Company executives and human resources professionals often talk about company culture as if it were a faraway planet, dreamy to think about and look at, but impossible to grasp. Now more than ever with a global pandemic and civil unrest, company culture is crucial to the success of a business.
So what is it?
Well simply put, company culture is defined as a set of behavioral and procedural norms observed by an organization. Typically, we use policies, procedures, codes of conduct, values, goals and initiatives to mold and shape our company culture. From the employee relations perspective, company culture is a company’s personality.
What are the different types of company culture?
There are many different types of company culture and some industries tend to gravitate towards certain cultures more often than others. The three main types of company culture are leadership, traditional, and innovative.
Leadership company culture focuses on developing employees and helping them grow in their careers through mentorship and coaching. The main idea is to create an organization of leaders, because as many say, a team is only as strong as their weakest link.
Traditional company culture is the most conventional style of company culture and it tends to get a bad reputation for being “stuffy.” Most folks wear suits and ties, there are a lot of rules and policies in place and there tends to be a clear organizational hierarchy.
The last company culture type, and probably most effective for the cannabis industry, is an innovative company culture. An innovative company culture is focused on the development and innovation in the business. This culture tends to break down the barrier to allow for open communication and transparency. Innovative company culture tends to be inclusive and accepting of individuality. Many innovative and creative employees tend to thrive in this setting and thus do amazing work for innovative companies.
What affects company culture?
Outside of the policies and procedures, there are other factors that shape our company culture including company goals, backgrounds and experiences of the aggregate employee workforce, leadership styles, rewards, and disciplinary systems in place as well as local and national government policies. I’d also add cultural norms with the local and national government, as that heavily affects our company culture. For instance, we often look to Europe with mastering work-life balance due to shorter workweeks and longer maternity leaves.
The backgrounds and experiences of the aggregate workforce is also a huge factor we often overlook. If we have an unconscious bias on our recruitment team, chances are, the entire organization will mirror that make-up, backgrounds, and experiences of the in-house recruiters, which leads to a lack of diversity across the board.
Why is company culture important?
Company culture within an organization separates the successful businesses from the failing businesses. In fact, poor company culture will almost always result in high turnover, poor customer experience, disengaged employees, lower morale and eventually lower profitability.
What is Human Resources’ role in company culture?
What can you do as a human resources professional within an organization to support company culture?
- Carry out organizational values day-to-day
- Effectively communicate company culture through recruiting and new hire processes
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities of each employee within the organization
- Provide continuous learning and development
- Sustain reward and recognition systems
- Administer and maintain performance management
What can Human Resources Assess and Develop Company Culture?
Many organizations harness the power of employee experience survey instruments to determine the success (or failure) of their company culture. After developing an appropriate assessment tool, the next step is to administer the assessment properly. Be sure there’s a goal for participation and a plan of action to attack following up with employees who haven’t completed the assessment.
This is where a lot of organizations fall off. After obtaining responses, you must analyze and actually communicate the results of the survey in a town hall. From there, you work on your areas of opportunity in focus groups within the organization. Most focus groups consist of volunteers from all departments and different levels of seniority and experience.
The next step is to actually take action and begin implementing changes that can improve your areas of opportunity addressed in the survey. This assessment process is iterative, so after following through with suggested changes, you follow up routinely with the same assessment. While this process seems daunting, it shows your employees that you actually care about their experience and want to improve as an employer.
As we continue to develop and evolve as an emerging industry, keep company culture at the forefront of your efforts. Remember, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers, and that growth and profits will absolutely come naturally.
Rashaunah “Shawnee” Williams is the co-founder at Illinois Equity Staffing, an MBE and WBE firm based in Chicago, that supports the cannabis industry in education, job placement, human resources, payroll and social equity & diversity compliance. Shawnee and her business partner Lynette Johnson founded Illinois Equity Staffing because they understood the barriers to entry for lower and middle-class people, minorities and women in the cannabis industry. Both having the “Corporate America” background, Shawnee and Lynette, understand the pain points of this population, as they both grew up in disproportionately impacted areas and are minority women. It’s this perspective that has allowed Illinois Equity Staffing to bridge the gap and create a more equitable cannabis industry in Illinois. She is a member of IWC, Chicago NORML, MCBA, the Cannabis Equity Coalition, Cannabiziac, and BIPOCANN. She also serves on the Human Resources Committee with the National Cannabis Industry Association and the advisory board of Cannabiziac.