We know what you’re thinking…well, that title isn’t exactly creative. We hear you, but that was purposeful, because when it comes down to it, company culture seems fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, even in today’s progressive and innovative work culture, there still appears to be confusion among why company culture matters and what it really is. Let’s start by clarifying what company culture is not: it isn’t something that can be transformed overnight, it isn’t tradition, and it isn’t who you are. We’ll get into all of that in a bit, but in the meantime, we’ve identified three core reasons why company culture matters and how to break through the culture static.
How we function while we’re together at work
Americans spend roughly one-third of their lives at work, so it should come as no surprise that in order to have a thriving culture, it’s important for teams to work well together. How we dissipate friction and encourage behaviors that bring us closer together and lead us to feel better while we’re at work are some of the building blocks of great company culture. Building that positive work environment also goes hand in hand with this mentality, and organizing around what’s important while we’re at work, and checking almost everything else at the door. For our team at Staffing Solutions Organization, LLC (SSO), that means delivering great talent to our customers and building our attitudes around that common goal. What we tend to see when helping other organizations is that many tend to confuse culture with tradition. We regularly hear statements like, “our culture is to hire within,” or “our culture is to offer unlimited paid time off.” While it would be easy, that isn’t culture…it’s tradition and policy. Culture is what connects us to the work that we’re doing and it effects the how well we perform that work on a daily basis.
An easy and effective way to gain a pulse on your current culture (sometimes it’s not always what you think it is), is to simply pulse your employees. Questions like: "How do you feel when you walk in the door at work?", "Do you feel encouraged and supported by your team", and, "Are most days good days at (your company name)?", can prompt discussions that employees have most likely been having one-off and unite your company to make a positive change.
Manage culture globally, apply it locally
As an organization grows, you hire more employees (naturally) and expand into more locations. In order to ensure enterprise expansion is successful and that you continue to retain employees, it’s critical to manage your culture globally but apply it locally. While this isn’t a new concept, we still see organizations struggle with maintaining the culture that has contributed to their growth and success, and not completely letting expansion swallow it. As an organization, you should be able to pull out core aspects of your culture that are non-negotiables when hiring regardless of where you are on the map. For example, if your company tends to hire self-starters who thrive when working independently, but you’re expanding into a new geographical area where boundaries are tighter and more direction is typically needed, it’s critical to have leadership in this area that understands both models and can help bridge the divide. These leaders will be critical to you morphing your existing company culture with local culture to ensure a seamless transition.
Engagement is everything
How do you know if you’re creating or have the culture that you aspire to? You must start by examining your level of employee engagement. When you have engaged employees who truly care about the future of the organization and its growth, that naturally leads to a positive culture. However, this can’t just be on the leadership and management level, it needs to start there and trickle down to each and every employee. One trend we’ve picked up on that many of you have most likely also noticed is, that employees aren’t shy when it comes to sharing what’s working and what isn’t. If you have leadership in place who is open to listening and acting, you can catch poor engagement in its tracks and work to transform it. Our favorite question to ask that effectively measures engagement includes: "Would you recommend others to come work here?" If the resounding answer tends to be "Yes" and you’re seeing an increasing number of employee referrals, you know you’re doing something right.
One way to measure this is to track how many of your external hires are employee referrals. For us at SSO, that number consistently hovers around 40 percent which not only is a tangible way to measure if your employees are engaged, but is also the lowest cost of talent and highest quality of talent. If the answer to that question tends to be “No”, and your employee referral rate declines, it’s time to reevaluate your program and associated incentives (many employers, including SSO, offer $1,000 to $5,000 per referral). How are actively are you measuring engagement within your organization?