I want to improve my company culture — Where do I start?
As a Certified EOS Implementer and CPA, I work with leadership teams in companies of all sizes to improve their business operations, and that begins with a strong company culture. Think of your company culture in the same way you would think of your company’s personality. It’s the underlying current of energy that makes your business a fun, interesting, engaging, or, even occasionally, a not-so-great place to work. Company culture is built from many elements: mission, vision, strategic plan, career development, office culture, and company ethics, to name only a few.
A strong culture is critical
In today’s competitive economy, having a well-developed and positive company culture can be critical to everything from recruitment to employee engagement to productivity. A strong company culture can help employees stay upbeat during stressful times—a major need for many companies working remotely, as well as adapting to re-entering their workplaces.
When we work with leadership teams to strengthen culture in an organization, we encourage them to hire, fire, reward, and recognize based on a company’s core values. Use examples of how core values in your unique business are exhibited by team members. If you have forty people in your organization, all forty should be the “right people,” meaning they possess the company’s core values. Simply stated, core values drive culture.
Considering surveying your employees to learn more
Stephen Covey said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers,” and this is a great bit of wisdom to keep in mind as you consider company culture. A positive company culture will help engage your employees, and engaged employees typically go the extra mile, are highly motivated to work hard, and build strong relationships within the company and with customers and clients. Talent attraction and retention will thrive within a strong company culture, and so will the bottom line. This is the kind of work environment we all want to foster, but getting there isn’t always simple. That’s why we recommend our clients start at the source—their employees.
An employee survey is a great way to get real feedback that can drive a company culture strategy. Be prepared for the answers, good and bad, and be ready to share the consensus with the whole team, along with a solid plan for moving forward.
To get a survey started, we recommend asking your employees a series of questions about their experiences in your business. Suggestions include: Why do you work here? How long do you plan to work here? What would be the hardest part of this organization to leave? Would you recommend your friends work here? Why or why not? What is one thing you would change about this work environment? How would you describe your work environment and team? Do you see a future here? Do you believe in the company’s mission? Are you proud to work here? What benefit most excites you?
We would suggest sending your survey in such a way that a third party is collecting the data. There are multiple options for web-based survey systems customizable to fit your specific needs. Allow your employees 1-2 weeks to complete the survey. Encourage participation and assure employees that the data provided will be anonymously collected and distributed.
Once the employee’s feedback is gathered, do something with it. First, report back to the employees with an overall summary of the feedback. The good, the bad and the ugly. Without vulnerability, there is no trust, and this could negatively affect your culture even further.
Second, address any concerns that arose. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a great work environment. We can assure you that taking action to improve culture is worth the time and effort. Human capital is nearly always a company’s greatest asset—treat it as such.
Third, begin to proactively consider and strategize around positive initiatives that will enhance your company culture in ways that will help your workplace stand out from the crowd.
Commitment to who you want to be as an organization is important. Remembering why you got into business can inspire these efforts for you, your employees, and your company as a whole. A good leader’s vision can guide company culture in an invaluable way. Consider working with a consultant knowledgeable about these matters.
About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programming and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.