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Culture Can’t Be Calculated

November 14, 2023

Culture is one of the most overused and least understood words in business.

It’s kind of like the word “branding.” Everyone has a different definition about what it means, so when we discuss it in our organizations, it’s hard to justify devoting valuable time and resources to cultivating it.

I understand why many businesses struggle to clarify and prioritize culture work when they are creating a budget and managing pressing issues. 

Will culture improve the bottom line? Yes. But you might not see those results immediately.

You can’t always quantify culture.
You can’t measure it.
Even if you pay for some fancy survey, you might not fully know what the return is.

Culture is an investment that ultimately improves employee engagement, makes it easier to attract talent, and ensures that customers feel cared for by your people. This happens over time, and we can’t always quantify it. Yet, this doesn’t make culture any less valuable.

Albert Einstein famously said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Sadly, many organizations don’t realize how much they need to invest in their culture until the culture has gone wrong. A bad culture reeks to talented team members. It makes it nearly impossible to recruit and even more difficult to retain, affecting your customer experience and ultimately, your bottom line. 

There’s an approach to reframe the way you think about culture– I know it’s helped me. Think about culture the same way you think about friendship.

C.S. Lewis said,

“[Friendship] like art has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

You don’t need friendship to survive. But surviving without friends is lonely. Friendships are life-giving.

In the same way, culture might not immediately improve the operations of your business. However, culture makes the work—the profitability, the growth in operations, the overcoming obstacles, the reaching goals—worth it! 

Like friendship or art, culture isn’t necessary to the survival of your organization, but it gives value to employee experience, which in turn pays huge dividends.

Here’s my challenge to you today: invest in the culture of your organization.

Schedule the team lunches.
Plan the overnight retreat.
Check in on your team members individually to see how they are doing.
Celebrate wins—big and small!
Extend care to people when they are hurting.
Encourage your team members to go out to lunch and find ways to connect outside of their weekly huddle.

Income alone is not enough to attract and retain talented individuals. Inspiration is crucial to fostering the kind of culture that your team members want to be a part of for the long haul.

So, what are you waiting for? Go for it. Invest, encourage, inspire. Prioritize culture in your organization and see how it makes the work worth doing.


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