How Does Your Organization's Corporate Culture Behave?
In a very dynamic and evolutionary job market with a fairly low unemployment rate, the ball is in the candidate's court when identifying a new role. Despite the professional level, industry and specialization, there are several factors aside from the typical consideration of pay level that drive candidate decisions.
Most organizations have dedicated at least some real estate on their career websites to provide prospective job incumbents with insight into the culture. With a shift in workforce demographics, and millennials emerging as the largest group of professionals, one of the top factors when selecting an employer is whether or not the company's culture is a "fit".
With this being said, if it is a top priority of your organization to recruit and retain top talent, you should consider publicizing information regarding the culture. It is crucial that you also ensure that information that is externally communicated is in fact accurate; from that perspective, you will need to either audit, reignite or establish your organization's culture to remain or obtain employer of choice status.
Importance of Culture
A company's culture is considered its personality; not only should the culture align with business objectives, but it should also guide employee behavior. For example, if the viability of your organization is contingent upon teamwork and camaraderie, the company’s culture should encourage relationship building rather than competition.
Culture is a factor that will distinguish your organization from competition, from the perspectives of customer and talent acquisition. Company culture takes years to establish because it requires active buy-in and acceptance from all members of the organization.
Once decided upon, it takes a great deal of work to facilitate awareness and understanding of the culture, why it's important, and how it should impact daily tasks.
There are several factors associated with the establishment and adherence to company culture. Whether your organization needs to refresh its culture, or develop one from scratch there are a few core components that are critical to success.
The leaders within your company will be the key drivers in spreading awareness of the culture, as well as educating their direct reports on its importance. They also are the individuals responsible for assessing the business needs, and developing mission, vision, and goals that align with overarching objectives.
While senior leaders typically will not need coaching on the importance of culture, they may require reminders about how a strong culture can shape success and the behavior of employees on a daily basis. Culture can serve as a contract, or guideline, that both employees and clients leverage as a baseline for expectations; in other words, culture provides insight into the values, motivations and drivers of an organization and enables predictability.
Leaders should understand that the company culture will 'speak up' and guide decisions when authority figures are not present in the workplace, and when company representatives are not present in the marketplace.
When establishing the importance and purpose of company culture, be prepared to demonstrate how it is applicable to business goals.
Employees should have a clear understanding of the fact that a succinct culture in which everyone adheres to the organizational values will in turn lead to heightened viability. Be sure to articulate the fact that the success of the company solidifies opportunities for employees such as promotions and role expansion. Ensure that employees are in fact complying with the standards of your company’s culture through performance management.
A best practice is to include a section, typically weighed between 15% to 20%, in the annual performance review that evaluates an employee's adherence to the company culture. Develop clear and specific examples of actions that either supported or negated premises of the culture; reward employees that embrace and embody the company culture.
Corporate culture should be a consistent topic of conversation, especially if your company regularly hires new employees and/or interfaces with clients consistently. An employee should initially be introduced to the culture during the interview phase, in which the recruiter should formally describe expectations of employees as well as the manner in which the culture has enabled the organization to reach success.
The candidate's ability to assimilate to the culture should also be a determining factor in the selection process. New employee orientation or onboarding should focus heavily on the company's culture; this will be another opportunity to clearly outline expectations for embracing the mission, vision, and goals. Reinforce and gauge understanding by inviting new hires to ask questions and speak with tenured employees to gain additional insight.
Throughout the employment lifecycle, be sure to regularly develop opportunities to communicate about how the culture has facilitated 'wins' such as acquiring major accounts, reducing expenditures, etc. Develop a cadence with the employee population in which you can assess the overall understanding and commitment to the culture.
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