“Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.” – Howard Stevenson

If you follow blogs on entrepreneurship or read articles on business and management, you’ll have probably heard the word ‘culture’. But what is it exactly?

Culture is the character and personality of a company which is influenced by everything. Leadership, management, workplace practices, policies, people and more. All have a significant impact on a company’s culture. It’s what makes a business unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviours and attitudes.

Positive workplace culture attracts talent, drives engagement and retention, impacts happiness and satisfaction and affects performance. Each culture has different tactics and unique qualities but universally, culture is about the employees. Making sure that they have a fun and productive working environment which will positively impact performance.

In fact, recent research conducted by BreatheHR revealed that in 2018, poor company culture:

  • Cost the UK economy more than £23.6 billion.
  • Caused 34% of workers to leave their jobs.
  • Was the reason why only 23% of employees stated that they really trusted their leaders.

It has been consistently proven that organisations with stronger cultures outperform their competitors financially and are generally more successful, which means that investing in a positive company culture makes great business sense.

Here at ExtraMile, we are wholly committed to creating a positive workplace culture for our team. Staff engagement and human resource strategy are at the very heart of our company, being an integral part of our DNA and vision. Our commitment to our Investors in People (IiP) accreditation sets the standard that defines what it takes to lead, support and manage people well for sustainable results. Having been awarded Gold status in 2018, we are now committed to obtaining the next level of IiP –  the Platinum award.

We have also recently received further recognition for our commitment to positive company culture by being announced as finalists in the prestigious Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards – ‘Employer of The Year” category. This award recognises the commitment to an outstanding human resource and staff engagement strategy. It considers all aspects of the strategy including recruitment, training, development, communication, employee working practices (including work-life balance), environmental impact, community outreach and corporate social responsibility. We are thrilled to have been shortlisted as a finalist, as this is a very strongly contested category.

Additionally, we have signed up to the Breathe Culture Pledge’.

This is a growing movement of UK businesses demonstrating their commitment towards investing in their company culture to benefit their people and propel their business forward. Supporting people and putting them first can make a positive difference in people’s lives and to-date, over 300 UK small businesses have signed the Pledge which was launched in 2018 by Cloud-based HR software provider BreatheHR.

Managing Director of ExtraMile Gabrielle Hadley comments: “We believe that our team members are the life-blood of the business and therefore central to our ongoing success. By signing the ‘Breathe Culture Pledge’ ExtraMile is proudly acknowledging its commitment to creating a progressive workplace where our employees will feel valued and appreciated. From the minute people walk into our office, we want them to know that this is a different place with a unique culture.”

As part of our acknowledgement that a positive and supportive workplace culture is key to productivity, people’s happiness, personal development and therefore business success, ExtraMile undertakes a twice-yearly ‘employee engagement survey‘. This survey allows our staff to tell us what they are happy about and what they would like to change within the company; how they feel about the culture and how they think it can be improved. We compare each survey to the previous results and from this analysis, we can take appropriate measures to alter/improve the company culture and to inform our HR strategy and training plan.

For example, we were asked to improve recognition, training and development and additional holiday days. These issues have all now been addressed with the implementation of reward and recognition, a skills matrix to address training needs and managers awarding time off for staff who achieve their objectives.  We were also asked to consider flexible working and have recently implemented flexi-time. This working arrangement allows staff to fit their working hours around their individual needs and accommodate other commitments outside of work, so further improving the work-life balance.

A large part of the ExtraMile company culture is reward and recognition. We believe that this is paramount to positive employee engagement, so have developed a programme of employee reward and recognition which includes:

  • A monthly ‘Kudos’ award voted for by staff and monthly celebratory ‘scrum’ which focuses on positive team achievements and reveals the winner/s of the Kudos cup for that month.
  • Celebrating great achievements and company landmarks with team nights out.
  • We have free tea, coffee and cakes  – our team of budding amateur bakers love to bring in their latest bakes particularly to celebrate ‘work-versarys‘ and birthdays.
  • No one wants to work on their birthday – we give staff an extra day of annual leave for their birthday.
  • Each team member is allocated a colleague for whom they buy a birthday present and card up to the value of £50 which is given on behalf of the company.
  • Every week we have ‘Fun time Friday’ where all staff choose their favourite songs to fit a theme e.g. divas, summertime etc., from a jukebox app. From 4pm to 5pm we will listen and sing along to these tunes whilst still working.  

At ExtraMile we believe that the workplace should not be something that people dread every day. Employees should look forward to coming into work, they should enjoy the challenges, their co-workers and the atmosphere. When you put a focus on culture, this will give you guiding principles your company will be recognised for and your employees will live by it. It’ll help get you through difficult times and get all your employees working towards the same company mission. In some sense, it’s the glue that keeps the company together. To us, here at ExtraMile, this is why culture matters. Culture sustains employee enthusiasm and happy employees mean greater productivity and a more successful business. A win-win situation all around!