momentarily) excited about this thing we are talking about, but I will cease to be interested in the next 24 – 48 hours”.

I have, over time gotten over my bitterness for those who, in my view, misuse the word. At the risk of sounding like a character from a Romcom, I think true passion exists. I also believe that the real thing has to be rooted in identifiable, intrinsic components. Things that hold true and dear to us. For example, most folks are passionate about their children, their significant others, food, culture, and so on.

All of these have a place in what we consider to be our identities. The things that make us who we are. These things mean something to us. Use this as the blueprint for constructing a corporate culture. Make sure you are ready and willing to include the things that your employees and associates will come to see as partly them. The elements of your corporate cultural tapestry that will be part of them, even when they move on. Oh, I don’t mean death. I mean when they leave to work elsewhere.

…in the end

These are just a few of the reasons you should seriously consider building a deliberate organizational culture. These are just a few ideas meant to help you get started on working on yours. I mean, truly think and consider carefully what your corporate culture will mean, look like, and most importantly, bring to the lives of those who work for you, do business with you, or interact with your brand in any way.

Perform, with your current employees, formal or informal surveys to help uncover what the folks who work for you now hold true and dear. Find out what they like and are passionate about and support those things. By doing so you will be on your way to creating a positively unique work environment.

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