Is company culture important?

The layers of culture inside organisations run deep. Every company is nuanced, with its own set of beliefs, values and “the way things are done around here” underpinning what it does.

One of my favourite daily reads comes from Dr Leandro Herrero in his email series. He’s a psychiatrist by background, who then spent many years in hands-on leadership positions in global companies before founding The Chalfont Project Ltd, a leading consulting group of organisational architects.

I’ve enjoyed speaking with him over the years and hearing him talk. Dr Leandro recently wrote an article called: The unsaid and unsayable are at the deeper levels of culture.

Leandro quoteIt states: “When trying to understand a culture, there will be plenty of visible things to look at, to hear and to sense. Leaders with high social skills will capture them and will try to make sense. To some extent, crucial as this is, it is the easy part.

“To go to the deeper layers of the culture, the underground of thoughts, the tapestry of beliefs and emotions in the hidden side, you need to hear the unsaid and the unsayable. ‘Hearing’ is the skill. It’s a sensory ability that can be developed by critical thinking and critical questioning.”

I recommend reading the whole article if you’d like to find out more and signing up for Dr Leandro’s daily emails.

Today I have a guest writer who would like to share his thoughts on company culture. Alexander Maasik, (pictured below) is communication specialist and content creator at Weekdone. He has a degree in journalism and public relations and a strong passion for internal communication and online collaboration.

Have you considered or do you use technology to track your culture? I’d not heard of Weekdone before, it creates weekly employee progress reports, uses OKR (Objectives and Key Results) software and compiles summaries. If you have a story to share, do please get in touch.

Over to you Alexander…


Is company culture important?

We hear a lot about company culture. The internet is full of articles that tell you about the importance of defining the values, generating a language and enforcing the traditions for a company.

But is it really that important?

The most important thing in a workplace should be work. Not the fact that everyone is exceptionally happy (I mean, who cares about happiness: they get paid for doing their work).

Attitude like that is still very popular among CEOs and other members of leadership. And it makes sense.

The system that has worked for thousands of years is: you work, you create value for the company and you get paid. This is it.

Yet when we talk about a modern workplace, there is a lot more to consider.

Power of the millennials

Millennials entering the workforce have different needs than those that came before. They look for different things than baby boomers for whom working in a cubicle was a norm.

Many studies show that when it comes to work, millennials don’t consider money to be the main motivation for working.

For them, the most important factor is a constant chance to improve, the need for feedback and an opportunity to do meaningful work. (Tweet this)

Quote With unemployment numbers being low, the real power is in the hands of the employee.

Top talent is in a strong bargaining position, when it comes to negotiations with a potential workplace.

At the same time, only about 30% of American workforce is engaged in their work. And it shows.

A potential employee understands very quickly will he be happy to work in a new environment and if very few people seem to not care about their job, he will leave.

If you want them to stay with you, you must offer them something beyond the salary numbers.

Power of the communication experts

This puts a lot of stress on company’s communications, as this is what shapes the culture that must attract the top talent in the industry.

Dan Pink

The principles of communications must be set early on as it’s easier to implement a good strategy within a start-up than to chance a bigger company where the communication is flawed.

Luckily our century offers many product that help to set up this two-way communication model.

You can use company wide applications that promote teamwork like Asana or weekly progress reporting like Weekdone. If you need something more, there is an app for anything nowadays.

These apps help you, as David Bizer, former recruiter for Google, has said, “make your culture awesome.” (There may have been another word in there – beginning with f… – Rachel) 

The job of the internal communication specialist is to find the best one for your culture.

Quote But even when you have an excellent company culture, don’t expect young people to stay around for the long run. They expect to try many different jobs in their 20s and 30s, so in the end they’ll probably leave you anyway.

And if you think the millennials are a tough crowd to please, the generation Z that follows, will be even worse.

Now, if we know that whatever we do the employees will still leave, why should we bother?

We bother because we, too, want to go to our workplace and feel engaged and valued. We talk about company culture because we know, the edge it gives us makes us stronger than our competitors.

And we know that it’s not a buzzword or a stunt. It’s a resource. A resource that helps us succeed.

Post author: Alexander Maasik.

First published on All Things IC blog 12 August 2015.


  1. Sam Marshall says:

    Alexander, the study you cite doesn’t seem to back up the point you’re making. Did I miss something? The infographic actually says Millennials value financial stability most of all, for example.

    “Many studies show that when it comes to work, millennials don’t consider money to be the main motivation for working.”

  2. Hi Sam, Thanks for the comment.

    Yes, the infograph says that the main aspiration for young people is financial stability. But if you read on, it also points out that for first jobs the most important thing (for them) is career growth (30%) and fulfilling work/stability.
    To my understanding it means that stability (in work and finance) is more important than high salary. So if their other needs are met (growth, feedback etc) the amount of money is not a big priority.

  3. Gerard says:

    People at any age are seeking meaning in their jobs, and always have I suppose, but in the past was suppressed. Yes Millennials etc may have slightly different expectations, but we too often cite ‘the rise of the millennial’ as the reason why the company culture has to change. If we take a broader look, the very nature of ‘work’ is undergoing a massive renaissance due to network technology or ‘digital’ (recommend Paul Miller from DWGs book to read more on this). What an exciting time to be alive (and ‘in work’!)

  4. Emily says:

    This is a great post, I think there’s a lot of truth to millennials putting more of an emphasis on meaningful work than on salary. Personally, I feel more productive in a workplace with excellent company culture. You mentioned a few applications that promote teamwork, and I have another to add to that list. Ving is a really great tool for improving communication and I find it extremely helpful! Here’s the link if you want to have a look:

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