Every company has a corporate culture, whether they know it or not. The culture comes down to how people work together within the organization to get things done and affects nearly every aspect of the organization. Companies have two choices: let the culture form itself, or choose to shape it into something else.

Companies with the best and most successful cultures almost always put effort into making the culture what they want it to be. That conscious effort to create a cohesive environment tends to lead to more success and a strong competitive advantage. Think about it like an equation, says Hal Halladay, the Chief People Officer at Infusionsoft: Happy employees = Happy customers = Happy shareholders. It all starts with employees who are engaged and inspired to work hard and contribute to the success of the company. As people start to be more accountable for their work because they are passionate and excited about it, the quality of work starts to increase, which leads to overall success for the company and a competitive advantage. When employees are engaged and encouraged to collaborate at work, they tend to be more energized and are happier to come to work. That optimism leads to high morale and strong results.

When put in those terms, it makes sense that every company would want a good corporate culture--why wouldn't you do something that builds up employees and contributes to the company's bottom line? But actually building a strong culture is often easier said than done. Here are a few principles of how to define and develop a strong culture:

First, it starts with defining what you want the culture to be. This often happens by having a strong goal and purpose for the organization. The goal should be the driving force behind all the work you do and something that resonates with employees. Some companies go further to develop a list of core values that embody what the company represents. At Infusionsoft, there are nine core values, including practicing open, real communication, facing challenges with optimism, constantly improving, and doing the right thing. These values put actions behind the goal and help every employee and future employee know what is expected of them and how they should make their business decisions.

A big part of culture is hiring the right people. With the core values in mind, managers can look for potential employees who encapsulate the mission of the organization and who are excited to live by the values. The more employees who are on board with the mission, the more the culture will grow and lead to a stronger competitive advantage. People who live by the company's goals and core values thrive at an organization, so that is who managers should try to hire. Throughout the entire process, employees should be very involved and be encouraged to provide feedback and ideas.

Some companies build their cultures around perks like free lunches and yoga; while those perks can be great for employee morale and contribute to the overall success of the company, Hal encourages organizations to also consider more meaningful perks and benefits for employees. Those could include things like wellness packages, strong benefits, and areas to work and collaborate. At Infusionsoft, it also includes a Dream Manager, or a full-time employee who works with employees to help them reach their dreams, whether they are personal or professional. As employees work to tackle their fears and try new things, they are invigorated in all aspects of their lives, which comes back to creating a stronger work environment.

Culture may look different at every organization, but when done correctly and nurtured, it can create a positive environment that encourages employees to do their best work. The competitive advantage that comes from culture can't be overstated, and building a strong culture can be one of the best things you can do for your company.

Listen to the full Future of Work Podcast with Hal Halladay to learn more.

Published on: Aug 15, 2017