Company culture—the words that every business leader has likely heard in the boardroom, at leadership seminars in budget decision meetings more times than they could count in the last few years.
They’re two simple words but, for leaders striving to navigate uncertain markets with a sharp focus on recruiting and retention, they hold quite a lot of power. However, keeping that power in the top brass of an organization can actually defeat any progress on the horizon for organizational culture.
That’s because the world of work today is different. Employees were already starting to build momentum in the employee-employer relationship—and COVID dramatically accelerated that shift. Now, after the events of the last few years, employees don’t just want a say in what their company stands for, what it’s like to work there, what the future holds—they expect it. According to HubSpot, nearly 70% of employees said they would be better workers if their employer appreciated them more—and there’s no better way to communicate an employee’s value than by including them in building company culture. The proof is there: According to a report in Forbes, companies with successful cultures—where employees are valued and focus is placed on quality leadership—see nearly four times the revenue growth of companies with less cohesive cultures.
Clearly, employers need to deliver on employee expectations.
So, how do business leaders make culture-building more than a boardroom exercise? There are a number of proactive—yet simple and cost-effective—strategies to fuel culture success that is built on collaboration:
While business leaders certainly have ample experience sharing ideas to fuel strategy, inviting individual contributors across the organization into that process only expands the potential for innovation. Employees across all levels experience the organization differently—so, to rightside a culture, it’s key that leadership truly understands what those day-to-day experiences look like.
Inviting employee feedback can’t just be a check-the-box exercise; leaders need to actually consider suggestions and act on concerns and issues. And when the answer has to be “no,” it’s important to provide clear, straightforward reasoning.
Frontline managers are among the keys to unlocking culture success, as they have their fingers on the pulse of the employee experience. Ensure they’re well-versed in business objectives and future strategy, and equipped to communicate that to their teams; at the same time, managers need to be ready to build inclusive atmospheres that allow all their employees to take an active role in building company culture.
Embed culture change consistently
Culture change that speaks to all employees can only be sustainable if it’s companywide and consistent. Leadership needs to ensure that the attributes that define the organization’s culture are present in policies and practices, business strategy and people strategy, and that they are palpable in employees’ everyday experience.
Any business leader knows that collaboration is a key driver of innovation—and company culture is no exception. By making culture work an enterprise-wide effort, organizations can ensure they are leveraging the power of their greatest asset—their people—all while speaking to their need for inclusion and empowerment.
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