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Culture has become something of a buzzword around the HR industry of today. Dependent on your point of view, it’s either a fluffy distraction dreamt up by HR, or a critical factor when it comes to driving employee engagement and business performance. 

When culture isn’t a priority

Back when I started my HR career, the culture of an organisation wasn’t something I’d ever given a thought to. Provided the people I worked alongside were nice enough, it didn’t cross my mind to be concerned about an organisation’s culture when I applied for jobs. Job description, responsibilities, and location – sure, all of those were important – but culture? It wasn’t something which was really on my radar.

That all changed when I took on a junior HR role within an organisation whose culture was going horribly, terminally wrong. A blame culture was prevalent throughout; employees and managers alike were governed through fear, and I couldn’t wait to leave the office at the end of each day. Within little over a year I had made the decision to move on; and this time, culture was at the very top of my agenda.

What a difference a job makes

Having seriously lucked out on the culture stakes that time around, with my next role I hit the jackpot, and all of a sudden I discovered the difference a positive, motivating culture can make to each and every individual employee. All of a sudden, I couldn’t wait to get to the office each morning – dreading Monday mornings was a thing of the past. I felt empowered to make decisions and to support others in their decision-making processes. No longer did I feel afraid to make mistakes – it was culturally acceptable to try something new and to push the boundaries in pursuit of something awesome. And, with increasing responsibility for the overall HR remit, I could take a lead role in driving that culture forward and ensuring everyone across the business benefited from it as I did.

When you are fortunate enough to experience a great organisational culture, you become unwilling to settle for second best. I spent almost nine years in my previous organisation and knew that it was going to be a challenge to find somewhere else which could meet or exceed my expectations from a cultural perspective. This is where Benefex came in.

If you’ve read through the above and still fall into the camp of ‘fluffy distraction’ at the start of this post – great, so you might enjoy coming to work every day, but why should that be a priority above focusing on on delivering the business objectives? Well, I’m going to have to disagree with you. Sure, working for organisations which proactively drive a great culture has given me a huge amount of job satisfaction, but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg.

Culture and wellbeing go hand-in-hand

By actively wanting to come into work each day, my mindset is different from the moment I cross the office threshold. Instead of putting off tasks, I’m throwing myself into them, and delivering better and more frequent results as a consequence. Because I enjoy my role so much, I don’t have to make that horrendous work/life differentiation we so often seem compelled to make, in the form of the work/life balance argument. Work is part of my life: it’s a part of my life which I enjoy very much, and which I want to do well at. As a result, I might find myself dreaming up solutions to a work-related problem while I’m eating breakfast on a Saturday morning, or while watching my daughter at her swimming lesson. No one is asking me to do that – I’m making an active choice to do so, because it’s something that engages me and something that I want to do.

If you’re still not convinced…

So, if we compare the example of the ‘me’ in one of my early roles: desperate to get out of the door each day, terrified to try something new, with me today: motivated, driven and enthused; which employee do you want working for your organisation? Which employee is going to drive results, implement change and make a genuine difference to your business? And how can you do everything in your power to ensure that your employees fall into that second category every single time?

Culture matters. Fact.

This post was first published on the Benefex website on 30 June 2016.