Your quick guide to define and implement your company culture [incl. template]
7 mins read
Thu, Dec 1, '22
What's company culture?
Do you want to attract the right talent to your company? Or do you want to create an inspirational handbook to motivate your employees? Whatever your goal is, formalizing your company culture in a strategy doc can help to showcase your organization's vision, core values and mission.
A well-defined company culture can be essential to the growth and longevity of your organization, but there’s more to company culture than just a simple mission and vision statement. A good company culture strategy doc serves as a reference point for how your organization works on a daily basis; from the type of candidates you hire, to the employee onboarding process, and even to the clients you work with.
So, are you ready to start creating a company culture strategy doc for your organization? This guide will outline all the important sections you should include in your company culture template. But before we do that, let’s refresh ourselves on the definition of company culture.
In short, company culture is the culmination of the values, beliefs, goals, ethics and attitudes that characterize an organization. Company culture is the north star that guides how an organization and its employees work on a daily basis.
While an organization’s core values, perks and benefits, and working environment can all contribute to company culture, a successful company culture is more than just ping pong tables and favorable vacation days. It’s when all your employees live and breathe your core values, understand the expectations, and work productively and happily.
The importance of company culture
So why is company culture so important to the success of an organization? It’s because building a strong company culture can have a positive impact on recruitment, employee retention and most importantly, business performance.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “happy employees make happy customers”. Well, when it comes to company culture: happy employees = happy company. It goes without saying that if an employee works for a company that aligns with their own values and beliefs, they’ll be more likely to work hard and stick around for longer.
In fact, research shows that culture-driven companies have 40 percent higher levels of employee retention. It’s also no surprise that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability when compared to their peers.
Template: what to include in a company culture strategy?
Now we’ve established that there’s a clear link between culture and performance, let’s jump right into everything you should to include in a company culture strategy doc, so you can start creating your own.
Apple was created in a garage in California, Nike operated out of the trunk of a car, Starbucks started out just selling coffee beans. While your organization’s origin story and evolution might seem insignificant to you, showcasing your humble beginnings and raison d'être can inspire your employees and prospective applicants.
Everyone’s company history is unique, but there are three key elements that you should include when drafting yours:
- The reason why your company was started
- A short description of the founder(s)
- Company highlights or important turning points
Take Starbucks’ company history as an example. The coffee company takes a storytelling approach to its company history and includes the three elements mentioned above. Alternatively, you can also create a more simplified company history by creating a visual timeline that outlines your company’s journey.
As we mentioned earlier, a mission statement is not the same as your company culture. However, a powerful, one-sentence mission statement can give people a taste of your company culture, including the reason why you exist and the change you’re trying to make in the world.
To use Starbucks as an example again, its mission statement is as follows:
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
If you don’t have a mission statement yet, you can create one by answering the following three questions:
- What does your organization do? (Purpose)
- What does your organization stand for? (Values)
- What is your organization trying to accomplish or how does it help customers? (Goals
In the following section of your company culture strategy doc, you should list your organization’s core values. Even if you haven’t put your values down on paper, you probably have an idea of what you stand for and what you expect from your employees.
Remember, core values are principles that guide your company’s actions and set the expectations of how people should behave day-to-day.
Take Happeo’s culture code, for example:
- We embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.
- We aim for greatness, consistently pushing ourselves to achieve the highest standards and leave a lasting, positive impact.
- We refuse to settle for mediocrity and strive to improve continuously.
- We recognize the importance of working together to achieve exceptional results.
- We acknowledge that collaboration leads to outcomes that exceed individual achievement.
- We foster an environment of trust and support that empowers us to reach our full potential.
Exceed Customer Expectations
- We keep our customers at the heart of everything we do.
- We consider the long-term needs and preferences of our customers in every interaction and decision.
- We consistently provide high-quality experiences for our customers, ensuring that every interaction reflects our commitment to excellence.
- We assume responsibility and accountability for our words, actions, decisions, and outcomes.
- We acknowledge our own roles in contributing to the success of the team and the organization.
- When we identify a problem, we come to the table with solutions, even if they are outside of our own scope.
- We focus our efforts on what truly matters.
- We identify critical elements and prioritize them.
- We ensure that our time and resources are directed towards the most significant and impactful areas.
In this section, it’s time to define the aspirational goal your organization is working towards. This doesn’t mean revenue targets or KPIs, but more what you want to achieve in the long term.
Here are a few examples:
- Microsoft: “To help people throughout the world realize their full potential”
- Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”
- Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”
These goals might sound overly ambitious, but that’s the point. They’re designed to be motivating and inspirational, as well as reflective of the company’s culture and core values.
As your company grows, you might begin to open new offices in different cities or even countries. This section of the company culture template will serve as a blueprint for how your offices should look and feel.
Besides the decor and the color scheme, you should define the general layout of the office. For instance, if teamwork and collaboration are core cultural values, then you should design spaces that enable collaboration such as common areas and meeting rooms.
Generating feedback on company culture
Once you’ve drafted your company culture strategy doc, it’s crucial to get direct feedback from your employees. One way to generate feedback is by sending a company culture survey to everyone in the organization.
The main purpose of this survey is to understand your employees’ perception of your company culture. One way to structure your survey is by listing a couple of statements reflective of your company culture and asking your employees to rate them from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
Some examples include:
- Our company culture prioritizes teamwork and collaboration
- I am able to maintain a healthy work-life balance
- The company is committed to my personal and professional development
Finally, you could ask employees to describe your company culture in one or two words, and see if the most popular responses match your values.
How to implement your company culture
Once you’ve finalized your company culture strategy doc and implemented employee feedback, you can start creating concrete policies and practices to make sure your organization lives and breathes your company culture day-to-day.
Here are three things you can do to change company culture:
1. Set practical goals
Core cultural values such as trust and openness can be quite abstract, but you can set tangible goals to help your organization realize them. For example, you could make sure that managers have monthly or bi-monthly “open door” meetings with their teams, which allows employees to voice their opinions and concerns. Additionally, if you want to enable teamwork and collaboration, you could set a goal to redesign the office by the end of the year.
2. Hire the right people
Hiring for cultural fit has been a hot topic in recent years, but how exactly can you make sure a candidate is aligned with your company culture? The first step is making sure that your company culture is clearly showcased on all the touchpoints a potential candidate has with your company prior to applying. Most of the time this will be your company website, social media channels, and vacancies.
During the interview process, it’s important to ask questions about personal values and what drives them. You can also set up multiple interviews with other team members to give opinions on if the candidate is a good cultural fit.
3. Review your HR systems
Most of the time, company culture and HR policies are inextricably linked. For instance, if employee well-being is an important cultural value, is taking time off to rest and recharge encouraged? Do you offer a suitable amount of vacation days? Do you provide healthy lunches or gym memberships?
If rewarding hard work is part of your culture, do you have a rewards or benefits system in place? Or is there a space to give praise to team members? As you can see, small changes to your HR systems and policies can show that you’re walking the talk when it comes to company culture.