Make no mistake: the “culture wars” are alive and real in business. Every day there is a battle being fought for the very employees who make up the workforce – for their motivation, their passion, their productivity, and ultimately, their loyalty.
An often quoted Gallup poll tells us “disengaged” employees make up the majority of the workforce. In other words, the majority of workers are not enthusiastic or committed to their work or their workplace. This may not be entirely surprising to most of us when we take a quick mental scan of our own workplaces.
However, the real concern for managers is that there are usually just as many “actively disengaged” employees as there are “engaged” employees. At People Centric Consulting Group, we label these actively disengaged employees as “toxic” because of the effect they can have on company culture. These toxic employees often use their voice and influence to spread negativity throughout their organization, often drowning out or overpowering the less vocal positively-engaged employees. Consequently, their negativity undermines a high performance culture. Another concerning statistic is that Millennials are the least engaged group, despite being the largest generation in the workforce – having surpassed Generation X in 2015. Employees, especially Millennials, now place as much value on company culture along with traditional pay and benefits.
So how does an organization build fantastic company culture? There is no “one-size-fits-all” model – each company’s culture is unique and somewhat home-grown. However, there are many things a company can deliberately and intentionally do to create and reinforce company culture:
- Clearly define the company’s Core Values and Mission.
Engaged employees are excited to be part of a larger, shared purpose. Does your company have clearly stated Core Values and mission statement that speaks to “why” the company is in business? Companies are good at defining “what” they do, but often fall short when answering the more powerful question of “why?”
- Develop a clear strategy for engaging employees.
Employee Engagement is not the result of a single initiative or event, but is determined by a comprehensive strategy that keeps employee engagement “top of mind” in everyday activities.
- Communicate well throughout the organization.
It is one thing to develop core values or an engagement strategy, but an entirely different thing to put those plans into action. A company must be able to effectively communicate these values and integrate engagement initiatives into the workflow of the business.
- Hire and promote employees according to cultural fit.
Companies that hire new employees based first and foremost on cultural fit, build a happy and dedicated work force. Zappos is one such company that integrates a cultural fit interview into their hiring process. Additionally, they train all their new employees on the company’s core values and prioritize company culture in terms promotion opportunities. Other companies have specific budgets and task forces that promote community or other employee bonding events as part of a larger engagement strategy.
- Empower employees to be able to do what they are best at without layers of bureaucracy.
Employees are more engaged when they feel empowered to do their job well. Southwest Airlines’ employees bucked the stereotype of “grumpy employees and poor customer service” by empowering their employees to “go the extra mile to make customers happy.”Additionally, when employees feel they are able to work to their strengths and their voices are heard, they will feel more confident and satisfied with their jobs which improves morale.
Adkins, A. (2015, January 28). Majority of US Employees Not Engaged. Retrieved from Gallup.com: http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx
Feeney, N. (2015, May 11). Millennials Now Largest Generation in the US Workforce. Retrieved from www.time.com: http://time.com/3854518/millennials-labor-force/
Patel, S. (2015, August 6). 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures. Retrieved from www.entrepreneur.com: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249174