A positive workplace culture focuses on your people, their personal productivity and it benefits the whole. A high-trust environment lets business leaders attract and retain high-performance individuals who perpetuate this culture, delivering business innovations that have, quite literally, changed the world. It is this productivity and innovation that cannot help but grow your business beyond the confines of any traditional model.

‘Happy employees are productive employees’ may be clichéd but in a modern business era, it has found form. When employees believe their contributions are valued and when they feel connected to a company’s values, a winning synergy is created between personal achievement and company goals.

When they are not aligned, or when it’s perceived the goal posts have been moved, the results can be unnerving.

Culture and perception

Late in November of this year, a Senior Content Strategist with a US tech giant resigned very publicly via an open letter to the CEO. She charged that the company’s pledge to work with the controversial US president-elect and his administration showed disregard toward its diverse employee base.

“I am not leaving for another offer, nor do I have a safety net to fall back on. What I do have is the knowledge that my own life — and those of the several hundred thousand who serve your company worldwide — are too valuable to waste at an organization where we are not respected.”

While not entirely calamitous, the tech giant’s share price dropped 5 points over the ensuing days and is yet to recover. In fairness, the CEO’s support was not a direct endorsement, rather it outlined bi-partisan steps the administration could make toward job creation. Unfortunately, the residue is dubious public sentiment and disquiet in the ranks. Such is the power of the value based synergies that underpin company culture.

Culture, reputation, and reward

Your staff’s behaviour is the expression of your company’s culture. Their behaviour is guided by your company values and resulting policies and it contributes to your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which in turn defines your brand… which is your Corporate Reputation. And as they say, reputation is everything.

Building a positive Corporate Reputation naturally attracts the best talent to your business, both locally and globally.

The buzz for 2016 has been around the emerging trend for star performers’ preference of great company culture over financial incentive alone. The non-negotiables for top candidates being exceptional leadership and work-life integration.

So a strong Corporate Reputation attracts, retains and fosters great talent, lowering your staff turnover. It provides leverage in salary negotiations and increases staff morale; the ‘starter-pack’ if you will of rewards for creating a great company culture. Other rewards include consumer confidence.

The Great Places To Work (GPW) list and the AMR Corporate Reputation Index (CRI) both acknowledge companies with progressive workplace cultures. Atlassian takes pole position for both 2014 and 2015 on the GPW list and in third place for this year’s tally, slightly behind Stryker (2) and Salesforce (1).

Aussie retail success story JB Hi-Fi tops the CRI for the second time in three years and continues its steady climb in share price; a complete reversal of where it was 12 years ago and a confirmation that the brand is incredibly well-liked and trusted by Australian consumers.

Culture and innovation; beyond ping pong tables

Great culture builds an unassailable confidence in your employees’ own abilities. And this fosters extraordinary talent.

Atlassian has their mandatory ShipIt Day every quarter. All staff are required to work on whatever they want for 24 hours. Or as rule 1 states: ‘Find what inspires you. Develop that dream feature. Smash your nemesis bug. Or, maybe just upgrade racks in the bike room.’

Likewise, Google employs a less formalised but similar tactic. The Google News tool was not a directive from management, rather it came as a personal solution from one of their research scientists.

“I thought it would be useful to see news reporting from multiple sources on a given topic assembled in one place.”

Krishna Bharat’s innovative response to September 11 forever altered the media landscape and enriched his company’s reputation. The innovation happened because of Google’s conviction in its policies and its employees; it happened because of Google’s conviction in its culture.

Great leadership and clear company values create a culture that feeds a talent pipeline for motivated and productive staff. The resulting productivity leads to innovation and growth. This amplifies your culture in a self-sustaining feedback loop that continues to reward top performers, who thrive in these environments… powering further growth. What business wouldn’t want that?

What is your company doing to enhance its workplace culture?

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