What Happened to Company Culture?

company culture core values culture human behavior leadership organizational culture purpose May 03, 2023

More than ever, the topic of core values and specifically how to better ingrain core values into an organization's culture comes up in our leadership conversations. Anytime we talk about core values and how to keep them relevant, we have to talk about company culture. 

No matter what company values are printed on a poster in the front lobby, carefully designed words on marketing material, or TV and video ads promising the highest levels of customer and employee experience every day … The actual culture of your company is what the employees are acting out every day.  Too often, they don’t match up and the organization falls short for one another and for their clients and customers. As a resource, I (Cindy) recently developed a lesson titled, Why Shared Values Matter & How to Keep Them Relevant, which you can find in our Leading at the Next Level program.

An article in The Jellison Group shared some stats and examples around the question, Where does company culture begin?

The foundation and continual building of a strong company culture absolutely starts from the top and works its way down. Without full buy-in from top-level owners and managers, it's going to be impossible for a strong company culture to exist–which is when an organization will constantly lose top talent.

When you take a look at the popularity of the term company culture on Google Trends you’ll notice that it really started increasing after 2009, right after the Great Recession happened. The reason for this? During the recession, many workers were desperate for a job, but once the economy turned around, the realization happened that simply having a job wasn’t enough. They wanted to be fulfilled.

Fast forward to now and the interest in company culture is at an all-time high. Why? Because it’s that important, and once again, workers are valuing company culture and career fulfillment over simply collecting a paycheck. The current job market promotes this; if you want a job right now, you can easily find one. Almost every company is hiring. And if that job doesn’t fill your needs outside of a paycheck, you can easily find a new one that will.

Consider this statistic from Google Trends: 9 out of 10 workers are willing to earn less money if they are able to do more meaningful work. Additionally, looking at millennials specifically, 86% of them would consider taking a pay cut to work for a company whose values and mission align with their own. 

Higher pay is still a common tactic used by companies to attract talent, and it may get plenty of people through the door for an interview, but the fact of the matter is that employees aren’t going to stay simply for a paycheck: they need more.

I know a young man who took a $4 per hour pay cut to work in a better culture with opportunity & purpose. He is a Millennial and his friend who is the same age also took a pay cut around the same time for less money but increased purpose and fulfillment.

If you’re writing the term culture off as a buzzword… just know it has gained traction for a critical reason and has become one of the best gifts and opportunities you can offer people - your people, the individuals looking for a culture that matches their values - and for customers who are looking for a culture of people who match their values. 

As you can see, culture matters greatly to the profitability of the organization!