By Roger Harry, CEO of Circle IT
Enron is long dead but its lessons about corporate values endure. The company’s failure in 2001 represents the largest business insolvency ever while also highlighting corporate ethical faults. For me, on the verge of establishing Circle IT that year, it is a stark reminder of the danger of unhealthy work values and that misplaced morals can kill a company.
And while Enron won’t be the last example of corporate collapse, its story did initiate a concept in business ethics, culture and values. Corporate culture is at the core of sustainable success at Circle IT, resulting in a committed, engaged and trusted workforce. Without that, no strategy can work and as Enron has proved, enterprises will collapse.
Experience tells me that work places with a good culture always outperform other companies in terms of financial performance as well turnover rates. Employee engagement is vital part of the puzzle. Owing to social websites Glassdoor and LinkedIn, a company’s employment reputation is now unrestricted so if we’re not a great place to work, people find out - and fast. If we were to leave the culture unchecked and focus on the bottom line only, toxicity at Circle IT would set in fast and the behaviours of unmotivated or unhappy employees would spread through the organisation quicker than is the case at a bigger company.
A positive workplace culture leads only to positive benefits, helping align our values with actions. It provides our team of 85 with a shared sense of unity and it helps create and uphold suitable principles of behaviour and productivity across my firm. Working in technology, it’s vital that we not only keep our product offering ahead of the curve, but our employer offering too. As a long-term advocate for the value of company culture I would say authenticity, people and control come first and foremost.
Authenticity, through clear and honest communication, is key to long and meaningful relationships with employees and something I just don’t find with every Tom, Dick, and Harry - it takes work and is not something that one finds in every organisation. It is essential to have an authentic and transparent workspace that fosters bright ideas and encourages all to voice their opinions.
As Howard Thurlow once said: ‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive’. It is essential that we recruit people who are full of passion and commitment for the business. We put employees as well as customers at the core of everything we do, and this drives our financial performance.
Giving my staff a sense of authority – a feeling that they are in control and with decision-making authority increases their energy, focus and self-discipline.
Becoming a great company does not happen out of the blue. Having a great culture is the result of a long-term investment in staff. Research studies reveal over and over again that investment increases productivity, recruitment and retention – all positively impacting financial performance. We don’t just do it because it is the right thing to do – we do it because it’s good for business.