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It starts with culture

The growing importance of HR was evident in the fact that the recent PPA Festival kicked off with a panel session about people.

By James Evelegh

It starts with culture
Tom Bureau, with panel moderator Mary Langan, speaking at the PPA Festival. Photograph: PPA.

“Purpose is the engine of long-term profitability,” said BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink in 2020.

Fink was quoted in a panel session at the recent PPA Festival on ‘how to cultivate a successful company culture’.

In the session, Immediate Media chairman Tom Bureau said that “culture is our secret weapon” and that “performance follows culture”. Immediate Media employs 1100 people. If, said Tom, they all get up every morning looking forward to going to work, then we’ve “won already”.

That is why they put considerable resource behind maintaining a strong company culture.

In January, Immediate Media was ranked the 4th best place to work in the UK by the Glassdoor Employees' Choice Awards 2022, and voted the best media company to work for overall.

So, how do the rest of us go about creating a successful culture?

“Be purpose-led,” said Tom, echoing Larry Fink. People are emotional beings and are increasingly asking themselves, “what kind of organisation do I want to work in?”

To be successful, you have to be that kind of organisation. There is no oven-ready fix; it takes time, but the sooner you start the better.

Success will involve a range of interlocking factors, which when combined, make yours an attractive place to work. These will include: what you do and why you do it, who you employ and how you treat them, how you look after and develop your staff, your attitude to issues society deems important like diversity and climate change and the integrity of the operation as a whole.

Crucially, company culture comes from the top. If senior leadership doesn’t believe it and can’t articulate it, then your efforts to be the kind of company that people want to work for will be hamstrung.

“Leaders have to be the ultimate role models,” said Tom, which is why when you find yourself with a character problem within your senior management team, someone who doesn’t buy into the company culture you’ve painstakingly put together then, err… they need to be shown the door, and quickly.

For the greater good…


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