As a business leader you have to talk the talk when attracting and hiring new candidates, but also walk the walk when implementing a positive working environment.

Even though you can’t see it, your company culture is a real and tangible thing. But it is only when it starts to slip or begins to feel toxic that you may sit up and pay attention. It can be the maker or the breaker of a company and needs to be carefully nurtured from the very beginning.

Take a look at the recent story about Revolut, one of the U.K.'s fastest growing fintech startups. When advertising for job vacancies, the company said of its competitors: “You're nothing but a number to them with dollar signs attached.” This may speak as a company setting themselves apart and putting their people first. Scratching beneath the surface, however, there is a different picture being painted. Impossible targets and high-staff turnover are said to be rife.

Business leader have to talk the talk when hiring new candidates and walk the walk when implementing a positive working environment

This is no position that a company wants to find itself in, no matter what size you are. Poor company culture can not only affect your staff retention but also reputation and your bottom line. In fact, our own study found that staff turnover due to poor company culture is costing the economy £23.6 billion per year. The fact is, the culture that is established when you are at 20 employees is near impossible to shift once you reach 800.

It is no easy task to maintain, or indeed change, a company culture that you have produced -- whether that was consciously or not. This becomes even more pertinent as your company grows. Look at Uber, which found itself in the midst of controversy involving bullying, discrimination and several lawsuits. Its CEO has since come out and stated his intent to change the culture by "doing the right thing" by not just focusing on growth but also on transparency and partnership.

As a business leader you have to talk the talk when attracting and hiring new candidates, but also walk the walk when implementing a positive working environment. This will, of course, benefit not only your profit, but most importantly, your people.

Start the process early

I have learned for myself as a founder that you are in a unique position to influence the culture you want to see. When a company is in its early stages, the culture that is established will be that of the founders. This is a process that will happen naturally and likely without you knowing and won’t require much effort.

Be mindful that a founding team's values are likely to be aligned. It’s why you went into business together. Whereas well-funded and high growth startups may have the time and resources to spend on investing in their culture and putting plans in place for managing this while they grow, for others it is important to bear in mind how the changing roles of established leaders will affect the culture in the long term as their company scales.

Clearly define your values and purpose

So, you have established the culture that you want your business to embody. As the company grows, there needs to be a concerted effort to be more deliberate about the defining values that you operate under.

You may be scratching your head at what your purpose is, could or should be. If this is the case, you are not alone. As a first step, take into consideration how to make all aspects of your business part of a meaningful mission. Are there any hooks that are at the heart of your organization that really engage your employees? This is the core of your values and what will make people stick around.  

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