The Importance of Culture in Your Organization

I have had the good fortune of working at Johnson Health Center (JHC) for nearly four years.   And I’m proud to be associated with a team of talented individuals, who have achieved many accolades, including the Employer of Choice Award in May, 2016.  When I reflect on what contributed to achieving these results, I can sum it up with one word: culture.  We are lucky to have a CEO with a vision and the leadership to have helped us build it.  He’s led us to believe that if we set our minds on something we can achieve it.  And we’ve been able to do it through building an outstanding culture of dedicated teams.

What is culture?

Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of – generally unspoken and unwritten – rules for how they will work together.  Your culture is made up of all of the life experiences that each employee brings to the workplace.  

Executives should embody and spread your company’s core values, but they can’t do it alone.  Company culture cannot come strictly from HR—nor from any one department.  To create a thriving, employee-centric culture, there must be a grassroots effort among employees—a groundswell of sorts—to create accountability, momentum and widespread buy-in.

Gary Anetsburger writes in Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture, “To realize long-term growth and success, organizations should consider the effect that culture has on the “why” in our lives. Why are we doing what we are doing and why do we stay in our current jobs?  We see culture as the behaviors, beliefs and values that an organization accepts and are ingrained in daily life. The company you work for is a big part of who you are and working at a place with a strong “do right” culture can help provide that level of purpose many of us seek.

Another important point in building a reputable culture is realizing that it is subject to constant change. Without people, there is no culture. And when the people change, the culture changes with it. Maintaining a strong culture for your employees requires honest answers to some ongoing questions, like who are we, who do we want to be and how are we going to get there?”

That’s what gave me the idea that we need a culture committee, The JHC Employer of Choice Culture Committee.

What is a culture committee?
A culture committee is a group of cross-functional, diverse employees who regularly meet to identify issues and plan ways to create a desired culture throughout the organization. Anyone in your organization should be eligible to join, but you should prioritize diversity and inclusion. You want to ensure that no one area of the company has greater influence over culture development than any other.

You may ask, “Why do we need a culture committee?”  Very few companies intentionally work on their culture—in fact, many companies just let culture happen – and we don’t want to be one of those companies – and neither should you.  Companies should be as intentional about culture as they are about strategy and business model innovation.

In our culture, we have many men and women, well into their 60’s, 70’s, and even a few in their 80’s, who are actively engaged in our workplace!  Working with aging Baby Boomers (present company included) and especially Traditionalists was a new and refreshing phenomenon in the workplace for me.  We truly have five generations at JHC and it’s amazing to see them work with each other!

Next, you might ask “What’s the secret sauce to enable them to work well together?”  The answer can be found in our five Core Values: Respect – Integrity – Teamwork – Innovation – Excellence.  Just spend some time in one of our nine locations, and you’ll quickly see how we’re all focused on “walking the talk”.  Like every organization, issues arise, but when we take the time to take a step back and focus on one or more of our Core Values, we’re able to resolve most of our problems.   

What does the culture committee do?
Culture committees should work to create a groundswell of support for the culture traits and behaviors you’re keen to spread.  We selected 12 employees, representing a good cross section, who were good communicators, and would be charismatic culture champions that support JHC’s mission, purpose and values.  Another important purpose of the committee is employee engagement.  Having your finger on the pulse of the employees’ viewpoints will help us develop programs and actions which will address our employees’ needs.

As we have already said, very few organizations intentionally work on their culture—in fact, many just let culture happen.  We want to be an intentional organization, an Employer of Choice – how about you?


End Notes

Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture by Gary Anetsberger, Workspan Daily, July 31, 2019

How an employee-led committee can elevate your culture by Annette Franz, December 5, 2018