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  • robmarkwell

Culture is more complex than just “great” or “toxic”

Having a defined culture is crucial to not only in attracting talent into the business but engaging current teams and driving performance.


However verbalising and describing culture is not that straight forward.


So understandably many businesses lean on the more tangible aspects of what they believe defines culture such as team outings, social events and soft perks. You just need to log onto LinkedIn to see the deluge of company posts of their team enjoying breakfast in the office, top biller bottles of bubbly, a lavish holiday away… and everything in between.


Don’t get me wrong, I think these things are great - rewarding your sales team for performance or making them feel part of something special is absolutely the right thing to do. But with a more educated job seeker and the public visibility of such incentives (mainly through LinkedIn), that simply isn’t enough and, in my opinion, does not define culture.



Put simply, are soft benefits and snacks all it takes to create the culture you want for your business?



I’m proud to say that most recruitment businesses I have encountered are run by genuinely decent people who, although the success of the business is the primary objective, deeply care about providing a fun, caring and driven working environment. But so many, despite genuine efforts have fallen short of this. No amount of lunchtime coffee runs or office Olympics seem to do the trick. That can be very frustrating for senior leadership teams often creating inconsistency in communication.


Part of our work at BlueInk is often to interrogate an organisation’s culture.

And often the preconception is that either a company’s culture is “great” or “toxic”. The reality is much more complex than this with a plethora of nuances.


If your culture is not working, it doesn’t mean you are a bad place to work or even bad managers. But culture should drive performance, engagement and loyalty.

So chances are if you are experiencing issues in one of more of those areas, the likelihood is that culture is misaligned. And the fix isn’t soft benefits.

I see soft benefits as the icing on the cake of culture. We all like icing but it’s not the core of what makes you an appealing place to work, stay and excel.


Culture is deeper routed, it is in your values, it is in performance management, conflict resolution, everyday business operation, every piece of communication (internally and externally) and it is there to serve the best interest of the business, which in turn supports every single member, from CEO to intern.


Realigning culture can be uncomfortable and if not done correctly can add to your challenges. It is one of the most common exercises we do with businesses when starting a project. The great part of the exercise, is that it is inclusive, collaborative and always delivers a renewed focus and drive.


Culture really is everything.


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