Whatever stage you’re at in your working life, you’ve probably heard of company culture. While this was once a niche phrase reserved for trendy startups, many companies today place a strong emphasis on culture, referencing it in everything from job descriptions to team meetings. Previously, company culture was all about in-person interactions – from bigger […]
Whatever stage you’re at in your working life, you’ve probably heard of company culture. While this was once a niche phrase reserved for trendy startups, many companies today place a strong emphasis on culture, referencing it in everything from job descriptions to team meetings.
Previously, company culture was all about in-person interactions – from bigger events like all-hands staff meetings and celebratory nights out to quotidian moments like a chat with a colleague over coffee. But factors like the pandemic and an increasingly youthful workforce have shaken up the IRL-heavy attitude to building culture in favour of a new approach: one focused on values, authenticity and individualisation.
As we move into this brave new world, is company culture still a priority? Here, we’ll attempt to answer the question… and try to determine what company culture really looks like in 2023.
What do we even mean by company culture?
It might be a familiar buzzword, but the true meaning behind company culture can be tricky to pin down.
“Company culture is a term that reflects the vibe an employee experiences at work,” says Tom Mercer, People Director at Swingers. “In turn, this drives an employee’s emotional pact with their employer – in other words, how they feel when they’re at work. People forget what was said far more easily than how it made them feel.”
Your culture is often a reflection of your company’s core values, shown in every aspect of the business. ‘Culture’ comprises how each team feels about the company internally – but it also impacts how the organisation is viewed from the outside by everyone from potential hires to prospective customers.
How would Tom sum up Swingers’ company culture? “Honest, approachable, informal and fun,” he says. “You won’t find anyone in a shirt and tie watching the clock. We aim to hire great people, give them the tools needed to do a great job, then get out of their way.”
In practice, according to Tom, this involves offering teams a flexible working pattern that meets their needs; being honest about mistakes; and always being available for a chat.
How is Gen Z impacting company culture in 2023?
The world of work may be changing, but company culture is as important as ever – it just looks a bit different now, due to new workers setting its standards. Gen Z will make up almost 30% of the workforce by 2025, and their perspective on work tends to differ from that of previous generations.
For example: blurred boundaries at work is non-negotiable for younger employees. They are less likely than their older counterparts to allow their professional lives to seep into their personal lives, or to tolerate overbearing bosses or unjust pay gaps.
Instead, they prioritise authentic leadership, open communication, collaborative environments and a solid work-life balance. Gen Z also appreciates value-led companies and will see straight through empty marketing or hypocrisy regarding diversity and inclusion.
The good news is that the return to the workplace (whether IRL, virtual or hybrid) is an exciting opportunity for companies to rethink their culture and build something more suited for 2023 and beyond. This might involve incorporating a greater sense of purpose and social responsibility into the day-to-day agenda, prioritising mental health and encouraging employee agency and creativity.
This subtle shift is something Swingers is seeing play out across its venues. “Pay is very important, but increasingly – especially in the venues where the team is younger – our values, social responsibility and sustainability actions are just as crucial,” says Tom.
Organisational culture has a direct impact on both performance and wellbeing, so whatever your workplace setup, you can’t afford to overlook it.
“Having a culture that is seen in a positive light will help a company to grow with a team that is engaged, happy and supportive,” Tom continues. “And a company without strong culture will shorten lengths of service within its teams and will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best talent.”
How do you build great company culture in a hybrid environment?
Not sure how to build a positive company culture in a hybrid environment? Below are a few tips.
Work on the onboarding experience: First impressions are everything, so make sure your onboarding experience is friendly and positive. From introducing newcomers to the rest of the team to making sure their tech and logins work properly, there are plenty of easy ways to make people feel welcome.
Trust your team: “It’s important to accept that your team’s preferred way of working might not be how it has been done in the past,” says Tom. Create overarching structures and objectives, but don’t dictate methods too strictly; in other words, get out of the way so your employees can do their best work.
Stay connected: Have regular virtual hangouts and chats for fun as well as work, and to share wins. Slack and Teams are great for keeping your team connected. From team meetings to FaceTime, every interaction is important! You can also host virtual events to bridge the gap between in-office meet-ups.
Make time to listen to everyone: Check in with your team consistently and make sure they know you’re available to chat. “Be guilty of over-communicating – never under-communicating,” says Tom.
Develop your emotional intelligence: Leaders and managers need empathy and compassion to support their employees, particularly those working remotely. “Accept that you as a manager need to adapt your behaviour to your team members, not the opposite,” advises Tom. Support a healthy work-life balance by encouraging teams to switch off and avoid messaging them out of hours.
Ask for feedback: No one and nothing is perfect and there’s always more that can be done. Be honest and involve the team in as many discussions and decisions as possible. Ultimately, culture is not just about the leadership team – it’s everyone’s responsibility to own it, reinvent it and make it real.
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