Date posted: 27/01/2017 3 min read

The business case for investing in culture

How to create a great workplace culture and why it’s good for business

In brief

  • Boosting productivity and happiness in the workplace can be challenging
  • Personality types can greatly influence and affect the way a company functions
  • Being available 24/7 can really hurt company culture

Creating a thoughtful office culture is one of the most important frameworks to work out when building or restoring any company. Whether you’re a CEO, or a manager looking to better engage and motivate employees, this is the best place to start.

According to a 2016 LinkedIn survey on why people change jobs, more LinkedIn members said they valued workplace culture over company benefits and compensation, and chose to move on from jobs because they weren’t happy in the current environment.

Some businesses choose to focus externally instead of looking internally. They spend more time looking outside the business, analysing what the market is doing, closely watching their competitors and valuing other company structures instead of assessing their own.

A good office culture can create a productive – and even fun – atmosphere and encourage a team to work better, be more enthusiastic and grow together.

Boosting productivity and happiness within the confines of a structured workplace can challenge even the most experienced HR professional. The following factors need to be considered.


Within every business, there is a hierarchy. If the hierarchy breaks down and if messages aren’t delivered in the right way, the overall culture can suffer. Good management controls messages that build morale. Poor management fails to communicate and disrupts the hierarchy.

Personality types

The type of personalities you hire can greatly influence and affect the way your company works together. Some personalities work easily together, while others bring each other down. It comes down to behaviour and as an employer or manager, it’s important to understand what drives people to do their best work.

As Carol Myss outlined in Archetypes: Who Are You?, there are ten primary archetypes, including the creative, the intellectual, the executive, the visionary, and the advocate. When people know their strengths, and managers tap into that, they can hire the best team to grow the business.

Office politics

Power, influence and office politics can play a big role in steering workplace culture. When the chain of command breaks down and personality types clash because people are either in the wrong role or team, a company cannot thrive.


Competition is healthy, but only when it boosts productivity. When colleagues start targeting each other to benefit themselves rather than benefitting the business, little can be achieved.

Unconventional ways to build company culture

  • Ban coffee cups at desks

    During a recent TEDx talk, business leader and author Margaret Heffernan suggested that businesses that invested in “social capital” were more likely to thrive.   

    As part of her research, she discovered one company going so far as to ban coffee cups at desks to ensure employees spent time socialising at the coffee machine. 

    Heffernan understands the value of social capital and welcomed this company’s initiative to encourage its workers to get to know each other. She is a firm believer that when people know each other, they are more creative, collaborative and enjoy working together. It’s a win-win for businesses.

  • Banish sick days

    In a recent TV interview, Ivanka Trump said that she doesn’t check and track sick days. Instead, she believes that it’s about hiring the right type of people.

    When she interviews people, she looks for self-starters. She said that when you hire right, you don’t need to monitor people and keep track of their sick days because they just want to work and grow the company with you.

  • No late-night emails

    Being available 24/7 can really hurt company culture and send the wrong message to employees. 

    When a boss sends an email to a staff member after the work day has ended, they often feel like they need to respond or action it immediately. 

    Down time is essential for everybody. It inspires creativity, fuels ambition and allows time to rest. 

    When you send messages after working hours, you’re encouraging your employees to work too, effectively setting the wrong tone for your business – that you are “on” all the time. 

    A good company culture thrives when it recognises the personal needs of its employees. When employees thrive, so too does the business.