Building a culture fit for growth

By Jess Higgs | 3rd Nov 2021

When assessing a company's overall performance and health, many people immediately turn to the quantifiables like revenue, profit, and staff turnover. However, studies have consistently shown that there's a harder to quantify factor that also significantly impacts growth and innovation: culture.

Forbes reports that companies with strong cultures achieve revenue levels four times higher than those that don’t. And, when it comes to culture, I'm not talking about office perks like free snacks, company socials and flexible working (although they all help). I'm talking about the values of your business when it comes to team member behaviour and productivity.

As Executive Chairman of Pfizer, Ian Read, puts it, “Get it right, and culture can transform your company’s performance and help sustain success for years to come. Get it wrong, and you’ll pay dearly for it… for years to come.”

Something so inherently unquantifiable can be challenging to cultivate, though, with Deloitte reporting that only 28% of executives say they understand their organisation’s culture.

So what are some of the critical factors in developing a strong culture that can, in turn, turbocharge your growth?

Engage & empower your employees

HR Cloud reports that a meagre 36% of employees feel engaged in their workplace. In comparison, a highly engaged workforce can increase profitability by over 20%. And what’s the single most crucial factor in team member engagement? Trust. Team members who feel trusted and empowered are far more likely to bring their A-Game to work every day and be their most productive, efficient selves. Whether it’s Pret giving their employees budgets to give out free drinks whenever they want or a manager simply asking their team which management style will get the best from them, empowering people rather than limiting them is strongly linked to increased creativity, innovation, productivity and ultimately, growth.

Ask the hard questions

Typically companies only stop and assess their culture when something goes wrong, by which time it’s already too late. Companies that have their culture nailed recognise that it’s an ever-evolving beast, which grows and changes as the business grows, and needs constant attention. It’s vital to assess your culture even when you think it’s going really well. Anonymous staff surveys allow your workforce to give honest feedback, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Talking about culture is one thing, but walking the talk and actively seeking feedback and implementing change based on that feedback, is key to building a solid culture.

Take advantage

Strong company culture is increasingly becoming a marketing advantage. Trust isn't only critical among your workforce but with your customers and investors as well. You only need to look at the culture controversies of Uber and Brewdog to know that poor company culture can have serious reputational damage, which significantly impacts revenue. Consumers are no longer content to accept what a company projects on the surface and increasingly spend their money with responsible and conscientious brands in terms of the planet, their supply chains, and their workforce.

While culture may be hard to quantify, it’s clear that the impact it can have on the growth of your business is incontrovertible. So if you haven't already, take some time to sit back and assess your current company culture, get feedback from your team and look for areas for improvement - it'll prove a sure-fire winner for building sustainable growth.