“Once a culture is understood, lived, and shared from the bottom to the top, it can jumpstart engagement.”
With happy employees shown to increase employee productivity by upwards of 12%1, energizing
company culture has become a strategic imperative. Before we broach the challenge of energizing a culture, it must first be defined.
If a company’s mission represents the heart of the organization, culture is its soul. We define workplace culture as an organization’s character and the culmination of values, stories and observable behaviours.Yet, while a strong and consistent workplace culture can power positive behaviour, we also know that employees’ actions ‘when no one is watching’ can influence, and drive company culture. This promotes the need for an organization’s culture to align at a macro and micro level to maximize its effectiveness. In other words, behaviours need to be congruent with stated values and culture.
It can also be argued that a strong organizational culture should result in a more engaged workforce. With employee engagement numbers hovering just over 32%2, the drive to improve organizational culture has never been more top of mind. Here are 6 ways to galvanize and energize workplace culture:
1. UNDERSTAND & ASSESS YOUR CULTURE, THEN BRIDGE THE GAP
Companies need to understand who they are and what they stand for before they can begin to nderstand and define their culture. Often times the disconnect between senior management and front-line employees is the source of the problem. Focus groups and surveys are a great way to understand the pulse of your company.
Once there is a clear understanding of the existing culture, involve front-line employees and key influencers to help define ‘ideal’, and ascertain the next-steps to bridge the gap.
2. THINK RECOGNITION VS. MONETARY ‘DISTRACTIONS’
Financial incentives may create temporary employee satisfaction but they have been shown ineffective In motivating employees long-term. Alternatively, something as simple as positive recognition has been shown to increase team productivity by approximately 30%3.
3. TRUE TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION
Regardless of the specific culture of a company, one universal truth is that two-way communication between front-line employees and senior management will foster a more engaged workforce. A recent study by Deloitte Consulting suggests that this communication needs to be in person and can’t be limited to social media, even with Millennials. Senior leaders need to embrace transparency, while very selectively withholding information when necessary.
4. OWN IT
Culture should be unique to your organization. While there may be examples of companies that have an engaged culture, the goal should be to foster a unique, positive, and inclusive culture versus fitting it into a mold. What works for other companies may not work for yours. Observe behaviour when no one is watching, especially when times are tough, to truly determine your organization’s culture.
5. GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS
Some companies favour bloated functional skills resumes versus employee fit and talent. The technical aspects of most roles can be learned, while the compatibility of a new hire with an existing culture is much more uncertain. Companies shouldn’t compromise when new employee values and the existing culture are not aligned.
“Build a team of people who work together, who care and who learn and you’ll end up with the organization you deserve. Build the opposite and you also get what you deserve.” Seth Godin continues, “Function is never an excuse for a dysfunctional organization, because we get the organization we compromise for.”
Reduce the strain of indoctrinating new employees to a culture by developing robust internal mentoring Programs and succession planning to allow promoting from within. And, offer coaching to all employees to further their personal and professional development.
6. LEVERAGE WELL-BEING INITIATIVES TO SHOW EMPLOYEES YOU CARE
Two-thirds of employers have realized that a culture of health should be a top priority4. While a culture of health may be a priority, it isn’t what defines your culture. Wellness programs need to align with your existing culture. Think availability versus obligation.
Wellness programs need to be flexible. They need to allow employees to work at their own pace, where they want to focus. Leveraging periodic challenges can then catalyze engagement to help recruit those that may still be skeptical.
Positioning these programs as non-mandatory perquisites vs. obligations will further reinforce the altruistic nature of the program.
We also need to show employees that we care by listening, showing empathy, being respectful and lifting each other up through encouragement and inspiration.
1. An organization’s culture needs to be lived, shared, and discussed at all layers
2. Monetary incentives are decreasing in efficacy, where positive recognition are reaping greater benefits
3. Employee well-being needs to be a key strategic imperative for all organizations
2. Gallup 2015
3. S. Achor, The Happiness Advantage
4. Employee Health and Business Success, Making the Connections and Taking Action: Summary of the Global Findings of the 2015/2016 Staying at Work Survey, Willis Towers Watson
ABOUT THE WRITERS
Gary LeBlanc (B.Eng, MBA) – CEO of Ikkuma and positivity grenade – spent over a dozen years managing strategic operations for tier 1 companies. He’s now following his passion… to engineer a solution for our generation’s wellness.
Beth Corcoran (MA, CHRL) – Managing Director at Corcoran Consulting and shoe enthusiast – is a business consultant and coach, based out of Toronto, Canada. Beth has worked with thousands of employees as a coach, advisor, trainer, teacher, and clinician.