Companies that are competing for employees want to stand out from the crowd. While a nicely stocked break room or a relaxed dress code might grab the interest of some potential employees, the truth is that a thriving, positive company culture is what most people are looking for.

Culture, Not Climate, Matters

Company culture is your identity as a company. It entails the values and norms that have been intentionally created or have arisen organically and define who you are. Company culture comprises the underlying shared:

• Beliefs

• Values

• Routines

• Traditions

• Perspectives

These characteristics are infused throughout your company. Rarely is a company’s culture measurable—it is the personality of the entire organization found in a deep network of interconnections and relationships.

Your company climate, on the other hand, is the mood of the organization. Just like an individual has an unchanging personality, but their moods can change from moment to moment, the personality (culture) of your company should stay the same and the mood (climate) can shift. Workplace climates can change because of:

Leadership management styles

• Workload

• Work environment

• Revenue swings

In a nutshell, the organizational climate reflects the shifting mood of how employees experience the work environment.

You might have all of the comforts of a desirable workplace climate, but if employees and management do not respect each other and have effective methods to work together to achieve the company’s goals, company culture will suffer. When it comes to the workplace, the personality of your company—including your mission, values, goals, and work environment—matters the most.

Culture plays a key role in keeping employees happy, but cultivating the right culture is not always easy. People are looking for more than a paycheck. Instead, they want to feel that their work is meaningful and valuable.

Empathetic Leadership

If a company’s leadership is disconnected from the workforce, it can erode the workplace culture. In contrast, leaders who make an effort to connect can make a big difference. A manager, team lead, or even CEO who works alongside their employees and gets to know who they are and what their needs are can help create a strong work culture because employees don’t feel forgotten or overlooked. Some founders, like Ken Fisher at Fisher Investments, have gone out of their way to personally help employees feel more connected and relevant, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and company loyalty.

Meaningful Goals Lead to Meaningful Work

If your company goals are limited to focusing exclusively on your bottom line, your workers and culture will reflect that. Because of your focus on revenue, there is a chance that the physical and mental well-being of your employees will be overlooked. You might be able to hit quarterly goals for revenue, but what is the cost to your employees and organizational culture to reach those goals?

A great way to start improving your culture is to carefully examine the overall intention of your company, and then make purposeful steps to tie the culture to that. With clear, positive, and culture-centric goals, you can start to build a welcoming environment that helps your employees feel fulfilled and relevant.

Culture goals can include both detailed and broad values that should be the focus of the entire company, making sure everyone matters and that all voices are heard. A few examples include:

• Improving employee ownership

• Promoting trust

Encouraging innovation and hard work

• Establishing strong team relationships

• Consider how you can best engage with your employees to help make your company a better workplace for everyone, then put that engagement to work for you. It takes time and intention, but the effort will be worth it.