IS IT TIME TO RESHAPE YOUR CORPORATE CULTURE?

by Amy Ransom

Which companies come to mind when you think of a winning corporate culture? Entrepreneur shares a list where Zappos is at the top, followed by Warby Parker and Southwest Airlines. There is a good reason why these companies are so successful. They are very deliberate with hiring people who want to be part of a team working toward a common purpose. As human beings, we crave meaning in our lives. Without a sense of purpose, there is no real drive. However, when employees are happy and feel fulfilled with their work, they perform better.

What does company culture really mean?

“Company culture is the backbone of any successful organization,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most forward thinkers in business. The current concept of culture in the workplace was introduced by Dr. Elliott Jaques in his book The Changing Culture of a Factory. The idea of organizational culture took off in the 1960s when businesses found that their unique mission could give them a competitive edge over similar companies. Culture encompasses the core values and principles that drive the organization. Some may think of company culture as the ‘north star’ that guides the behaviors of employees, starting in the C-Suite. Others might view the culture as the firm’s personality. Culture could be what the business wants to be known for and as a differentiator from its competitors.

Is a turnover tsunami on the way?

Organizations around the globe are experiencing conditions many of us could only have imagined. Over the last eighteen months, we have seen companies challenged to quickly retool their processes and procedures because of the pandemic. Minimizing disruptions to customers has been the top priority for many businesses. As a result, more than thirty percent of companies say they face challenges with maintaining a positive corporate culture.

As if the past year hasn’t had enough disruption, there is a trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs. The movement has been labeled the Great Resignation or the Big Quit. In fact, 65% of employees are currently job searching.  Let that sink in a second. Next, consider what your employee base needs in terms of culture to keep them happy, productive, and committed to their job.

During the pandemic, employees have taken the opportunity to reevaluate their priorities. They took an honest look at their work/life balance and job satisfaction. While working remotely, some people utilized the time they would have been commuting to develop new skills or take online courses. Others were feeling the painful sting of a forced pay cut or furlough. All these factors are driving individuals to consider making a career or job change.

Why companies should consider making a culture shift.

The cold hard truth is that organizations that don’t adjust their culture to this “new normal” will be hit the hardest by employee resignation. The workers most apt to be looking to leave their jobs are those that have been working remotely this past year. They see a return to the office on the horizon and are reluctant to commit to going back to the way things were. Workers are also feeling burned out and underappreciated for trudging through this difficult and historic time. For those considering a change, picking the right culture to join ranks as the third most important factor, behind benefits and hours.

Protecting your employee base.

Company culture is everything, especially when Shift Happens! Leaders need to recognize those employees that have stayed committed to the organization and maintained a high work ethic. Let team members know that they are important, valued, and appreciated. Offer flexibility where possible when considering how and when to bring employees back into the office. Provide options for attending meetings, either in person or virtual, so that people who have grown accustomed to working remotely can maintain the new balance they found last spring.

Companies will have to work harder to foster connections and drive purpose for their associates. People want to feel that what they are doing makes a difference. It will also be imperative for companies to help remote workers build workplace connections and foster authentic work relationships to help combat feelings of isolation. Offering instant messaging tools for projects and quick exchanges is one option. Make sure to have channels that serve as a place for water-cooler talk, as this is a way for work from home (WFH) employees to build relationships with colleagues. In place of monthly office celebrations, some companies send a cake or pizza to an employee’s home to recognize accomplishments or birthdays. Other companies have created online scavenger hunts to encourage a culture of team building.

Is there a link between culture and performance?

Culture makes the difference between engaged teams moving in different directions and aligned teams working toward a common goal. Companies with a positive culture can retain their most valuable assets, their people. These organizations provide collaborative environments (even virtually) where teamwork leads to great success. The same report found that four in 10 strongly agree with the statement, “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” By moving that ratio to eight in 10 employees, organizations could realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 50% drop in safety incidents, and a 33% improvement in quality.

Employees that exhibit corporate ideals should receive recognition for leading by example. Managers should give praise and acknowledgment as soon as possible. Let your staff know what specific behavior has been observed and how it is making a positive impact. Another way to encourage and motivate associates to live by corporate values is to promote peer-to-peer recognition. By recognizing desired behaviors, an individual will continue to be inspired and committed to supporting the culture, which drives performance.

Positive culture is linked to job satisfaction and work performance. According to Forbes, “Strong company cultures have been linked to higher rates of productivity. This is because employees tend to be more motivated and dedicated to employers who invest in their well-being and happiness.” Having a fun culture does not necessarily drive business results. Culture should be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) that are well defined, consistently coached to, and are measured. When all these components align with the purpose of the organization, positive business success will follow.

Amy Ransom

With more than 15 years of experience in the field of performance improvement, Amy Ransom delivers a fresh perspective to every interaction. Her objective is to help business leaders identify and bridge organizational gaps in order to accelerate positive business impact. Amy is an Associate Vice President at PDG.

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