How company culture affects employee outlook and engagement

Nina Sharpe takes a closer look at the effects and influence of company culture on employee attitudes.

Employee engagement has become something of a buzzword in recent years. But when it comes to nurturing this engagement and there are several elements to consider.

One factor often overlooked, and only considered when it’s far too late, is company culture. If the company culture is lacking, or worse still, negative, this can have a knock-on effect on employees, and the level at which they perform and engage.

Defining employee engagement

As it implies, employee engagement is the way staff interact with each other, with clients, and customers. For employees to be willing to interact with one another, they need to understand the company culture, and how it relates to their jobs. A clear indication of what’s expected and what goals are to be achieved must be clear.

Employees need to engage with not only their co-workers, but with business objectives too. Feeling like they’re part of the bigger picture and belong to a family goes a long way to ensuring employees stay motivated and happy in their current positions.

Engaging employees will keep them in line with a business’s mission, drive them to exceed expectations, and be willing to learn and upskill themselves. This creates a positive attitude towards their position, making them more committed to developing their careers within a business. This is all beneficial to a company, and the employee involved.

Career development to drive engagement

Lower turnover rate, improved productivity and client relations are all benefits that come with driving employee engagement.

The easiest way to determine where a business stands is by speaking to the source of it all – the employees

Research further highlights the importance of employee engagement:

  • Employees who are engaged are 21% more productive.
  • When it comes to looking for new job opportunities, 73% of disengaged employees are always looking out for their next opportunity, compared to the 37% of engaged employees.

Additional research in 2015 found that the most pressing issues in organisations globally are employee engagement and company culture. These two buzz terms are thrown around frequently, and with good reason.

What is company culture?

Company culture is defined by the employees’ and managers’ attitude and customer interactions, and the effect this has on the running of a business. The company culture is often a reflection of the office environment, the values, behaviours, rituals, and traditions, as well as the language of the workforce.

No two companies will have the same culture, and not all cultures are necessarily healthy. A company’s culture is often shaped by how business processes flow and its management. As much as a business tries to build a supportive company culture, these efforts may take a turn for the worse, and do more harm than good.


The fine line between micromanaging and being supportive comes into play here. While a manager may think they’re empowering their staff, the risk of taking this too far can make the environment seem oppressive.

The goal should be for a company to succeed, and employees to excel. Achieve this by providing a safe, supportive environment that facilitates growth and development.

Companies with high-performance cultures built themselves on a foundation of support, engagement, and proactivity. As a result, they’re often industry leaders and innovators. Their distinct culture gives them a competitive edge and is one of the biggest reasons for their success.

The relationship between employee engagement and company culture

Employee engagement rises as a result of company culture. This is because the culture outlines the behaviour and values expected of employees. Once employees understand the culture, they understand what’s expected of them, and how to go about meeting deliverables.

When employees achieve a sense of greater purpose and connection, they feel involved and supported. The first step to improving employee engagement is for a company to assess its culture.

Five tips for improving company culture

  1. Define the culture. The easiest way to build and shape a company culture is to document the framework behind it. This includes the company’s vision, mission, and values. The culture a company wishes to promote and maintain must become a core part of their business plan, and steps taken to uphold the values from the very launch. This document becomes part of the company’s DNA and forms the basis of everything they do.
  2. Documenting the culture. There are several ways to achieve this. Often the employee handbook or a new employee induction presentation is the ideal place to include this information. It’s important to re-evaluate this information regularly to ensure that the best interests of the business and employees are always put first.
  3. Liaise with stakeholders. To understand what’s working and what isn’t, managers, employers and employees should all communicate regularly. This allows every level of the hierarchy to have their say, while providing a fresh perspective for the business. It also promotes a feeling of inclusivity, no matter what the level of responsibility in the corporate structure.
  4. Managing company culture. Research has found that 87% of HR managers and leaders believe that two of the biggest challenges a business will face are culture and engagement. Branding plays a large part in this. Being associated with a well-known, trusted brand creates the perception that employees are working for a trusted company. It’s the same as when consumers choose a brand to meet their needs; they go for the trusted, easily recognisable option. Another aspect to consider is that most employees aren’t looking to stay with the same company for the next 20 years. As their passion, needs, and life goals change, they’ll look for a company that aligns with this.
  5. Employee engagement – a single step. When it comes to ensuring employee engagement, the easiest way to determine where a business stands is by speaking to the source of it all – the employees. Give employees the freedom to express their opinion, the information they provide can guide the culture reinvention. This will benefit a business in the long term, as employees will be happier, and their outlook will be positive – increasing productivity, and in turn, profits.


About the author

Nina Sharpe is a content champion for various outlets, covering business topics from finance for startups to small business accounting tips.



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