Six aspects to build on every day.
What’s different about workplace culture today? One significant difference is that we’re in the age of the connected stakeholder. Whether it is your employee, partner, customer or community at large, this connectedness can either break or make you, as an organisation, in more ways than one.
When you talk about organisational culture, this used to be something that was very internally driven. The experience, for the longest time, was managed within and to a great extent, what happened inside stayed inside. Word of mouth and referrals, of course, had its place. But today, our always on, always accessible culture and smartphone-driven ways has led to a leaching of this culture outside the organisation. What used to be known just to employees can now spread like wildfire on various platforms – regardless of its veracity. And that can be either a bad or good thing.
Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce therefore called it right when he said that, “your company culture is your brand’.
Your organisational culture translates into your brand – be it in client meetings, or the way your customers view your organisation.
Aspects of culture
That said, what can we then do about ensuring we build a strong and sustainable workplace culture? You can make sure you tick off the boxes in six aspects of culture.
OC Tanner is a $500 million global company specialising in recognition and culture. They have invested a lot of time and resources in conducting extensive research with more than 10,000 companies where their focus has been on the employee’s view of culture. Their research shows that there are six aspects of culture in particular that people look for in a great place to work, which are purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, well-being and leadership.
This is about connecting your employee to your organisation’s reason for being. This sense of purpose is how your employee makes a difference to your organisation and how your organisation makes a difference in the world. And millennials have long focused on what drives an organisation. These are different values from the days of old where people stayed in one spot for 30 years, waiting on a golden handshake that may or may not come.
As an employee, having a common purpose with the organisation can make all the difference in terms of effort and performance at work.
This is giving it all to your employees – the ability to learn new skills, to develop, to realise their potential and to contribute meaningfully. It seems to make absolute sense except that there are many organisations that are driven by one thing and the employee is their means of getting to it. That narrow-minded approach means they don’t stop to think about their employee and what they may want or need, thus wasting precious time and resources recruiting and retaining people who don’t buy in or remain engaged.
Always think about how your employees can benefit from an opportunity to upskill themselves or for the company to promote cross-functional learning.
Success for the employee, in many ways, is success for the organisation. This necessarily involves a degree of empowerment and letting go in order for employees to fail forward, try new things and not be penalised for exploring and innovating.
“The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” If every organisation embraced so wholeheartedly this mantra by IBM’s Thomas Watson Sr, things may be very different in our world today.
When employees are empowered to innovate and correct mistakes, the organisation sets up a system that motivates and encourages employees to fail forward to success.
Who doesn’t feel valued when they are appreciated? While it is very important that organisations recognise both outstanding work and unique contributions, I feel it’s just as important to value and recognise effort as well. It would be good to realise that we do not all start at the same starting line in which case, efforts vary and therefore, need to be taken into account as well.
Particularly relevant in today’s always on, technologically-driven workplace, a focus on employee well-being goes beyond foosball tables, a well-stocked pantry and gym membership. It’s recognition that an employee’s health is many fold – physical, social, emotional and financial. An organisation is made up of people, right to the top, who make decisions for the organisation every day. This means these leaders themselves experience a sense of well-being which they should rightfully ensure is an experience other employees get as well.
Well-being initiatives should be in place, beside any foosball tables, game rooms, or a fancy pantry.
Leadership comes from the top and drives everything, in many ways. Good leadership connects employees to purpose, empowers them to do great work and helps bring people together in teams and as a whole. Or they don’t. Don’t just let your organisational culture exist – build it, refine it often and mould it to get it just right.
Leaders must live and breathe the organisational culture that they put in place. Be the positive change you wish to see in your organisation.
Culture is challenging because your organisational culture exists whether you want to confront it or not. As Jacob Morgan, author and futurist, shared – “A physical environment doesn’t exist unless the organisation creates or designates one. But the corporate culture is like air–it’s around all the employees who work there even if they aren’t always aware of it. That is what it’s so crucial to actually create and design a culture instead of just letting it exist.“