Try to seriously convince someone in the business world that corporate culture is unimportant. You’ll most likely receive a few good-natured chuckles. That is until they see you aren’t stopping and you seem sincere in your delusion. At which point you have plummeted into having the same credibility as a flat-earther and you could say goodbye to potentially networking. There’s good reason for this very much proportionate response. As the company grows, success or failure can hinge on your businesses culture.
As with many fundamental concepts corporate culture has a very simple reason for its importance. The employees should want to work. Who would’ve thought? The people at Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon,… really, just name a Fortune 500 company. And yet the number of startups insist on slave-driving their employees after the slightest growth is staggering.
Businesses must understand that while it is true that they are paying each employee for their time, this does not transform a human being into a machine. Employees retain their personalities, dreams, passions, attention spans and motivations. Now you have the choice in creating an environment which satiates some of their humanity, thus allowing their work alone to be on their mind. Having control over the environment is alike to having control over which direction the current of the river flows where your employee canoes. Why on earth would you make the current flow the opposite direction in which you hired the employee to go? Rather make the current as suitable as you can.
Remember the engine that runs the world’s businesses is Mutual Self-Interest. Without satisfying the interest of both sides not a single business deal would ever be made. Everyone seems to understand this when conducting their affairs with outside entities but they do not apply this philosophy with their employees because they are not viewed as independent entities. The employee is both an individual and a member of the organization. A compromise must be found where the employee is seen both as part of the company but also as an individual with whom business is conducted. Do good business by keeping your business partners happy, that includes your employees.
The design of your work culture relies heavily on the personality of its leaders. Charisma is a necessity for a great leader, but there are several types. You can have the outgoing, funny and lively leader drawing people in through their vibrant energy and in turn creating an energized environment thus naturally engaging people to work with enthusiasm. Alternatively there is the calm, collected and stoic leader able to lead through creating an environment where the employees respect and feel purposeful under a clear and directed path. Thirdly and most commonly, there is the hard-working leader that sets an example. They arrive at the office before anyone else, work efficiently and are the last to leave. This can inspire employees to work harder, out of respect, awe, and a desire to pull their own weight. Note I have given three examples but the qualities are not mutually exclusive from one another and hybrids can be made. Find your own style and optimize the environment based on your strengths.
Lastly, clean up your damn office! It does not matter what type of culture you are trying to create -that is if you want it to be productive- the office space should not repulse the employees. There shouldn’t be trash lying on the floors or mold growing on the kitchenware. Employees should not have plan meals and fluid intake out of fear of having to use the in-office bathroom. Design your office the best you can!