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Work culture is the lifeblood of any company, but at the same time it can be a complex and abstract concept for business leaders. It’s typically defined as an organization’s values and beliefs, and the behaviors that arise in the workplace as a result. Essentially, your culture is the “personality” of your organization, and a direct reflection of your company’s mission.

For large companies and corporations in particular, shaping (or reshaping) their culture might seem like an impossible task, but it’s in the best interest of leaders to ensure that they are aligning the day-to-day environment with how they want to present their enterprise.

On the other hand, small business entrepreneurs have greater opportunity to directly influence their culture as they see fit, given that these leaders are closer with their employees than leaders of larger organizations tend to be.

A company’s culture is the culmination of their ideals and goals put into practice. This means that your working environment should represent the overarching goals of your organization. Taking the reins and developing workplace attributes that contribute toward a healthy culture will allow leaders to promote their mission and create happier and more productive employees.

Communicating and Interacting in Work Cultures

For instance, the way that leaders and employees communicate with each other can be a clear indicator of a company’s mission. It makes sense that organizations strive for good communication, and there are a number of ways -- both in-person and virtually -- to communicate with your employees. Whether it occurs through group meetings, instant messaging, email, or just casual conversation, it is important to consider which methods best suit the mission you are trying to accomplish.

Respectively, the way that employees are treated is a massive contributing factor to work culture. An uninviting or overly strict atmosphere can cast a negative light on business missions if employees are not taken care of. Small business leaders should strive to motivate their workers and bring out the best in them. 

Enacting positive practices like actively praising employees for their achievements, guiding them when they’re having trouble, and being flexible are some ways that to ensure that your employees feel comfortable with your work culture.

Developing the Physical Environment

The physical layout of an office space can also have an impact on communication and company culture. According to the Gensler Workplace Index, the work environment should be a space for employees to focus, collaborate, learn, and socialize. A workplace can have a more open design to encourage free-flowing collaboration and discussion. Inversely, the layout could be more sectioned off, give employees more personal space to focus on their tasks. Some offices can even have areas for both. The way leaders focus on including different physical traits over others also is indicative of their brand of work ethic and communication.

Cultivating a Strong Mission Statement

In an ideal workplace, all employees regardless of position are striving toward the same goal. A healthy workplace culture means nobody has to question why they’re doing what they’re doing, because it is clear from the company’s mission statement. A company’s goals set up the main objectives that they wish to pursue, and the most effective employees are those that are able to connect the dots between their roles and the overarching mission of their business.

As a small business leader, this makes it essential to have a clear and concise mission statement, so that employees fully understand what they are contributing toward as they work. Some mission statements are broad and far-reaching, such as Microsoft’s mission “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Others can be more specific, like McKinsey & Company’s guidelines: “Defined by our people, powered by knowledge, and always innovating.” No matter what suits your values and goals, small businesses should strive to craft a meaningful and impactful mission statement.

Ultimately, your work culture reflects of what type of leader you are, as well as what your company really stands for. For small business leaders, asking yourself what your workplace culture should look like will allow you to properly express and reinforce your missions. Being as detailed as possible - determining the physical appearance of the space, deciding how you’ll interact with employees, etc. - will help make the workplace an even clearer representation of your business mission.

About the Author(s)

 Jake   Croman

Jake Croman is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and college student who currently attends the University of Michigan. Jake Croman's networking experience and logistical know-how extends to his work fundraising on behalf of charitable organizations such as St Judes Children's Hospital and the Eddie Croman Foundation.

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Student University of Michigan
Jake Croman Work Culture SCORE