The start of the New Year for many heralds a period of self-reflection; it signals the desire for new goals, new habits and sometimes includes a new chapter in the form of a new job. When considering a new job, what do you look out for? Are you swayed by a swanky salary, a bonus and bountiful benefits package or is it the job description, or maybe even the company culture? Over the years, I can genuinely say that company culture has never been at the top of my list, or actually even featured. After all, it only became more than just a buzzword during the ‘‘10s’, so it’s unlikely I would have ever appreciated the real significance of company culture to overall job satisfaction in the workplace, until I started at Wildwood Ecology.
Of course, different generations will have different motivational factors for being attracted to certain organisations and certain types of careers. The youngest generations of workforce, Gen Z, are clear to recognise the values they seek in an ideal employer. They tend to be attracted to companies with a vision and values similar to their own, where employee wellbeing is a consideration and personal development is actively supported. Financial stability is obviously up there in importance but finding a balance between work and personal life is equally important, and the freedom to explore their creativity with a high degree of autonomy is desirable. We also know older generations, Gen Y and Xers, are more open to career switching beyond 50 (read my interview with Ian Weller here), and value jobs that might enable them to learn a new skill or perhaps align work with hobbies and interests. But whatever age you are, at whatever point you are in your career, one thing that’s clear – company culture counts in 2022.
According to HR software giant, Breathe, company culture is everything to a flourishing business.
“We know that good company culture involves trust, respect, and the opportunity for employees to participate in shared values and love what they do.
It’s something that develops organically from the top down. It isn’t something a business can buy in, though there are many means that can help, such as systems and consultants. In our opinion, company culture is like an ecosystem that needs to be nurtured in order to thrive.”
It’s no wonder that Wildwood are quietly so very good at this company culture thing, when it clearly involves growing organically and nurturing ecosystems to support flourishing!
“Great company culture sets the foundations for real, tangible business growth. It’s based on honest, productive conservations and helps companies to identify issues and collectively form resolutions”. Aimee O Callaghan, Breathe HR
So, what does great company culture actually look like?
Company culture creates expectations, a set of standards and behaviours to which it wants its employees to adhere. Of course, you can’t truly understand the company culture until you work there for a period of time, although you can gain a fairly decent idea from the job description and person specification, the website and from meeting others who work there. It may be the difference between running yourself ragged working hours that may not fit with the rest of your life, to being able to do the school run, take a walk at lunchtime or work from home, and achieve a work-life balance that makes you feel in control. It’s the difference between feeling invisible and feeling valued or feeling like an imposter and feeling like a respected member of a team. It’s the difference between feeling you are contributing to something worthy of contributing to, rather than feeling you are just contributing.
What’s the point of great company culture?
In recent research carried out by Breathe HR, whereby 500 SME senior decision makers in the UK were asked if they believed workplace culture impacts positively on company performance, 72% believed company culture does have a positive impact.
The positive impacts were as follows:
- Increased morale, atmosphere and relationships (69%)
- Employees willing to go the extra mile (61%)
- Better customer service, customer satisfaction and customer retention (60%)
- Improved individual performance and productivity (55%)
- Reduced employee turnover (49%)
- More people contribute ideas and support innovation (49%)
- Reduced absenteeism (45%)
Great company culture breeds loyalty and trust. Trust is granted, not earnt – once granted it’s then up to us, as employees, to demonstrate we’re worthy of that trust. By granting trust, it’s an effective way of the company demonstrating it has confidence it in its employees, it believes in them: it believes they will follow through and deliver. Furthermore, it has the ability to instil good habits across the team and create a powerful motivational force for good.
If there is an expectation to perform a certain task in a certain way, even though it may seem unnecessarily arduous, or just unnecessary, if everyone in the organisation is doing it that way, it becomes the only accepted way to do it. If the company can create this kind of environment, a culture can enhance not only the way you work, but possibly how you manage other aspects of your life too.
Certainly, Wildwood’s mantra is about finding a way and doing the right thing, by its clients, by the planet and by its employees.
In our end of year staff survey, again an opportunity to have a voice, we were asked to come up with three words that best describe Wildwood’s culture. It’s not a difficult ask; it’s very clear to me and I came up with the following.
Different – Wildwood is most certainly different, it’s different to anywhere I’ve worked; the main difference being the culture!
Positive – Being surrounded by individuals who share a ‘glass half-full’ outlook on life is infectious as omicron in the workplace. There are always challenges to overcome, no matter where you are, whatever your position, whether you find yourself in the midst of a global pandemic or you arrive at work to find no milk in the fridge. A ‘can-do’ culture and a shared commitment to finding solutions collectively is incredibly refreshing.
Empowering – A new word for me for 2022, but yes Wildwood culture empowers people, whether it’s empowering clients by educating them in the best approach to a sustainable project or empowering its employees to take responsibility for their personal development and accountability within the company. People are empowered when they are trusted to do their job and when they are allowed to take risks and learn from mistakes. Feedback and praise are super important too, we’re human after all. Wildwood nurtures its people to help them grow, to do the right thing and create positive outcomes that in turn benefit others.
If by reading this, you think there has been some form of coercion or there is a hidden marketing objective here, you’d be mistaken. Wildwood is genuinely a little bit different; a small (ish) consultancy that punches well above its weight, big B Corp ideas to boot, and one that lives so true to its values it’s impossible not to be inspired.
Lucy Larkman, Marketing Manager