Good company culture needed in UK businesses

The need to define culture and its importance in the workplace should not be underestimated

These were the key takeaways of the ‘Culture Social – Defining and Measuring Culture’ panel, held at Twitter’s UK headquarters in London and organised by culture change business Utopia.

“Culture is the foundation of any good company,” said Adrian Walcott, brand strategy and culture director of Brands with Values, when asked why he thought it was important to understand the definition of culture.

John Owen, founder of The Decision Practice and an associate partner at White Door Consulting, said the common definition of culture is ‘the way we do things around here’. However, his personal definition of culture is norms and narratives.

“Norms are the things we do habitually and the way we go about our day-to-day lives. And narratives, not just in terms of the stories we tell externally but the stories we tell internally, are the stories we tell ourselves,” said Owen.

Owen also described the three components he felt make for a healthy culture. Engagement, the feeling of belonging and attachment; enablement, feelings of being supported and valued; and energy, feelings of wellbeing and purpose.

His research showed organisations were often lacking in energy. “Fifty-one per cent of UK employees report feeling burnout or exhaustion in their current job,” said Owen.

Walcott expanded on why employees lacking energy is detrimental to a good company culture.

“Employers need to think about what drives employees,” he said. “I think that what drives everyone, or what gets us out of bed in the morning, is linked to our values.”

Walcott explained the key to creating inclusive, productive and happy company cultures is to find ways to unlock the values of employees.

“If you have ways to spot the various values that manifest in the way your employees communicate and behave, and also get a sense of what drives their desire to work, you can then start to create inclusive cultures that are profitable,” said Walcott.

Sue Eilfield, VP people and culture for Great Britain and global lead for inclusion and diversity at Coca-Cola European Partners, agreed that businesses need to invest in creating good company cultures, as they are what motivate employees to work continuously to a high standard.

“People want to work together and achieve. Teams of employees should be able to say ‘I like working in this team of people and I feel joy and passion in my place of work’,” said Eilfeld.