Culture is critical to business. A company culture that is defined can be a guiding and empowering force for employees to do great work and enable your firm to deliver on business objectives.

Yet some may think the idea of culture is irrelevant to business results because it feels intangible. But, in fact, all businesses have a culture and it is reinforced every day—whether its leaders realize it or not. When a culture is shaped with intention, it can deliver real value for the organization. Yet on the flip side, when a culture forms haphazardly, it can actually work against you.

In the financial services industry, where trust is integral and client relationships are the backbone to the work, a firm’s culture can be an important differentiator. When clients understand your values and see it demonstrated though the service you provide, it creates meaningful connections and strengthens their relationship to your firm.

Joining The Culture Club

Creating a culture doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a year, for that matter. It must be shaped with intent, demonstrated consistently and have accountability. Firms might assume it is formed out of a mission statement or a code of conduct. But it is much more than that. Culture is shaped by the people, the workplace and the practices of the organization. Everything from how people engage with each other to the ways that employees feel valued feed into the culture of an organization.

Determining where you place value and how that shows up in your organization are driven largely by the programs and practices that are designed to support your talent, or your human capital.

While there are many ways to shape a culture, initiatives that are employee-centered and can be acted upon consistently are key to being able to shape its direction. They can include:

  • Empowering employees: Offering learning and development opportunities and access to tools and resources that create efficiencies and make employees’ jobs easier—such as technology that streamlines processes or service providers outside of your firm to do specialized work—can enable employees to do their best work. When talent matters, you are also more likely to see a workplace culture that values competitive compensation and reward programs. Ultimately, employees that feel respected and valued deliver better results for your business.

  • Placing a focus on people managers: Supporting people managers with the tools and resources to do more than be subject matter experts, but to unite teams, earn trust and lead by example, can become a defining part of a culture. Setting a performance expectation around managing people can be as impactful as whether managers are delivering on any business outcome.

  • Creating an enabling workspace: Something as fundamental as the work environment—considering the significant role it has on employee wellbeing—can reinforce a culture. Providing flexible workspaces and onsite amenities, for example, are employee-centric features that create a comfortable and convenient environment. That impacts behavior, enabling them to be more collaborative and efficient with their time, creates pride in a workplace, fuels productivity and helps a firm retain and attract the best talent.