No matter what you may call it—“employment branding,” “company culture,” or “employee engagement”—company leaders, employees and job seekers are interested in understanding and improving how it feels to work at a company. Why? Because as our lives and work have become more intertwined and demand for talent becomes more competitive, company culture just may become your most competitive advantage in both hiring and retaining the talent you need to achieve your goals.
Culture is a valuable and powerful force in the success of the organization. It is how employees feel working at the company. It is how your employees would describe the experience they are having while working at your company.
Here are some things to help you ensure that this priority gets both the attention it deserves and the results you expect.
Have you ever been asked, “Who is responsible for company culture?” The most common answers are:
- No one
This is a critical question. In your organization, perhaps you have a definitive answer, perhaps not. However, the most impactful question, the ONE thing that can make or break the authenticity and effectiveness of the workplace culture you’re trying to create is accountability. Who is accountable for your company culture?
If there is responsibility and no accountability, the person (or team) will not feel a need to get your culture goals defined or reached. If this responsibility is part of a person’s group of responsibilities, she may be distracted by the needs of her “real job.” If his responsibility is not measured, most likely the work will not get done.
Your consumer or company branding is owned by the marketing department. It is responsible, accountable and has the authority to build, enhance and change your consumer/customer brand…right? It has goals, a budget, and must report on its progress and success. Its employees are measured on their achievements and are expected to find a new way if their efforts aren’t working. They have regular performance reviews and appropriate rewards and recognition. Shouldn’t the same be applied to your company culture?
Dr. Mark Allen, an MBA professor with Pepperdine University, reviews a variety of culture-driven organizations and relates this example: You can’t see wind but you can see its effects. It’s the same with your company culture. You can’t see culture but you can see effects in the behaviors and language of your employees. You have a company culture whether you define it or not. You have a reputation as an employer, whether you like it or not.
You must plan for your culture, you must hire for it, and you must maintain and nurture it. I’m excited every day to work with many companies who are doing just that and proud of who they are as employers. Here is a short and meaningful quote from a Good Jobs company, The Starr Group, that illustrates my point.
“Our company culture is by design, not by default.”
The Starr Group reinforces its company culture throughout its employment process and new hire orientation, throughout the workday, as well as through all avenues of communication. In addition, choice employer and business awards have consistently recognized the company.
So is “talent” a primary concern for you and your organization? Are you struggling with recruiting or retaining the talented people who will help you reach your goals? If so, your company culture needs to be at the top of your strategic plan’s priority list. It’s a new year; you can make an impact in 2016. Define the following:
- Where are we now? How would we define our company culture now?
- How would we want to be recognized as an employer?
- What does success look like?
- Who will we assign to help us achieve these goals?
- How will we measure progress and results?
When identifying who is responsible to lead and own this priority, give that person or people the authority to take it forward and hold them accountable for the strategy and actions to make this goal a reality. You will see progress and it will make a difference!
-Anne Grace Nimke is chief executive officer and co-founder of Milwaukee-based The Good Jobs Inc. (www.thegoodjobs.com), a turnkey employment branding solution that provides transparency by quantifying culture to help companies attract, hire and retain the right talent.