5 essential components of a vital company culture

Employees crave effective leadership, deep purpose and optimistic belief. Are you creating an environment that drives workers to excel?

Company culture components

The data are in: Companies that have elite cultures outperform those that don’t.

Take Chick-fil-A, for instance. The company generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the U.S., and it’s open only six days a week.

What’s the company’s recipe for success? It’s about much more than tasty chicken and waffle fries.

Chick-fil-A has developed a consistent, elite company culture that is obsessed with providing excellent customer service—with a smile. This consistency leads to customer trust, affinity and loyalty, which all fuel long-term success.

It’s unreasonable to try to replicate Chick-fil-A’s success, but there’s plenty you can do to revive or refine your culture. Let’s review five essential components that can make or break your company culture:

Effective leadership. The most crucial element of employee engagement revolves around the relationships between workers and managers. If you have front-line managers who aren’t effective at leading people, it’s hurting your company culture immeasurably.

A recent study showed that 75 percent of people leave their job because of their boss—not the company. Are your managers effective, empathetic leaders? If not, your culture will suffer.

Deep purpose. Millennials and Gen Zers have many differences, but both groups crave purposeful work—sometimes even more so than cash.

Organizations that can tap into this profound longing for purpose are likely to attract and retain the best talent. This requires strategic, consistent communication, starting with executives who clearly define and articulate the company’s mission, vision and values.

Talk must be backed up with walk, however. Executives who say one thing and do another will alienate employees and damage your culture.

Army of ambassadors. Employee engagement statistics can be scary.

Gallup found that 85 percent of employees aren’t engaged at work. Unfortunately, most people just don’t care that much.

Are your workers engaged, or are they mostly indifferent? The easiest way to gauge that is to determine whether your team members are ambassadors for your brand.

Do they talk about what they do with excitement? Do they recommend your business as a great place to work? Do they plan to work there in two years?

If you are unsure—or if you don’t like the answers to these questions—you probably have work to do in building a culture that naturally creates an army of ambassadors.

Optimistic belief. At the core of any successful business or team is a deep, unwavering belief in a positive future. Everyone craves hope. As Colin Powell said: “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Unchecked negativity, disbelief and pessimism can quickly rot your culture. You must consistently reassure, uplift and edify your workers, and instill a hope for a bright future.

Competitive compensation. Of course, money matters.

You can’t have a thriving culture with crummy compensation. Regularly check industry averages (by state, too) to make sure you’re offering fair wages.

How does your company culture stack up? If you haven’t in a while, let your team take a culture survey to measure your progress and see which areas require attention. It’s a good start toward better understanding your team and gathering the data you need to create a healthy, thriving culture.

John Eades is CEO of LearnLoft. A version of this post first appeared on the LearnLoft blog.


3 Responses to “5 essential components of a vital company culture”

    Bill Van Eron says:

    I was fortunate to work in one of America’s most admired companies – HP – between 1978 and 2001. It would have been hard then to find any employees that were disengaged as Gallup reports today at 85%. But while HP had a great HP Way and MBO approach, their visionary leaders Bill & Dave also showed the value of purpose as they invested in communities, and environmental needs.

    But HP failed to transition from visionary, enabling leadership so that task fell on those of us that believed in the power of shared purpose, trust, inclusion and that paying attention to the internal and external success factors, created greater clarity that success today is determined entirely by that ecosystem. I left my comfort zones as a top ranked designer in HP to immerse myself into the customer facing ecosystem (sales, channels) and then the customer influencer one (Analysts, Journalists, Social Media). The insights I gained from this greatly expanded the way creativity, relationships, experience and higher human values were shared and realized. We as a team led the nation in quota achieved as did our resellers as I was able to catalyze greater meaning and fun in work while growing revenues 5-10X greater than any conventional efforts realized. With customer influencers, like with channels and sales teams above, investing in trust, credibility and relevance paid off huge dividends as we leaped past all competitors to earn regard when trust was what we invested in versus pushing editors, resellers or customers to act when trust was still questionable.

    So I read this blogpost with appreciation that purpose is at least being discussed decades after I realized its value as an actionable and applied ten year strategy that produced HP’s strongest revenue growth years. I feel blessed to have always earned it, and inspired global teams to do and expand on work that mattered.

    Today, I see how many younger gens want to work in entrepreneurial environments yet how badly large companies score there. I see how large companies put talent recruitment as Number 1, while failing to address the requirements of todays talent base. I also see why leaders have resisted for decades to embrace the value tenets driving change and now as a conscious designer, how to change that. Our solution is not the overhyped corporate stuff we see in abundance. Our solution enables our greater humanity to adapt and thrive and share success. Our solution also defines and creates purposes that meet or exceed the criteria for internal and external buy in.

    I hope before I retire, to help others to develop a conscious mindset as I did, and use that to unite people around what really matters versus the typical corporate agendas and this trend to say the right things as leaders, yet execute with minimal attention to it. I hope for all our sake, we can make this leap now as the power shifts to all of us to matter, not just the few.

    Nora says:

    Nice accolades for Chik Fil A. It’s just too bad their CEO felt the need to throw his hat into the ring of divisive politics. Really, how great can this culture be when the CEO thinks some of his employees don’t deserve equal rights because of their sexual orientation? Sorry but Chik Fil A should never make anyone’s list of “positive cultures.”

    Nora says:

    Nice accolades for Chik Fil A. It’s just too bad their CEO felt the need to throw his hat into the ring of divisive politics. Really, how great can this culture be when the CEO doesn’t think some of his employees deserve equal rights? Sorry but Chik Fil A should never made anyone’s list of “great cultures.” #NotSorry

Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.