Company culture plays a big part in your ability to hire and retain great people. Your culture may be defined in fancy, thoughtful language on your website—but what your employees experience may be something else entirely. Or, maybe you don’t have a defined company culture at all and this is making it difficult for you to attract talented people because you’re not sure who you are. We often work with companies who have hiring challenges due to a negative reputation or a poor culture. It can be hard to change the perception you have, but the longest journey begins with a single step. If your company could benefit from a cultural makeover, here are some tips:
Your leadership team changes perceptions and makes positive (or negative) impressions. If you want to instill a certain reputation or behavior, your leadership team needs to “talk the talk, and walk the walk.” Hire leaders who share your vision and understand how to perpetuate it, but who don’t necessarily think the same way you do. Talk about what you want and get into the details about what leaders must do to make it happen.
Appoint a team of people from different departments and create “Cultural Ambassadors” or, people who are responsible for bringing up ideas, suggesting changes, and addressing concerns from their “district” (aka: their department). Hold quarterly meetings with these representatives and make a point to listen to their feedback and address items they tell you are important. Rotate who participates to enable fresh representation.
How do your employees see your culture? The best way to find out is to ask—anonymously. Get a quick pulse on how happy and stable your team is by asking them a few questions about their level of job satisfaction. Do people feel safe at work? Do they feel appreciated? Do they trust their teammates? What do they think of you? Research shows repeatedly that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers—and employees leave if they don’t feel their manager cares about them. Once you get your survey results, communicate the themes back to employees along with specific plans to improve and address concerns.
Team Building Activities
A great way to encourage stronger relationships between your team—and especially among different departments is to promote ways for your team to connect and interact in a fun, low-stress environment. Team building activities can be as simple as playing a round of office trivia, volunteering somewhere as a group, or participating in a charity event. The goal is to get your team talking to people they don’t have lunch with every day and to encourage relationship building. This leads to better communication and greater job satisfaction. Team building events also promote inclusion and help employees learn to care about their colleagues as people, and not just as co-workers. The resulting relationships will translate into more cooperative behavior in the workplace.
People will leave, no matter what you do. You can learn a lot from departing employees and use that information to help you examine different aspects of your culture and workstyle. Exit interviews are also a great way to help you understand the demands of the job. Ask employees questions like: When did you first start thinking about leaving? What was the biggest factor in your decision to leave? Ask for suggestions on ways that you can improve going forward. Sure, you’ll hear some unreasonable suggestions, but you’ll also glean some valuable insight that will help you learn how to better screen future employees.