How healthy is your company culture?
Company culture can be one of those “soft” terms that people use a lot without fully understanding it means. And it’s true the term “company culture” can be so broad it’s almost impossible to define.
That said, there are some signs you can look at to judge whether or not a company has a great culture. A healthy culture generally goes hand-in-hand with the following:
- a strong company brand,
- high employee and customer loyalty,
- employees who exhibit a sense of purpose at work,
- little trouble attracting and retaining top talent.
Great company culture is invaluable. Meanwhile, there’s almost no faster route to a whole host of problems (including high turnover, poor productivity, poor employee retention rates, and low customer satisfaction) than poor company culture.
Because HR professionals are responsible for improving employee engagement and workplace communication, they wield an enormous influence on the culture of their company. By communicating your organization’s vision, mission, values, goals, and objectives across the company—from your in-house employees, to contract employees, to deskless workers—you create alignment with employees, which will help you achieve your strategic business goals.
Insights about culture from a Gallup Employee Engagement Survey
Most companies don’t address culture in a direct way and instead leave the formation of culture to chance. However, a passive approach can lead to a lot of potential problems. if you don’t actively shape great company culture, it’s very likely that lack of attention will affect your interactions with customers, and that may quickly have a negative effect on your bottom line.
Here’s a good statistic to keep in mind from a Gallup employee engagement survey. Currently, 30% of the workforce consists of millennials looking for jobs that would be a good culture fit for them. They prefer companies that have the same beliefs as they do. As employees, they want to know their company is committed to making a positive difference in the world, and they want to feel their individual role in the company contributes to a greater, positive purpose.
Gallup studies show that more than 70% of employees do not believe in the brand that employs them. This means they are either indifferent to the brand or dismissive of it.
Did you know that 60% of employees do not know what their company’s vision statement is? If your employees don’t know what your company’s vision statement is, it’s very likely they don’t feel truly connected to your company’s culture. That signals it’s time to get serious about improving employee engagement.
HR professionals must always remember that every company has at least three target audiences: customers, prospects, and employees. The most important audience a company has is its own employees. If your employees aren’t engaged, how can you ask prospects to become customers, or expect existing customers to be excited about doing business with you? Therefore, your workplace communication initiatives should be designed with the idea of improving employee engagement.
Communication in the workplace
Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings among frontline managers and employees, which can, in turn, lead to feelings of unease, loss of morale, and poor interpersonal relationships in the organization.
One study chalks up the failure of several mergers and acquisitions to poor communication. Furthermore, although managers show they care for their employees, they don’t often communicate with them about the opportunities available to develop and advance their careers. This can have a negative impact on employee motivation and morale. When communicating with the workforce, companies should ensure the following:
- Communicate truthfully.
- Take time to listen (communication is a two-way street).
- Share any news formally in written statements.
- Always communicate respectfully, even during conflicts.
- Be assertive.
- Be empathetic.
- Be authentic.
- Encourage teams to resolve some issues without leadership intervention.
- Communicate as often as possible.
Make sure you and your leadership team are on the same page about the kind of work culture you want to establish. It’s up to HR professionals to create communications that reflect that shared vision on a consistent basis.
Importance of aligning communication: 8 simple ways
1. Create a supportive communications environment.
Communication is important in creating productive workflows in a company. If people feel intimidated, ridiculed, or marginalized, they’ll be less likely to share their concerns, thoughts, ideas, and feedback freely with you and executives. (Again, good communication is a two-way street.) Create a safe, supportive space for employees to share, respond, Let them know their opinions and ideas are welcome.
Leaders who understand the importance of a healthy culture will be able to sustain growth. These leaders need to embrace openness and transparency. When problems inevitably arise, they can be dealt with accordingly and lessons are learned. This ensures the steady growth of a company rather than just maintaining the status quo.
2. Establish a clear brand identity.
Your company culture (as outlined in your vision statement) mirrors your brand identity, and your brand shows the external world—including customers and prospects—what you’re all about. Your brand is what makes you unique and sets you apart from your competition.
A clear vision statement unifies your company. Make sure your vision is communicated across the company so that all employees understand and know it. Think of internal communication as a branding opportunity on its own that requires you to know your audience, tailor the message accordingly, be consistent, and recognize and reward success achievement of that vision.
3. Encourage employee loyalty.
A healthy culture fosters loyalty among employees. A pleasant working atmosphere helps create loyal employees. Open communication helps create loyal employees. And a clearly communicated vision helps create loyal employees. Yes, loyalty takes effort to earn; but once you’ve earned it, the benefits are enormous. A reduction in turnover alone will help save your company money and contribute to high morale.
4. Increase your employee happiness quotient.
When employees are happy, you benefit. Employees who love working at your company are likely to broadcast that fact (informally and formally), and your company will gain a great reputation as a terrific employer; this will likely expand your pool of potential recruits. The company will also gain in general brand advocacy.
Share your employee success stories with the entire team to positively motivate employees and create a sense of belonging. It is critical that HR and marketing teams work together to inspire employees so they can accurately represent the brand to customers and prospects. If the employee is not convinced or does not love the brand, it will be close to impossible for them to inspire a positive emotion in customers or prospects. Happy employees are those who love their brand and are sold on the company‘s vision.
5. Foster teamwork.
As a rule, employees are stronger when they collaborate together effectively. Teams can sometimes be far more resilient than individuals who work on problems alone. Teams offer empathy and even higher level of creativity. Leaders who encourage teamwork will have a strong and healthy working culture in their organization.
6. Make drastic improvements to the work culture with crisis communication.
In the event of a workplace communication crisis, look for opportunities to refine, redefine, and revise your working culture. Sometimes, a crisis is a good wake-up call for HR regarding issues, challenges, or circumstances that have yet to be adequately addressed. Making the right changes can create a sense of community and unity within the organization.
7. Align goals with a vision driven by purpose.
Do your employees feel like they contribute to a larger purpose? In general, employees are more productive and focused when they feel they’re contributing to something larger than themselves. If you share the larger strategic vision of the company with them consistently and clearly, they’ll be more inspired and empowered to achieve their individual goals. Both the overall vision and individual goals need to be linked. fIn other words, everyone, from the CEO to the intern, should be aligned.
8. Be transparent in your workplace communication.
Today, many company leaders are struggling to figure out how to communicate with true transparency. We have more channels and interfaces than ever to communicate with one another, and, as a company grows, it’s not always easy to maintain control over what’s being said about your company, externally or internally. Know that you can’t always control gossip, but you can always control the level of integrity with which you approach workplace communication. When leadership fails to uphold its value system, the hypocrisy is visible and employees can become cynical.
However, in cases where the vision is authentic and constant, employees are likely to be committed to the company. All leadership, including middle-level managers, need to deeply connect with the purpose for its authenticity to spread to all parts of the organization. When this message is communicated effectively to frontline employees, it shapes their behavior for the better.
Learn more about how HR can build company culture and align employees through communication in our guide, New Insights For HR: A Four-Step Guide To Improving Employee Engagement.