"Train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to." – Richard Branson

People. The most valuable and the most volatile resource your organization has- constantly changing and growing, like the ebb and flow of the tides.

Whether you’re a part of a new start-up or a well-established business, your people are your most valuable asset, one that can be the key to the ultimate success of an organization.

The question is, how do you maximize the potential of your most important resource?

A simple question which you will find a plethora of complex and contradicting answers, most focused on a major business buzz word – Work Culture. Simple enough, right? But what does work culture really mean? And how do you go about implementing one in your organization that works for you and your fellow employees?

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is work culture?

Many human resource sources simply take the Webster’s Dictionary definition of culture, and tack on a generic business related sentence at the end, not providing any real concrete clarity on the meaning of this new term,

"...a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals, and myths all companies develop over time..."

Awesome. It’s a flash back to that Anthropology 101 course you took in your first year of university, following your pipe dream of becoming just like Indiana Jones – only to find out that Indi’s world only exists in a Steven Spielberg reality.

So, again you ask what work culture is. To be completely frank, the true definition is entirely of your own making… It is meant to be created and moulded to fit the specific characteristics and needs of your organization and the people who make the company possible. Your work culture is the environment that surrounds you at work, it is created in a highly interactive manner, because it is shaped by the collaborations of every employee – from the owners and managers to that new intern that started last week. It is the behaviour that results when a company’s most valuable assets, its people, come to a set of unspoken and unwritten rules for working together.

While this may seem to be an insignificant component of business, the ramifications of not having a positive work culture can be profound.

Think about it.

How productive are unhappy employees? The reality – a lot more unproductive than you even know. According to the 2013 American Workplace Report by research and polling company GALLUP, an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion is lost each year because of unproductive and unhappy employees in the United States alone.

I bet work culture has your attention now.

Work culture is the personality of a company from an employee’s perspective. It is what makes you want to get up at 6am every day to come to work. It drives you to want to be engaged and enthusiastic about your job. It’s what motivates you to go the extra mile on that big project, it’s why you care about the company’s success; because the company’s success is your success, because you are a part of the culture of the company.

Now, this isn’t to say that when you have a great work culture that you won’t have unhappy people, some people just couldn’t care less – but at least they will stick out like a sore thumb.

Happy people are more likely to solve difficult problems faster. A positive company culture encourages solutions, inventions, and innovations that may not have been fostered in a poor company culture.

Now you’re asking yourself, "Ok, I get it, company culture, its important, but HOW do I develop my own company culture?!"

Take some time to sit down and examine your own work history. Regardless of your position in the hierarchy of your company, everyone contributes to and feels the effect of the work culture.

Pay attention to your fellow employees this week, what drives them and makes them whistle while they work? Talk to your colleagues about why they love (or hate) working in your company’s current work culture.

Keep track of these important details this week, and tune in next week for the next step in helping to create your own positive work culture!

Until then, remember...It Starts With People.