By: Daniel Ferber  | 

The Essentials of Workplace Culture

In our generation, more than ever before, a strong workplace culture is an essential quality for a company’s success. However, what exactly is “workplace culture”? In simple terms, workplace culture is the environment that a company provides for its employees. Ideally, each individual employee should have values that are consistent with those manifested throughout the overall company. Workplace culture is the formula that guides the team, motivates the employees, and attracts additional talent to the company.

The necessity of workplace culture is a recent phenomenon. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, for the first time in history, millennials represent the largest generation in the United States labor force. Another study, done by the Deloitte University Press claimed that the number one challenge in today’s workplace landscape is culture and engagement. Being that the millennial employee averages a tenure of two years, it becomes apparent that they directly contribute to the dilemma in today’s workplace, a lack of loyalty and stability. As a result, it’s clear that in order to attract, retain, and engage the modern workforce, companies must intensify their focus on improving company culture.

Companies need to be asking themselves what they can do to build and improve upon their culture. One of the most important qualities people want to see in a potential employer is flexibility. A recent study from PwC has shown that eighty-six percent of large-company workers would strongly prefer a more flexible overall experience. This flexibility primarily entails a greater control over their schedule. A Bentley University study indicated that seventy-seven percent of millennials believe that a flexible schedule will improve their overall productivity. Another vital detail that prospective employees take into account while searching for a job is a certain relationship with their potential co-workers. This relationship consists of shared passions, shared interests, and, most importantly, a strong group dynamic. With approximately eight out of ten employees preferring group work to independent work, companies must share this millennial passion for a group dynamic. This can be examined further than simply doing group projects; a strong group dynamic requires an overall sense of unity within the firm. This unity can be defined by a shared vision and is created in an open, engaging workplace.

The Amazon subsidiary, Zappos, has become the paradigm of a company that has mastered its group dynamic and overall enjoyable workplace culture. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, claims that “[Zappos’] number one priority is company culture,” so he formalized ten core values and aligned his company around them. The employees receive free breakfast and lunch, a 40% discount on merchandise, access to nap rooms, and have monthly team outings. These are some of the reasons that explain why, annually, only 13% of employees leave Zappos on a voluntary basis, whereas 7% are let go on an involuntary basis for various reasons. Concurrently, there are approximately 300 new Zappos employees hired on an annual basis, and amazingly, there are over 30,000 resumes submitted each year to Zappos’ recruitment department for those 300 job openings. The direct correlation between Zappos’ workplace culture and the dedication of their employees is clear. Companies must emulate Zappos’ approach to workplace culture in order to keep the modern workforce engaged and motivated.

Depending on the country, the vision of the ideal workplace culture varies. One factor that causes this contrast is any given country’s relationship with power and authority. The culture in Israel is the quintessential example of a unique approach to authority. Although a hierarchy of power does exist there, it is often overlooked for increased participation from top management to the bottom, where everyone has a say. The extent of this disregard for localized power is evidenced by Israel’s ranking on the Power Distance Index, a measurement of how much a country’s population accepts unequal power distribution within its culture. Israel ranks second from the bottom of countries that do not accept unequal power distribution. In other words, Israelis heavily disregard the power of “higher-ups” and want to have a say. Another detail deeply ingrained into the Israeli culture is direct confrontation. While in other countries there is a tendency to communicate virtually or through a messenger, Israelis believe open, blunt verbal communication to be the most effective. Reflecting on the shared values of direct communication and an informal environment in the Israeli workplace, companies should incorporate these methods into their core operations if they want to arouse interest in potential employees. No matter the country, a strong workplace culture is, and is increasingly becoming the driving force in a company’s future success.