One of the most complex tasks any growing business faces involves building and maintaining a strong corporate culture. Any company is only good as its internal elements, and some experts claim that culture can account for up to 30% of the difference between high-performance and disengaged organizations.

It’s not easy to hire (let alone, retain) employees that will both support your corporate culture, along with help your business to grow through advocacy and exceptional productivity. Many businesses are still trying to find their corporate culture definition, and the result is a loss of $11 billion each year in rehiring and retraining costs.

So, how can you create a professional environment that attracts, retains, and engages key talent?

What is Corporate Culture?

Creating the perfect workplace environment begins with answering the question: “What is corporate culture?”

First and foremost, corporate culture should align with your strategy for engaging your workforce. It refers to the shared attitudes, values and beliefs that people within an organization embrace in the pursuit of a mutual goal. For corporate culture to thrive, it needs to be implemented consistently throughout the entire company—from management practices to customer service solutions.

Research shows that positive company culture leads to stronger employee engagement, subsequently boosting performance, motivating teams, and even attracting new talent to the workforce. Corporate culture is also essential for building a positive brand identity, launching employee advocacy, delighting customers and ensuring long-term staff retention.

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Quick Tips for Corporate Culture

A strong understanding of corporate culture helps businesses to perform at their peak. When every employee shares the same goals and values, productivity and advocacy naturally improve. Your team becomes more engaged because they know what they need to do, why they need to do it, and how to go about doing it—ensuring the best strategy for success.

Some simple tips for better corporate culture include:

1. Work from the Top Down

Up to 89% of workers who feel supported by executives are likely to recommend their workplace to someone in their network. Corporate culture is a practice that needs to be nurtured from the top of the organizational ladder. Managers and leaders must demonstrate the values they want their employees to incorporate. In fact, 35% of Millennials believe strong leadership is essential to good culture.

2. Learn to Listen

Employees want to feel heard within a business. That’s why companies like WordPress frequently hold meetings where lower-level employees and managers can share ideas and brainstorm together. It’s important to get people who might not have many opportunities to work together in the same room from time to time, as it helps spark ideas that otherwise may never have surfaced. Give your employees a place to share their thoughts and opinions. 75% of employees will stay longer at a business that recognizes their concerns.

3. Hire Carefully & Collaborate Often

Shaping the perfect corporate culture begins with a close consideration of the people you hire. It’s crucial for HR and talent acquisition to be precise about who they choose to bring on board. During the interview stage, make sure that you establish each candidate’s long-term vision for their career. You could even collaborate with existing workers and ask them to suggest people within their own social circle for new positions.

4. Communication is Critical

Making sure that you effectively communicate the values and vision of your company to your staff is crucial. This will create a shared goal that your employees can use in their advocacy efforts, and shift the average mindset to one of business-wide collaboration. Remember, 86% of employees consider a lack of collaboration or poor communication to be the cause of workplace problems.

5. Embrace Feedback

When it comes to finding your corporate culture definition, remember that top-down management doesn’t work for the modern workplace. You need to be open-minded to whatever your workers have to say about your business. Create an open-door policy for sharing ideas and concerns, and make sure that your employees receive regular feedback too. Of the 68% of employees who receive consistent, accurate feedback feel satisfied in their job positions.

Corporate Culture Examples to Learn From

While you should never simply try to paste another company’s corporate culture into your own workplace environment, it can be helpful to examine the engagement efforts of other businesses for inspirational purposes. Let’s take a look at three corporate culture examples to inspire your own internal strategies.

1. Zappos

One of the most frequently cited corporate culture examples. Footwear company Zappos may be more renowned for its corporate culture than the shoes it sells. Zappos starts their strategy for cultural success at the hiring stage, where they use cultural-fit interviews to determine whether a new employee should be hired. Those employees are then offered $2,000 to quit after the first week if they feel the job isn’t right for them. Those who choose to stay learn the ten key company values, and pay increases are dished out according to which employees exhibit exceptional performance and skill tests.

2. Twitter

Employees at Twitter are constantly commenting on their corporate culture. From friendly teams, to rooftop meetings, Twitter’s workforce experiences a fun, free and innovative approach to business. Whether it’s free meals, yoga classes or unlimited vacation, Twitter sets itself apart as a place to combine work and passion. Employees love doing something that “matters”, and are fully devoted to getting the job done – whatever the challenge might be.

3. REI

Finally, a company for outdoor enthusiasts, REI have built a cooperative culture based on a strong appreciation of their employees. REI believes that company success comes down to happy employees, which is why they give their workers a range of benefits, from challenge grants that allow them to win free equipment, to outdoor events. Additionally, regular town hall-style meetings allow staff to share their thoughts and questions with executives throughout the company.

Mistakes to Avoid When Cultivating Corporate Culture

While the right corporate culture can help you to transform your business into a place that’s more engaging, productive and efficient, the wrong practices could destroy employ confidence, damage your reputation and increase staff turnover. Make sure you avoid the following mistakes in your strategy.

1. Building a Team Without Planning

Setting the tone for corporate culture is something that you’ll need to do at every level in your company. That means that you need to be cautious about how—and when—you bring new people into the organization. Make sure that you choose new candidates who have the same ambitions, goals and key characteristics you need for your business. Not only will this help to keep everyone on the same path to success, but it should improve corporate culture, too.

2. Creating a Culture Rooted in Fear

While fear can easily motivate your workforce, it’s not necessarily the best way to achieve success. Fear impairs performance by causing your staff to question everything they do. When fear is at the heart of your corporate culture, you’ll find you end up with more employees taking sick days, more internal stress, and fewer chances for innovation, as creativity is smothered by anxiety. Make sure that your corporate culture is all about embracing new concepts, supporting your staff and making them feel comfortable at work.

3. Creating “Opaque” Lines of Communication

Finally, great corporate culture thrives on transparency. It’s hard to encourage employee advocacy and engagement among staff members who know nothing about how your business is doing. If your employees are all shut into their own private silos, with no insight into the bigger company picture, they’re going to feel uncomfortable working for you. Make sure your vision is universal.

Finding your Corporate Culture

In a world where 87% of employees remain disengaged at work, corporate culture is the salve that can repair poor relationships in the workforce, reduce turnover, and deliver highly-engaged employees committed to helping their company thrive.

Corporate culture isn’t something that “just happens”. It’s a process that’s carefully planned, implemented and analyzed to help a business thrive. A well-oiled corporate culture is like a family, delivering a welcoming environment that supports intuition, initiative and overall company goals.