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Goering Center news: Let culture be your guide

By Brian Miller

When we think about what key features make a company a great place to work, compensation and benefits are most likely the first features that come to mind. Although compensation and benefits are very important, we often fail to recognize the importance of work culture as a deciding factor in attracting and retaining employees.

Culture can be defined as the DNA of a company. It's what makes up a business’ character and personality. Culture is the total of a company’s values, traditions, beliefs, behaviors and attitudes and determines how employees respond to certain situations and interact with coworkers and clients.

Successful organizations understand that their business culture is just as important as their business strategy. In fact, a recent study conducted by Deloitte found that 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a defined work culture is important to business success. A mistake some organizations make is letting their workplace culture form without first defining it.

Changing a culture is not a simple task to accomplish, because it involves changing how we behave. Despite the challenges presented, there are more options for employers today that should be considered.

Culture starts with key leadership

A company’s culture begins with the behavior of its leaders. Consequently, the first step in defining a workplace culture should be to ensure company leadership is setting the kind of professional example you want the rest of your company to follow. Culture is learned behavior. Leaders are chiefly responsible for demonstrating the beliefs of a company and supporting actions that reflect those values. Culture change starts when leaders begin to model the behavior they want the organization to imitate.

Define core values

Leaders should create a list of core company values that give employees purpose for the work they do. Connecting employees to a purpose beyond profits empowers them to produce great work and creates an environment of goodwill. Reinforcing core values often can also aid in defining workplace culture. It is important to showcase employees who embody company values and to discuss core values in key meetings and during the onboarding of new hires. You can also display core values on the company website, social media outlets, company handbook and office walls. Your workplace culture will represent your core values if they are ingrained deeply within your business.

Invest back into the community

Workers newly entering the labor force place the opportunity to volunteer and give back more highly than the generations before them. In fact, most millennials would prefer to earn less in order to work for a company that is considered socially responsible. Incorporating philanthropy as a key component in your workplace culture is more important than ever before. The first step in introducing philanthropy to your company is to understand which causes and organizations matter most to your employees. This can be accomplished through informal conversations with your employees or through formal employee surveys. The next step is to then allow company time and resources to support those causes. This can include offering employees paid time off to volunteer, directly donating to organizations chosen by your employees, matching donations made by your employees or organizing service days for employees to participate. Keeping charity visible at your company will create a strong sense of community and connection, as employees learn more about their coworkers outside of the workplace setting.

Keep a healthy perspective on work-life balance

Successful companies are those that establish cultures where employees are encouraged to use paid time off, spend time with their families and achieve a sense of wellbeing. Separating the professional from the personal is nearly impossible in today’s modern world. Although it is important to uphold a sense of professionalism, an employee's welfare highly effects their performance and engagement at work. Employers can meet the needs of their employees by allowing more flexibility, investment in the professional development of employees, promoting socialization among peers, establishing better leave policies and creating an environment that encourages health and wellness.

Benefits of positive workplace culture

Companies that are intentional about creating a well-defined, positive workplace culture reap the benefits, as they are more likely to have loyal, committed and engaged employees, increased productivity, lower rates of absenteeism and increased revenues.

Featured image at top: Photo/Jamie Street/Unsplash

Brian is a consultant and shareholder with McGohan Brabender Cincinnati region. Reach Brian at 513-489-2700 or

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit

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