3 ways to be intentional with company culture
Culture is woven into the fabric of how work is done. Here are three ways to create an intentional culture that drives business success.
Google Trends shows that searches for workplace culture peaked at the end of 2021 and, after dropping in early 2022, have risen to previous levels. Culture may be one of the hottest HR terms of the year, but it’s been hard to pin down exactly what culture is.
Culture is simply the way work is done. It’s not just a company picnic or casual Fridays. This is how the organization makes decisions, behaves, communicates, celebrates and recognizes employees.
Culture exists whether leadership is working to shape it or not. If you haven’t protected your crop for the past two years, it may have slipped your mind. Even if you think you’ve mastered your organization’s culture, that doesn’t mean employees agree. To be more intentional about organizational culture, you need to understand how employees experience it.
Quantum Workplace research shows employees rate the culture as strongest in three aspects:
- Statement of mission and values
- Recognition and celebrations
- Approach to employee performance
The key to a strong company culture is making sure it builds employee engagement. Engagement is the strength of the bond between an employee and their workplace; it is the result of an excellent corporate culture. If your employees are not engaged, your organization’s culture may not be maximized to engage employees or may even weaken engagement. Here are three things you can do to steer your culture toward increased engagement.
Assess your approach to performance management
Think about how performance intersects with engagement. Employees thrive when expectations are clear and their work aligns with company goals.
Studies show frequent conversations have a positive impact on employee performance. Employees need feedback from their manager in order to improve. They want their goals aligned with organizational goals to see how they contribute to business success. And they want to feel empowered to make decisions about how work gets done.
How to create a culture of performance?
- Listening employee. You need to know what problems exist before you can fix them. Listening to employees gives you information to work with. Analyzing feedback against other metrics you already track, such as turnover, helps you uncover trends and better understand what’s happening within the organization.
- Goal alignment. Employee goals should be linked to team and organizational goals. Connecting the dots aligns employees across the organization and helps employees see that their contributions matter. Have managers discuss organizational and team goals, and work with employees to set their own goals.
- Ongoing conversations. The annual performance review is not enough. Employees are looking for more consistent feedback. Conversations that happen more frequently lead to employee success. Encourage managers to incorporate weekly touchpoints with their employees. Combined with monthly one-on-one interviews, more frequent conversations improve transparency and trust and create a culture of feedback.
Increase confidence in leadership
Trust may seem rare these days, but Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 Indicates Employee Trust their CEO and co-workers more than other leaders outside of the workplace. That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. This opens the door to great work cultures built on trust.
Strong relationships are built on trust. Relationships at work are no different. In fact, employees want to know that leaders are leading the organization to success and have their best interests at heart. By using trust as a building block of organizational culture, you create a strong web of strong relationships throughout the organization.
How to create a culture of trust?
- Listen. Much like your approach to performance management, listening to employees is the start of building trust. By being open-minded and listening to employee perspectives, it shows employees that their opinion matters, that their work is critical to the success of the organization, and that the organization cares about their work experience. Encourage managers to ask employees what is going well and their ideas for improving processes.
- Transparency. Clearly communicating the organization’s vision, progress, changes, and explaining why it all helps employees understand the reasons for decisions. Having a conversation, even if it’s not pleasant, helps people understand the environment and build strong relationships. By taking a few minutes to explain a decision to employees, managers can see how their leaders think and trust them to make good decisions.
- Stock. Be sure to follow the speech. Trust comes from not hearing leaders say words employees want to hear. It’s seeing the actions of leaders match what they say. If you ask employees for feedback, be sure to follow up. Link decisions and changes to their feedback.
A Gartner report found that only 24% of employees felt recognized for their work. Employees feel valued, engaged and motivated when they are recognized for their work. Commitment and performance are linked to recognition. Recognition has been proven to increase productivity, retention, and engagement, not to mention create a workplace culture that employees want to participate in.
Recognition should be different depending on the person or the circumstances. It doesn’t always have to be public. It doesn’t always have to come from a supervisor. Establishing a culture of top-down recognition can also help increase peer recognition.
How to create a culture of recognition?
- Attach to values and behaviors. It’s not just about recognizing employees. It is What the organization recognizes. Recognizing specific actions sets a positive example for behaviors to continue. Try acknowledging an employee for demonstrating one of your core values, or encourage managers to recognize good behavior they’ve displayed that they want other employees to adopt.
- Highlight goals and efforts. This type of recognition refers to performance. Employees like to rush to a highlighted achievement when their boss calls it. You also need to recognize when employees go above and beyond or put a lot of effort into a task or project. When an employee or team achieves their goal, celebrate. If a big project is finished, acknowledge the hard work that went into it.
- Be authentic. Provide recognition that matters. Don’t put recognition as a requirement on your to-do list. Recognition can be as simple as an instant acknowledgment of a good idea or a thank you email. Remind managers that recognition doesn’t have to be an extravagant celebration. It can be small and still significant.
Creating a culture that employees want to be part of isn’t just about improving the employee experience. It’s about creating an environment where people want to work and being more competitive in recruiting new workers. Engaged employees who are bound to the organization by an excellent culture are your best ambassadors in recruiting new talent who are looking for an excellent work experience.