What Does a Good Culture Look Like?

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What does a good culture look like?

A good culture looks like something that goes beyond making a profit. Don’t get me wrong. Profit is necessary, but there has to be something attached to it. A good culture is a positive, people-centered environment for employees that includes the company mission, ethics, values, and goals.

We have talked about people-centered environments and organizations, and I can’t stress how important this is. Your employees are your greatest asset, and they should be the most important. In healthcare, you can argue that the resident’s health is most important, and I’m not disagreeing with that. But I am saying that the employees should be just as important as your residents.

“Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business.” – Richard Branson

A good culture is when employees don’t want to leave. Most people want to grow in their occupation. Growth doesn’t have to be a promotion. Growth can be a lateral move while learning new skills. Growth can be more decision-making power. There are so many things that employers can provide for opportunities for growth that don’t involve a promotion.


Another important part to a good culture is instilling a sense of purpose in your employees. As an example, a nurse can be a nurse anywhere. A nurse has job duties, and between different competing healthcare organizations, those job duties are mostly the same. In a purposeful organization, you stop saying, “You are a nurse, and these are your job duties,” and instead, you say, “You are a nurse, but your purpose is entirely different.”

I am a faculty member at Baldwin Wallace, but my purpose is something different. So, on my business card, it says:

John Fuehrer
Associate Professor

And what I love is that on the back of that business card in really small font, it would have my purpose because my purpose is much longer. It’s developing people, developing young minds, and letting them see the world through study abroad.

Let’s think back to nurses. On their business card, it says, “Nurse,” but what’s on the back of that card? It’s “Saving lives and helping families.” If you can get people more connected to their purpose and not their position, you create an aligned, positive culture. There is a term called the “velvet handcuffs.” It means the company has you cuffed, but it’s kind of comfortable. The purpose is making a difference in people’s lives.

If your potential employees can’t buy in to that purpose and are only there for the sign-on bonus or money, you need to say thank you very much and not hire those people. Now we are going full-circle back to our original problem. You have qualified candidates, but they are not the right fit. Making those tough decisions will save you so much money in the long-term.

What we are talking about here is a cultural shift. It can take years of attrition and hiring the right people, but it’s worth it.

The people you are left with are the people who have bought into creating a positive culture and making a difference. Those people build a positive, contagious culture that will encourage other like-minded people to join.

So, what’s on the back of your business card?

Read part 1 of the blog, How to Attract & Retain Good Nurses, here.

John Fuehrer, Associate Professor, Baldwin Wallace University

I’ve been teaching at Baldwin Wallace for eighteen years. I teach in the area of organizational behavior, or behavioral theory management. We look at the behavior of people in organizations and the psychology of doing business. Everything I do is nonquantitative. We don’t use formulas to figure out how to lead people or keep people at an organization. We study different theories and test to see what works.

From a professional perspective, I took over a business in 1994 that focuses on helping organizations find the right people. We do that through a number of different tools, ranging from online assessments to the application of the organizational behavior theories I mentioned before. The online assessments help us understand more about a person’s behaviors and personality. The last step is assessing the fit of a particular person for a particular organization or employer.