Company culture is the heart of a business, a set of shared beliefs adopted by all the people in the organisation and supporting its strategy and structure.
According to Deloitte’s research, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe strong company culture is essential for a thriving business. In today’s day and age, employees expect a lot more from the company than just a paycheck. In fact, a recent LinkedIn survey found that 65% of people would rather put up with lower pay than endure a bad workplace environment.
Work performance, collaboration, job satisfaction, and employee loyalty, are just a few of many elements that help build a strong company culture. Your employees care about your defined work culture and your company vision, this is especially true since the outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, employee engagement has become even more crucial than ever before, and now is the time for companies to reflect on their company culture to prepare for tomorrow.
But what is company culture? In simple words, it is your company’s persona. Whether the company is innovative, inspiring, entertaining, or challenging the status quo, it’s personality traits are established through its values, mission, and vision, woven into everything the company does.
Company values are the heartbeat of your business. They are there to help you create a sense of purpose with the idea to help you deliver excellent customer service, build a great team, and foster innovation and new processes. Moreover, the company’s core values guide the decision-making process, especially during difficult situations.
Your mission statement is your company’s purpose, its reason for being. As such, setting a clear mission statement should be the primary goal for a business so as to tell the world why your business exists, but also why it matters.
Studies show that having a purpose beyond profit margins helps keep employees engaged and increases the likelihood of retention by 27%.
A clear vision for the company gives an overarching purpose and essence of where you want to take the business, depending on your goals and aspirations. Not knowing the direction your company is heading toward is like using a GPS without entering the destination.
The questions you need to consider include “where are we going?” and “how will we get there?”. Your vision statement should communicate your long-term business plan and goals.
With a clear set of values, mission, and vision, you are able to humanise your business, rendering it more approachable and easier to understand. This gives your employees and external stakeholders more visibility to work towards achieving the same goals.
But, how do you get there? Let’s explore a few key steps to consider when building or remodeling your company culture.
Communication & transparency is key
Effective communication is crucial to fostering positive company culture. Whether it’s communicating changes, company goals, values, or even maintaining overall trust, transparent and open communication is a must with your employees.
Communicating goals and expectations to your staff is a particularly important step. Employees need to know what is expected of them so as to perform adequately. It empowers them and makes them confident in the work they do. Not only do they feel engaged, but with a sense of direction, they can contribute toward a shared purpose for the business.
As an employer, you need to ensure that communication is flowing both ways. Every employee should feel comfortable sharing their views openly, and this is one of the key success indicators of having a good company culture. If the current company culture is not conducive to open and honest conversations, then they must be given the means and tools to participate.
Know where you’re starting from
Before changing or rebuilding your company culture model, it is essential to have a good understanding of the current dynamics i.e. what is working and what is not, as well as current climate.
For instance, in response to the pandemic, most businesses have had to adopt a new work culture, and refocus their company goals. Hence, these changes should be reflected before altering your company culture policies.
According to CultureIQ, 86% of employees in companies with strong cultures feel their senior leadership listens to them, compared to 70% in companies where culture is not as defined. To get a comprehensive understanding of the current state of your company culture, it’s best to have a conversation with your employees and see what’s working for them..
We recommend conducting formal assessments such as employee engagement surveys, employee referral rates, voluntary turnover rates, or employee ratings and review sites. Ensuring that employees feel safe to share their genuine opinion, consider including anonymous surveys or gathering employee representative groups.
These company culture assessments should be organised regularly (quarterly, semesterly, yearly) to help engage with your employees and work together towards achieving company goals.
Otherwise, you could follow the lead of other larger organisations which have culture committees to collect other employees’ ideas, questions, or concerns and work together with the HR department to bring them to fruition.
Embrace feedback and act on it
38% of employees say they want to make a difference. By embracing feedback and taking employee suggestions on board, the company shows they value employees’ contributions. After going through the feedback and results, make a plan to implement new and reformed strategies that will communicate your values effectively with your employees.
Lead by example
As a leader of the company, you have to lead the way for your employees. Starting with top-level management, executives must show support for the cultural change by adopting the change themselves. Exemption to the rules sends conflicting messages, fostering distrust and disengagement from collaborators.
Expressing gratitude, smiling often, and leading the way during difficult times with an optimistic approach are some of the most efficient ways to gain employees’ trust.
Celebrate those who are implementing company values in the work they produce. Or those who are going above and beyond for their clients and for their peers. Acknowledging the work of your employees is rewarding and keeps them motivated.
What gets recognised gets repeated, and the leaders that leverage recognition as an everyday tool for building a strong culture, outshine organisations that don’t.
Build your team up
The HR department plays a big role in keeping values, mission, and vision alive for the company. From recruitment through to all the stages of an employee’s life, HR paves the way for their experience by setting policies and tools to keep them happy and engaged.
As such, building a strong HR team in-house or outsourcing your HR to a company with shared values will make a considerable difference to your company culture as a whole.
Further to this, managers also play a vital role to play toward building the team. Since they have a direct rapport with their team members, managers witness daily how an employee is feeling or behaving. An employee and manager also often share mutual trust, where they get fresh and immediate feedback from one another.
Based on their employee feedback, either the manager can take direct action to resolve an issue or report that same feedback to their HR. Thus, managers often work as a mediator for their team. As such, hiring the right leaders for your organisation will also positively impact your company culture and business success.
All in all, your best culture ambassadors will be your most engaged employees throughout your organisation. By embracing the company’s values, they constantly remind their colleagues what the company stands for.
During the hiring process, HR should focus on the candidate’s values and ambitions and ensure they are aligned with the company’s values. This is particularly important to reinforce the company culture. However, the focus should not solely be on the values, but also on what new ideas and processes will contribute to the expansion of the business.
Take care for your people
“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business”
– Richard Branson
No matter how formal and corporate a company culture is, the essence remains its people. They need to feel protected and cared for, in return, they will give their best to your business.
Most importantly, supporting your employees with their professional growth and providing them with opportunities will not only retain them, but also result in finding a new pool of talent.
As they say, “a strong company culture is an essential component of a company’s success”. With that in mind, it’s crucial culture evolves and adapts to changes fast, as this will have an undeniable impact on the company’s ability to be resilient.
As we’ve seen in recent times, many businesses have had to redesign their business models and adopt new working policies due to COVID. In the end, businesses that have succeeded riding the wave through the crisis have all had a clear direction, transparent communication, and prioritised employee engagement. These components together contribute toward building a positive company culture for your employees, which in turn, positively impacts your business’ growth.