What Staff Culture Is (And What It Isn’t)
By: Vanderbloemen March 22, 2018
Culture is a big buzzword right now, but many staff teams are still unaware of what it really means. So what is culture exactly?
Culture is the way a team interacts with each other. It is how an office atmosphere affects each person on staff, positively or negatively. It is the intangible factor that draws new hires and retains current staff. Essentially, culture is a large part of an organization’s DNA. It takes time, investment, and a staff team that is fully bought in to create a winning culture.
Now that we’ve discussed what culture is, let’s talk about what culture is not.
1. Culture is not the entire staff being friends.
While a healthy culture will likely lead to some office friendships, it is not a requirement. It is possible to have a healthy office culture while maintaining appropriate relationships with other staff members. If your staff members are not always together outside of work, it could mean many things, but a toxic staff culture is not often one of them.
On the flip side, just because the people on a staff team are friends, doesn’t mean an organization has a good and healthy culture.
2. Culture is not always cool.
Culture is often confused for simply being “cool”. Large companies with the latest gadgets, updated facilities, and fun office games are seen as having healthy cultures, but that is not always the case. Attempting to buy the loyalty of your staff team will not create a winning team culture that lasts.
3. Culture is not expensive.
Similar to the previous point, many organizations believe that expensive, flashy events are the key to creating a good culture. Here at Vanderbloemen, we plan appropriately-priced events that take place throughout the year, like a Potluck Thanksgiving or Ice Cream Sundae Party during the day.
These examples are fun for everyone, and can be done even on a tight budget. Staff events can be minimal in expense, but still able to create a space for the team to take a break in the middle of the busy work day.
4. Culture is not free.
While culture doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, there is the cost of time. Whether a team has 4 people or 100 people, it needs someone who can spearhead the culture aspect of your workplace.
On our team at Vanderbloemen, we’ve designated someone to spend part of the week supporting our current culture plan and brainstorming for future initiatives. This may cost our company money in the time focused on culture, but it pays off in employee satisfaction and retention.
5. Culture is not just fun.
Culture is not just about going bowling or doing karaoke together as a team. Culture isn’t just about having fun, it’s about connecting and building a better team. Instead of planning “fun” things to keep your staff entertained, brainstorm events that also tie into your mission, vision, and values. Fun should be a byproduct of your events, but it’s not the end goal.
6. Culture is not an accident.
Healthy staff culture is not something that a team will simply fall into; it’s intentional. Whether you know it or not, your staff has a culture, and it’s set by the senior leader. If you evaluate your current culture and realize it’s unhealthy or even toxic, it might be worth it to assess what type of leadership is driving that culture.
What are some traits of a healthy culture that you’ve experienced?