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The Importance of Culture Within the Workplace

Published 25 August, 2020
Marquis Murray
Written by Marquis Murray

The Importance of Culture

Hiring and retaining smart, creative talent is perhaps one of the greatest challenges businesses face today. In a world where talented employees are your most valuable asset, it’s no surprise that top talent seeks out great employers. Having the right team in place is critical to the success of your organization.

As an agency you most likely can’t match the perks and stock options of companies like Facebook and Apple, so you need to highlight the culture, learning opportunities, perks and benefits you have to offer. The key here is culture.

Create Your Tribe

Differentiate your agency with a culture that’s rock-solid, because it will help you attract and retain great talent, foster loyalty and grow revenue in the process. Your company's culture should permeate throughout all aspects of your organization and resonate deeply with the talent you want to attract.  As you develop and engrain culture within your organization words won’t be able to explain it, it’s something that must be truly felt by all members of your team.  

Attract Talent

People today are constantly looking for change and new opportunities where they can be happy, purpose-driven and experience work-life balance. 46% of job seekers even go so far as to cite company culture as one of the most important factors when applying to a position, therefore good culture not only helps retain but also attracts top talent.

In today’s day and age, it’s not difficult to learn about the inner workings of an organization and its culture. Your current and past employees are your most credible ambassadors and if they’re happy, they will spread the word. This is instrumental in your efforts to attract top talent to your organization.

Foster Loyalty

One of the greatest advantages of a strong culture is that it has the power to turn employees into advocates. People want more than a steady pay-check and good benefits; they want to feel like they matter and their work matters. When they feel purpose and connection, they’ll become believers in your organization and promote your culture both internally and externally.

An organization with employees who have a deep sense of loyalty and ownership towards their workplace is an organization that’s on the path to success.

work culture

Talent Retention

A strong workplace culture attracts better talent, and more importantly, helps you retain that talent. If your employees feel like they belong and are appreciated, they’re more likely to stick around for the long term. That means lower turnover, fewer new hires to deal with and better relationships amongst your team. Studies have shown that when employees are happy, absenteeism is lowered by 41%, productivity boosts by 17%, and turnover lowers by 24%.

Meaningful work

People want to know that their work is meaningful and has purpose. They want to work on projects they believe in and can feel proud of. So put effort into attracting great clients. The ones with the great reputations who have unique and challenging work to be done. It’s this kind of work and the exposure that comes with it that will help you win and retain great talent.

Of course, this is easier said than done. You’ll need a steady flow of clients to keep the lights on and some projects won’t be the most exciting. However, most people understand that, it’s good to mix it up so your team feels engaged, challenged and excited to come to work.

PRO TIP: Attract higher profile talent & clients by positioning your agency as a strategic partner vs a service provider who completes one-off projects.

Invest in Your People

In today's competitive landscape a great salary, signing bonus, health benefits, and chef-prepared meals all seem to be the norm. These are commodities that many agency owners can’t compete with as we don’t have billions of dollars in revenue, let’s be honest some of us are just trying to make that first million.  You have started building tribal culture now it’s time to show your people your commitment - open your wallets and start investing in your people’s personal and professional growth.  

Learning Opportunities

As an agency owner, you’re obviously concerned about cash flow and maximizing billable hours, but even a small investment in your team can pay huge dividends.  People get motivated by opportunities for growth and it’s in your best interest to invest in your team’s learning. By providing learning opportunities, your employees will come back stronger and contribute to your business even more. Keep in mind, a lack of professional growth is one of the biggest reasons individuals leave an organization.  

PRO TIP: If you make the excuse you can’t afford it, studies have shown that great talent can produce up to 33% higher revenue and by employing great managers, you can see 27% higher revenue per employee. 

Perks and Gratis

We recommend dedicating a percentage of profit towards creating perks, incentives and gratis for your team.  No, you may not have the large budgets to whisk everyone away to a Caribbean retreat or build out an impressive game room to spend hours playing ping pong however you can focus on the things that matter to your people.  If family is important you can provide a gift card to your employees' favourite restaurant so they can take their family out for dinner.  This would speak volumes about you, the organization and the commitment to your people.  This is just one example, get creative and have fun with it!

Get Out of the Way

Letting go of the reins is one of the hardest things a business owner has to do. Many struggle with giving over control and start micromanaging their employees. If you’re struggling with this, I hate to tell you, it’s your business that will pay the price. Your team and even clients will leave due to frustration and it will be your bottom line that suffers.

You hired smart people, built a tribal culture and made investments in them for a reason; now it’s time to get out of their way! You can’t possibly do everything nor do you want to. Empower your team to succeed and stop interfering. Have confidence in your employees abilities and make them feel valued, because nothing hurts your agency’s reputation more than staff turnover.

Communication is Key

Let’s pause for a second and think about how much of our workday involves communication. Whether it’s video conferencing, face-to-face meetings, formal presentations, casual conversations, emails, texts, phone calls - everything requires communication. You can’t operate a business without it.

What is Good Communication?

Good communication is more than just exchanging information. It’s about clearly conveying the message and actively listening so the other person is truly heard.

in an ideal workplace, communication between employees would be open, friendly, and professional. Projects would be completed successfully, both on time and budget since all key players would be fully informed of their roles and responsibilities with progress check-ins along the way. Questions would be asked freely and answered clearly in a timely manner.

two BIPOC women sitting and talking at a table

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

Unclear instructions and miscommunications cause a lot of grief, so make sure your entire team is aware of the scope of a project, the team members involved, and exactly what is expected of them.

By clarifying roles and responsibilities you’re jumping the first hurdle in communication challenges. If everyone is clear on expectations, things will flow a lot more smoothly and the team will be happier and more productive. Keep everything on track by utilizing a project management tool so everyone stays up to date, communication breakdowns occur less frequently and everything is documented so you can regularly check progress, ask questions and address any issues early.

PRO TIP: Invest in project management tools like Asana or Teamwork to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities and projects stay on track.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Feedback is important for effective communication, but not everyone knows how to give proper feedback.

In order to get the message across, it’s important to be clear and detailed. For example, on a design task, instead of saying “improve this”, be more explicit and tell them exactly what to improve. Don’t be vague, leaving it up to interpretation or assumption, because that’s how communication breakdowns occur. For many of us, communicating clearly and effectively isn’t a natural skill and requires some work. You can even take it a step further by finding someone within the organization whose a rockstar at delivering constructive feedback and have them document a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for preparing and delivering constructive feedback.  Making this SOP accessible to your team allows everyone to learn from the experience and improve their own communication and overall operational efficiency.

How to Improve Communication

High-performing teams are built on effective communication, so if your team is struggling in this area you need to make some important investments here.  It may be a good idea to work with a business coach who specializes in team-building exercises so you can create more cohesive, open and honest dialogue within your team.  Something special happens when you connect with people on a personal level, not just professionally - you build trust.

Building Trust

Encourage Connections

To work well, teams need to trust each other. Establishing connections with the people you spend the most time with is a good idea. When everyone is working hard towards meeting deadlines and things get stressful, your culture and environment need to foster a sense of community, the feeling of having a “work family”. When your team is comfortable around each other, they naturally communicate better. Use team building exercises like lunches, games, and retreats to get them connected. The idea is to break down walls and foster communication.  Give people a chance to relax together without the boundaries of the work environment.

If your team works remotely, this bonding experience is even more crucial to improve communication and trust. If you can afford retreats, great. If not, get the team together virtually on Zoom or Google Meet on a regular basis. It shouldn’t always be about work either, let these meetings be social virtual “happy hours”!  Get creative to bring your team closer together, build connections, and understand each others’ personalities and communication styles.

PRO TIP: Use communication tools like Slack to create real-time dialogue, cut down on email and enhance collaboration.  You can use emojis and GIF’s too :)

Open-Door Policy

The key to great communication is being comfortable. Comfort in asking questions, voicing concerns, and pitching ideas. Build trust within your team and create that sense of comfort and openness with an open door policy.

Keeping the doors open for communication is crucial, and it starts with you. If you aren’t accessible then that sends a message to everyone that you’re more important than them. So remove obstacles, create a sense of trust and respect, and encourage the open exchange of ideas. This way problems can be presented and resolved as they arise instead of turning into full-blown disasters.

The Golden Rule

Possibly the single most effective way to create a sense of trust amongst your team is through honesty and complete transparency.

If team members feel like information is being withheld or secrets are being kept, the trust you’ve built will go right out the window and the employee will likely follow.  Of course, every business has some level of sensitive information that's not meant for everyone, however where you can communicate and be transparent, you should. Remember the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated.

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Source Notes

There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees. 

Why 33 Percent Of New Employees Quit in 90 Day 


Topics: Systems and Processes Onboarding