What Culture Really Means

Creativity in your workforce

Yesterday, I was at my desk, desperate to finish a blog on positive business culture and why it matters.

My coworkers, sensing my despair (perhaps it was the head in hand…and the tears…I kid) took pity. 

Despite the late hour, one after the other stopped to talk me down off the ledge.

“Do we have anything I can help you pull from the existing content?” asked Allison.

“I’ve heard if you just start writing, you’ll make headway,” said Chris. 

“Want to brainstorm?” asked LaDonna.

Some provided friendly conversation (Brian). Others offered welcome distraction (Elaine). Still others offered a reprieve and told me to go home (my boss).

Evan asked if listening to The Climb would help. He was kidding. I think.

This in addition to all the people in my department (Jeannie, Naoko, Randa, Erika…) and out (Catherine, Evan, Jonathan, Alan…) who ask me and each other some version of, “How can I help?” every day.

And it occurred to me that’s why business culture matters.

The internet turns up millions of articles (4,460,000 in 51 seconds, according to Google) that tell you lots about it.

Culture defines employer brands, they say.

It retains people.

It attracts people.

It wins for best workplaces.

Almost everyone (90% according to one study) says culture is important. 

What those articles don’t tell you is that culture helps you get stuff done. As a consultant once told me, “when people feel connected to their team, they’re more creative. When we feel safe and supported, we think in an entirely different way.” As we’ve also written before -- we’re also a lot happier than in toxic workplaces, which, according to this guy, are killing us. The catch is to benefit, you have to put your values down on paper – and you have to mean them.

So the idea of culture may be what gets people in the door.

But the honest-to-goodness practice of culture is what gets work done.

“I was thinking about you this morning,” wrote my colleague Allison a little while ago. “I wondered what you came up with.”

Thanks everyone for the inspiration.

Turns out…I couldn’t have said it any better than that.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

January 24, 2019

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.