The Role of Employees in culture


From the Ground Up: The Role of Employees in Building a Strong Business Culture. Company culture is increasingly in the spotlight today as people recognise the very tangible benefits to business of a strong culture. In fact, this study shows how a strong corporate culture has a significant impact on company revenue and income. Companies were tracked over an 11-year period, with those having a strong culture averaging more than 4x the revenue growth, a massive 700% the net income growth and over 12 times the stock price growth of those without.

But it’s not just the business and shareholders that benefit. Everyone does – morale is far higher, as are job satisfaction levels among the staff, while customers benefit from the resultant great levels of service which make dealing with such companies so much more enjoyable.

Generally, the setting and maintenance of company culture is said to be a leadership issue – it being up to the leaders to set the tone and ensure everyone abides by the cultural tone and rules. 

However, this is far from being the full picture. While leadership sets the foundation and direction, it is the employees who bring culture to life through their actions and attitudes, embodying the values, demonstrating the desired behaviours, and contributing to the overall environment within the organisation. 

For example, positive employee behaviour such as these contributes to a healthy and thriving business culture: 

  • Collaboration: collaborating and working effectively with others foster a culture of teamwork, trust, and shared success.
  • Initiative: employees who take initiative and go beyond their assigned tasks demonstrate a proactive and innovative culture, which encourages others to do the same.
  • Positivity: a positive attitude, supporting colleagues and showing resilience in the face of challenges, embodies a culture of optimism, motivation, and a can-do mindset.
  • Respect and inclusivity: by treating others with respect, embracing diversity, and creating an inclusive environment a culture of fairness, acceptance, and equality is created.

In contrast, negative employee behaviour such as these examples will have a detrimental effect on the culture of a business:

  • Lack of accountability: employees who avoid taking responsibility for their actions or fail to meet their commitments will undermine a culture of accountability, trust, and reliability.
  • Gossip and negativity: engaging in gossip, spreading rumours and generally fostering a negative atmosphere will erode trust, breed negativity, and create a toxic work culture.
  • Resistance to change: while many people are wary of change, despite the need to constantly evolve, resistance to change will hinder progress significantly.

One of the best guides to establishing a great culture I’ve come across is the book, “Begin with WE” by Kyle McDowell, who espouses the benefits of defining the culture values of a business by beginning each with “We” to ensure everyone is a part of them. 

When defining your business culture, then, remember the words of Simon Sinek, “Company culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” and recognise the critical role of employees in ensuring your culture works – to the benefit of all.