This fall I attended the MBTI Users Conference and the Influence Factor where Josh Bersin, a principal at Deloitte, spoke about the company’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Survey. I left his presentation thinking about many issues that HR stakeholders should be contemplating as they begin planning for next year, most importantly, organizational culture.
Earlier this year, Bersin wrote an article where he shared that “culture” was the most popular word in 2014. This year, it continued to grow in popularity in leadership circles and boardrooms. This actually didn’t surprise me because when created, sustained and communicated properly, the culture of an organization actually drives employee engagement. What did strike me was that if culture is confusing, miscommunicated, or even toxic, it can prevent organizations from hiring and keeping the best talent.
In today’s professional world, nothing is secret. You can find all you need to know about an organization’s culture and leadership strengths at the tip of your fingers with a Glassdoor search. You can determine how employees feel about the organization, whether or not they would recommend employment to a friend, if it offers something unique and/or if you would be happy working there.
This transparency into an organization’s culture can either be used as a competitive advantage, or a competitive hindrance. So, with it being such an important thing to an organization, who creates the culture, where does the responsibility lie?
In my opinion, cultural identity must start at the top. The way your leaders conduct business, acknowledge and communicate with employees, and reward success helps to define organizational culture. Last month, I attended the Northern Virginia Family Services 23rd annual Care Awards where thirteen companies received recognition for taking a stand and offering programs that help to positively shape their organizational cultures. Programs and best practices that were recognized included:
- Unlimited PTO for sales employees who met their numbers
- Encouraging employees to telecommute one day per week
- Free healthy snacks at the office, but employees have to pay for soft drinks and candy
- A “Kudos Bulletin” sent out by the CEO highlighting successes and client feedback or specific employees
- Managers who are empowered to show their thanks in ways like Starbucks drinks, a free afternoon off, or lunch for the entire team.
Decisions to offer programs like these happen at the top, and smart managers know how to carry them out. Some of these programs don’t cost money, some are small investments, but all of these programs are taking positive steps toward creating a special bond within the workforce which solicits employee engagement and commitment. Because of their cultures, employees at these organizations want to work there.
So the question should be, as HR professionals, what can we do to help our organization’s leaders to develop and promote a culture to attract and retain top performers? Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your culture successfully used to promote your organization?
- How is your culture being used to develop future leaders and support the success of employees?
- Are you promoting your culture to prospective talent?
- Are you hiring employees that match the culture?
- Are new employees properly educated on the organizational history and culture?
- Are you introducing HR practices, ideas and programs to senior leadership that support and enhance the organizational culture?
If you’re not doing these things, you’re at risk of falling behind and of losing and/or missing out on some of the best, most talented people.
So, as you begin to decorate your office, plan your holiday parties and look forward to the coming year, take some time to reflect on how you intend to enhance and promote your organizational culture next year before you dive into the holidays!