If you were to search the word ‘culture’ in Google it comes back with over 2 billion results. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. With over 2 billion websites competing for your attention, how do you compete when trying to build a magnetic workplace culture?
So, if you’re about to embark on rebuilding your workplace culture where do you start? There’s so much to consider and knowing that nothing you do will be perfect can make starting discouraging. But as you all know, starting is the hardest, yet, first step. That’s why we’ve narrowed it down to the four most essential aspects of great workplace culture. Here’s how you can get started building today.
First of all, why does this matter?
There have been countless studies that show how an engaged employee leads to some positive outcomes for business leaders and their workplace culture. Here are a few examples of what can be gained when companies take workplace culture seriously:
- 54% more likely to have employees that are Promoters on the standard NPS scale
- 53% more likely to have highly engaged employees
- 29% more likely to have employees innovating and performing great work
- 27% more likely to have increased revenue last year
- 22% less likely to have experienced layoffs in the last year
- 25% more likely to have teams growing in size instead of stagnating or decreasing in the last year
Those stats are impactful and more leaders are already seeing the impact of cultural initiatives across the organization. As the workplace evolves, culture is even more impactful and effective when it comes to just enjoying every day.
The Top Four Places to Start
When it comes to putting the time and energy into building a great culture, it’s easy to start with one area and hope you get all the benefits. However, it’s just not that simple. Time coupled with intent and persistence is the greatest determinant of the success of these efforts but where should you focus?
From our studies in working with our clients and hundreds of other companies who “get culture” here are the four most common things these leaders focus on:
Purpose: means connecting employees to your organization’s reason for being or the difference you make in the world.
Appreciation: means acknowledging and recognizing employees’ outstanding work and unique contributions
Opportunity: means providing employees with the ability to learn new skills, develop, and contribute.
Leadership: means connecting employees to purpose, empowering them to do great work, and creating a sense of camaraderie.
These four focus points are just the start, there are even more areas employees want you to take seriously. However, when these four points act as workplace cultural pillars used to build other great initiatives -great things happen. We’ve seen it.
Getting workplace culture started (today)
Once you’ve established the most important pieces of a great workplace culture, the next step is to build processes, events, people and leadership protocols to support and grow these ideas.
Purpose is all about connecting your people with their “why”. The easiest ways to do this are first by crafting their position around core competencies or skills. Then finding the best candidates to fit those based upon not only experience but interest level. That’s right. If you’re hiring a product developer, then you want someone who is passionate about that topic. It’ll give them the lasting drive and motivation to keep doing great work when others want to start.
The next step is to continually give people the chance to show how their contributions fit to the overall company mission. The best way to do that is with an employee recognition strategy that not only recognizes (see the next point below) employees for their efforts but also connects them to their purpose in a public setting so their colleagues can see that impact as well.
Appreciation is always a cornerstone of great places to work. The most common theme amongst the Forbes list of best places to work is “appreciation”. Employees who feel valued continually come to work and find other great employees to work right next to them (NPS).
Our guide to employee recognition is a great place to start if you’ve never thought about a formal employee recognition program. But if that’s even too fancy, start simple. Have weekly morning meetings with your team. Make them informal. Make them fun (bring doughnuts!) and take the first 5 minutes to celebrate the successes of individuals who have been building the team up.
Opportunity comes in many forms. The easiest way we’ve seen teams embrace opportunity as a workplace culture initiative is by making their internal job board postings always available to everyone. It seems almost too simple. This is one low hanging fruit you could pick today.
Opportunity also means giving employees ways to get better at their craft. Instead of tying outcome-based incentives around financial or physical rewards, give an employee the chance to earn credit hours of study at a local college. Let them choose the educational track they’d like to embark upon, approve it with a manager, and put the carrot out there.
Leadership is probably the most important and yet most difficult of these four workplace culture essentials to master. Why? First of all, it’s hard to find great leaders. A recent Gallup study about leaders in the workplace found that over 80% of employees think they’d make great leaders but bare 20% actually have the makings to be one.
Start by creating a “Leadership U” and invite potential leaders to join. Fill it with a curriculum that builds leaders (using the book “The Energy Bus” as a foundation is very popular) and helps vet to see who emerges as potential talent.
This is also about engaging existing management and leaders. One way we’ve seen teams build great leaders is by increasing the transparency around decisions. If you have a major decision coming up, just inform your management base more than you normally would. That one effort alone might be what you need to increase engagement amongst your managers.