Ask any business owner about the biggest challenges facing their company and they are likely to state one as engagement is lacking (and if it’s not mentioned first, you can bet this issue will crack the top three for “up-at-night” issues. Engagement is important because it drives productivity, employee happiness, and even the likelihood that a person will stay on the job.
One of the key actions to drive engagement is to create a strong corporate culture that employees not only understand but embrace. Corporate culture tells employees what the company believes in – it’s vision, values and beliefs – as well as helps employees understand how their work contributes to these goals. It is an aspect of the business that should be defined long before you opened the doors and is communicated early and often to your employees.
Which brings us to the issue at hand: How do you best communicate your company’s culture to your employees? Here are top six tips for making your culture part of your company’s everyday operations for every employee.
Take It From The Top
Seems fairly obvious, but as the company head, you have to understand your company culture. As an owner or executive, you must set the example; be sure to practice it and communicate it from the top down. You should be transparent about what your vision is, how it influences your business decisions and how you envision the culture carried out in the workplace. You should also strive to teach managers and other front-line folks how they can help promote it to those under their watch.
Walk the Walk
Once your company culture has been fully developed, you need to make sure that your actions fit with that culture. After all, the fastest way to make employees doubt that you mean business – and thus scrap any notion of buy-in – is to contradict yourself. If your culture states that giving back is important, for example, then you should take the lead to set up volunteer opportunities for yourself and your staff then give them time during the workday to fulfill these commitments. Similarly, if your culture places family first, then you should offer your workers flexible scheduling, work from home opportunities, and other perks that make balancing a family just a little bit easier.
Applaud the Effort
You’ve invested in communicating your strategy, and your employees are finally picking up on it and incorporating it into their day-to-day lives. Mission accomplished? Well, yes, but reinforce these behaviors by calling out the efforts and praising employees for their commitment to the cause. Consider sending a monthly, company-wide email praising the work of those that are really promoting company culture or even offer an incentive for those who participate in culture-enforcing activities on a regular basis to continue this forward momentum.
Always, In All Ways
Your company culture needs to be incorporated always, and in all ways possible in order to be successful. Your marketing team needs to be demonstrating it when they’re making sales, your customer service and account management folks should utilize it in with every interaction with clients, and human resources need to be looking for cultural fit whenever they are thinking about filling a job vacancy. This last one is, in fact, perhaps the most important. Having a good cultural fit with a company is tied in multiple studies to success on the job, as well as employee happiness.
It is unrealistic to believe that all employees will be uniformly engaged in your company culture. Rather, there will be those that embrace it and those for which the topic of culture will almost always induce an eye roll. When recognizing this array of engagement, it is wise to recruit ambassadors who continue to champion your company’s culture to others. While, optimally, ambassadors would be higher ups in the company as they may have the most ability to influence opinions, but it’s essential to recruit employees from every level to spread the word and keep the company culture alive and well, no matter the job function.
Be Honest About Slip-Ups
If you make a business decision or your company somehow otherwise deviates from your stated culture, take steps to fix it in an open forum. You need to meet with employees and explain why the decision was made, what drove the thinking behind it, and how you expect the culture to change. If it was an oversight – and doesn’t constitute a change of course – state why and reassure your employees and state that culture is now more important than ever and recommit yourself to the cause.
A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can help you develop, define and communicate your company culture.