Why Copycat Company Cultures Don't Work
You can see copycat culture everywhere, from digital marketing agencies, recruitment agencies to big tech firms. No matter your industry or sector, it’s easily done.
In fact, I often like to play a little game called company culture bingo to see just how many similarities I can spot. Whether it’s the office dog, the ping pong table or games console, to the classic bean bag meeting room. And let’s not forget the ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality.
While these are all material things that can be spotted from the outside, it doesn’t take long to realise that the material objects and work perks are all that there is to these cultures.
There’s no vision, no direction, and instead, culture is seen as the social aspect of the organisation rather than the thread that runs through it all.
I’ve detailed what company culture is in a previous post, if you’re still unclear, as I truly believe this can still be an area of confusion. Whether you’re unsure of what company culture means, or just don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a unique culture, it’s important that you steer clear of copying others.
By only creating a copycat culture you put your business on the backfoot. Not only making growth a real struggle but losing money on culture assets that won’t work in the long term.
Here are three key reasons you should avoid creating copycat cultures.
They don’t engage people
Engagement often gets confused with happiness. But engagement is something deeper and more meaningful for the employee, and ultimately more valuable for the company.
Engaged people make better decisions because they understand more about the company, and the context they operate in. They are more productive because they like or even love what they’re doing, and they innovate more because they want the company to succeed.
Inauthentic company cultures will not engage people, as your vision and values are not embed in every action and behaviour that runs through the business.
Instead, they’ll question ‘why’ to everything that is brought into the culture that doesn’t feel like it truly aligns with the vision of the business?
And if they feel like benefits or work perks are there ‘just because’ rather than meaning, they’ll quite happily move to another organisation because it has just the same perks. The risk of losing something valuable is far less.
Too many organisations are relying on workplace benefits, rather than looking at the bigger picture. You’re not the first one to adopt a cool workspace or company benefits, and you’re certainly not going to be the last, but the difference lies in your ‘why’.
You won’t attract people who believe in your vision
Recruitment is expensive both in terms of time and money. It’s a huge drain on resources, and when you’re a small business this can be a serious pain point.
However, when you have a unique company culture that is aligned with a vision and acts and behaves to make this vision a reality, people buy into it and want to be part of that mission.
I’ve worked with a number of organisations who’ve removed the cost of recruitment because their company culture is so unique they receive CV’s even when they’re not recruiting.
If you only create a copycat culture a few things will happen in your recruitment process.
Firstly, you won’t attract people who believe in your vision, which in turn means they will not be as driven or engaged in their role. They will see their place within the organisation as ‘just a job’ rather than part of a bigger purpose.
Secondly, the glamour of your faux company culture will quickly wear off, and people will feel disengaged and disappointed that the company is not all that it seemed to be.
They Don’t Make Your Business Future Proof
The world around us has never been more open and connected, which means competition is more fierce and innovation happens at lightning speed.
To give you a real sense of just how fast the world is moving, the radio was invented in the early 20th century, but it took 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. 100 years later, it took the iPod just four years to reach the same size audience. Even more astonishing, it took Facebook three years, and the game Pokemon Go just 19 days. The race to 50 million users gives us a clear indication of how quickly organisations have to move.
Thanks to technology, even small, highly engaged teams can compete with larger, slower, competitors.
With the speed of technology and innovation changing our world, our organisations need to keep up and maintain relevance in an ever-changing social landscape.
Great company cultures enable businesses to remain relevant, agile and more creative. Strengthening their ability to be future-proof.
An inauthentic company culture, does none of this, as those plastic perks can quickly become meaningless to employees, and outdated in a heartbeat.
It’s also a very materialistic way to look at culture. Making things look good from the outside, rather than having a serious impact across the entire organisation.
A company’s culture needs to be thread through everything a business does, and it’s only by doing this can you adapt to change.