4 Lessons for Building a Successful Company Culture
Approximately 9.8 million Canadian baby boomers are approaching retirement. By 2020, the number of Canadians retiring annually will be 425,000. It’s a simple reality that companies need to look at how to fill this unprecedented workforce gap and face the important task of finding top talent.
This search is made only more competitive and difficult by a shift in workforce attitudes across generations.
According to a recent Gallup report, millennial employees have fewer expectations of lifetime employment, with 6 in 10 open to new job opportunities. This generation places great emphasis on effective leadership, work-life balance, meaningful work, and career opportunities in today’s digital age.
Their search for the right position will take them online, where they can learn a great deal about what it’s like to work in your organization before setting foot in the door. As employers we need to invest in creating a company culture that not only aligns with the business objectives, but also fulfills what today’s workforce desires in their workplace.
This is key to attracting and retaining top talent. Investing in company culture must therefore be a priority, and the company’s external brand and social media presence need to authentically and positively portray the culture.
A positive culture is the foundation for high employee satisfaction and engagement. Organizations with high employee engagement are more productive, more profitable, and outperform the competition.
Investing time, effort, and resources into developing a strong, transparent company culture are critical to organizational and business success.
The stronger your culture is—and the better you articulate it—the more connected and engaged your employees will be, improving not only employee retention, but employee recruitment and corporate reputation as well.
In fact, businesses with highly engaged employees benefit from 100 percent more job applications than companies with low engagement. While it may take time and commitment, building a strong, transparent company culture is well worth the effort.
4 Lessons on Building a Successful Culture
Lead by Example
Your leaders at all levels, from managers to the executive team, model the way for your employees. How they behave is critical to establishing your company’s culture.
At BlueShore Financial, we have an open-door policy and our executive team demonstrates the same collaborative, can-do attitude that we ask of everyone else. As part of our coaching culture, our CEO and other members of our executive management team attend every new employee orientation session.
New recruits can ask any questions they have, and the CEO will answer there and then. Investing the time of executives in the new employee onboarding process gives new employees an accurate view into the culture, values, and what the company stands for. They feel like they are an important part of the team.
Ultimately, company culture starts with those at the top. Make sure leadership consistently sets the right tone for the rest of your organization.
Trust and Transparency
To quote Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Your employees need a strong culture of shared values, ensuring that each of them instinctively knows the right thing to do and does not need rules, policies, and procedures to dictate their actions.
This helps create a crucial sense of purpose, collaboration, and trust in the workplace. As a result, at BlueShore, we do not need to lay down rules such as those governing the number of sick days our employees are entitled to.
From the outset, we discuss our Employment Deal with our employees, outlining what we expect of them and what they can expect from us, ensuring a basis of trust and teamwork from the very beginning.
This transparency and trust is further developed in regular meetings, company updates, and our unique Enterprise-Wide Project Planning process, in which teams of employees identify, debate, and ultimately select the projects they feel are critical to business success.
They pitch their proposals to a steering committee that prioritizes the strategic projects to pursue. In this way, everyone is on the same page and feels their voice is heard in the strategic planning process.
Collaborate on Values Development
Rather than just handing out a mission statement, involve your employees as you define your core values. Working collectively to establish these principles guarantees much greater alignment and harmony throughout your organization.
We used the Barrett Cultural Values Assessment tools in this process. We let our employees know our corporate goals and ask them what values we needed to embody to accomplish our objectives and then collaboratively defined them together.
This is integral to achieving what is, in essence, personal investment by our employees. They are contributing at a fundamental level and building our company culture from within. This creates a stronger unity of purpose at all levels in the workplace.
Once these values are in place, however, you need to make sure you stand firmly behind them if you want that harmony to continue. At BlueShore we use our corporate principles as a filter for every decision and to promote values-based leadership.
If a proposal does not align with our values, we do not move forward with it.
Hire for Fit
The final key to a strong company culture is your hiring process. While technical skills are valuable, hiring based on these alone can be a costly mistake.
To maintain and enhance your culture, you must ensure any employees you take on are a good fit for your organization. To do this, ensure your recruitment materials reflect your culture.
Include values-based questions in interviews; hold multiple interviews with different stakeholders to get different perspectives; provide a business challenge and ask how the candidate would approach solving it.
While this may involve a longer hiring process, it will pay dividends. You will avoid sowing discord in the workplace and eroding the hard work you have already put in.
Culture Starts with Those at the Top
Ultimately, establishing a well-articulated company culture will not happen overnight.
Crafted, as it is, from an interlocking set of goals, values, processes and people practices, the introduction of significant change is complex and inevitably takes time and resources.
Once in place, however, it is well worth the effort and impossible to maintain without committed and vigilant leadership. Clearly defined values, consistent executive involvement, and employees hired for fit means employees will feel respected, engaged and, most importantly, that they can be authentic at work.
In this digital age, where word travels fast, your company will become known for employee commitment, productivity, and retention. This reputation alone will attract top talent.
Marni Johnson, CPHR, is the Senior Vice President, HR and Communications, at BlueShore Financial. With experience in several industries and over 25 years in financial services, Marni provides overall leadership and strategic direction in the areas of human resources and corporate and internal communications.
She is responsible for ensuring a highly competent, engaged and productive workforce, and for creating communication strategies to maximize employee commitment and achieve corporate goals.