Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and practices that shape the work environment and influence how employees interact with each other and with the organization as a whole. It encompasses the company’s mission, vision, and goals, as well as the way it conducts business, treats employees and customers, and approaches problem-solving and decision-making.
A strong company culture can foster a sense of belonging, motivation, and engagement among employees, leading to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better retention rates. It can also help attract top talent and differentiate the company from its competitors. On the other hand, a negative or toxic culture can lead to low morale, high turnover, and poor performance. Therefore, building and maintaining a positive company culture is essential for long-term success and sustainability.
With four distinct generations of worker potentially collaborating in companies all over the UK, we found it interesting to look at the differences between what each generation wants from work, and how you can take a quick look at how a company is doing in this area.
What do people want from work?
Having a broad age range in a company can lead to diverse perspectives, knowledge sharing, improved communication, better customer understanding, and increased innovation. These benefits can help a company thrive and succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. Managing to get the best out of everyone requires some understanding of what each group desires most in their work.
Baby Boomers (born roughly between 1946 and 1964)
Baby Boomers have different expectations and desires when it comes to work compared to other generations. Here are some key things that Baby Boomers want from work:
- Job Security: Baby Boomers value job security and stability in their careers. They seek out jobs that provide a stable work environment and long-term job security.
- Competitive Salary and Benefits: Baby Boomers value a competitive salary and benefits package. They seek out jobs that provide fair compensation and benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
- Recognition and Respect: Baby Boomers value recognition and respect for their work. They want to feel valued and appreciated by their employers and seek out jobs where their contributions are recognized and rewarded.
- Loyalty: Baby Boomers value loyalty in their careers. They seek out jobs where they can build long-term relationships with their colleagues and employers and feel a sense of loyalty to the company.
- Meaningful Work: Baby Boomers want to work for companies that align with their personal values and make a positive impact on the world. They seek out opportunities to do meaningful work that they feel is contributing to a greater cause.
Generation X (born roughly between 1965 and 1980)
Generation X has different expectations and desires when it comes to work compared to other generations. Here are some key things that Generation X wants from work:
- Work-Life Balance: Generation X values a healthy work-life balance and prioritizes time for family and personal life. They seek out jobs that allow them to have a fulfilling personal life outside of work.
- Career Growth: Generation X values continuous learning and development. They want to work for companies that provide opportunities for career growth and development. They seek out companies that invest in their employees’ professional development.
- Autonomy: Generation X values autonomy in their work. They want to have control over their work schedules and to be trusted to work independently. They seek out jobs that allow them to work autonomously and have a high degree of control over their work.
- Job Security: Generation X grew up during a time of economic instability and job insecurity. As a result, they value job security and stability in their careers. They seek out jobs that provide a stable work environment and long-term job security.
- Competitive Salary and Benefits: Generation X values a competitive salary and benefits package. They seek out jobs that provide fair compensation and benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
Millenials and Generation Z (born roughly between 1981 and 2012)
These groups have different desires and expectations when it comes to work. There is a lot of crossover between the groups but we have listed them together as they are distinct from Generation X and Baby Boomers in many similar ways.
Here are some key differences in expectations:
- Work-life balance: Generation Z values a healthy work-life balance more than previous generations. They prioritize flexible work arrangements and are willing to sacrifice high salaries for more time off.
- Diversity and inclusion: Generation Z is the most diverse generation yet and expects their workplace to reflect that. They place a high value on diversity and inclusion, and seek out companies that prioritize these values.
- Meaningful Work: Millennials want to work for companies that align with their personal values and make a positive impact on the world. They seek out opportunities to do meaningful work that they feel is contributing to a greater cause.
- Social responsibility: Generation Z is highly aware of social issues and expects companies to be socially responsible. They want to work for companies that are making a positive impact on the world and align with their personal values.
- Collaboration and Feedback: Millennials value collaboration and feedback in the workplace. They want to work for companies that foster a supportive work environment where employees can collaborate and provide feedback to one another.
- Career development: Generation Z values continuous learning and development. They want opportunities for career growth and development, and seek out companies that invest in their employees’ professional development.
- Technology: Generation Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age. They are highly tech-savvy and expect their workplaces to be as well. They want to work for companies that embrace new technology and use it to improve efficiency and innovation.
I’m pretty sure if you’d asked me twenty five years ago ‘how does this sound?’ I’d have bitten your hand off. Some of the less positive media content around this does sometimes feel as though it comes from a jealous/envious place. See: ‘we never had those luxuries’ ‘should be grateful’ ‘entitled’ and so on.
Note: an Xennial is a member of an age group born after Generation X and before the Millenials – specifically in the late 1970s and early 1980s They are distinct from all other generations for having experienced an analogue childhood and a digital teenage/adulthood.
If you need help with building a strong, modern company culture and values, there are several steps you can take:
- Identify your goals: Start by identifying what you want to achieve through a strong company culture and values. This might include improving employee morale, reducing turnover, or increasing productivity.
- Assess your current culture: Conduct an assessment of your current culture to identify strengths and weaknesses. This may involve surveys, interviews, and focus groups with employees. (see list below)
- Define your values: Define the values that you want to promote in your company. These should be aligned with your mission and goals, and should guide decision-making at all levels of the organization.
- Develop a strategy: Develop a strategy for building a strong company culture and values. This may involve changes to policies, procedures, communication channels, and training programs.
- Implement your strategy: Implement the strategy, working closely with your HR department, managers, and employees to ensure that everyone understands and supports the new initiatives.
- Monitor and evaluate: Monitor the implementation of your new culture initiatives and evaluate their effectiveness over time. This may involve additional surveys or assessments to measure progress and identify areas for further improvement.
- Seek outside help: Consider working with a company culture consultant to help guide you through the process and provide expertise and support.
How to Take A Snapshot of a Company’s Culture
There are many professional companies who specialise in this area and can help companies small and huge to make meaningful changes to their company culture and working practices – we are not one of those. Having done our own work internally on this subject, we picked up a few helpful tips on getting a quick overview on the situation.
You can quickly assess you own company culture by following these easy steps:
- Observe the physical environment: The physical environment of a workplace can provide some clues about the company’s culture. Look for signs of employee engagement, such as bulletin boards, employee photos, and decorations. Are there any areas for socializing, such as a break room or common area? Do employees seem happy and engaged or stressed and disengaged?
- Look at the company’s website and social media: Review the company’s website and social media presence to see how they portray themselves. Are they showcasing their employees and highlighting their achievements? Are they promoting a fun and innovative culture?
- Review online reviews: Check out online reviews from current and former employees on websites like Glassdoor. Look for common themes or concerns, such as management style, work-life balance, or opportunities for growth.
- Talk to employees: If possible, talk to current or former employees about their experiences working for the company. Ask about the company’s culture, work environment, and any challenges they faced.
- (If you are considering working for a new company:) Pay attention during the interview: During the interview process, pay attention to how the interviewer describes the company culture. Ask specific questions about the company’s values and how they are put into practice. A simple open question like “What would I see in here on a really good day?” will start a conversation about what it’s like to work there.
Remember, building a strong, modern company culture and values takes time and effort, but it can have a significant impact on the success of your organization. Be patient and persistent, and be willing to make changes and adapt as needed.
Related External Articles:
Why Leadership Development Programs fail
Four Things Brilliant Leaders do to Maximise Employee Happiness
Debretts Guide to Etiquette for Hybrid Work