Workplace Culture: HR’s Guide to Implementation

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Workplace Culture  HR’s Guide to Implementation_people-meeting-workspace-team

With Millennials at the forefront of today’s workforce and Generation Z on their way up, an excellent workplace culture is a must.  As such, it’s no surprise the issue has become a top priority for the members of the C-Suite.

There’s plenty of evidence available now to support this course of action.

  • Companies with great cultures are 29% more likely to have employees innovating and performing great work. (O.C. Tanner Institute, Talent Magnets)
  • Companies with great culture are 53% more likely to have highly engaged employees. (O.C. Tanner Institute, Talent Magnets)
  • A strong culture offers a competitive advantage
  • Great cultures = companies are 27% more likely to increase revenue and 25% more likely to see team growth (O.C. Tanner Institute, Talent Magnets)

In the guide below, the HR Exchange Network explores the topic of workplace culture in more detail.  It takes a look an in depth look at what culture is, the current state of affairs, effective strategies and a prediction of what is to come.

What is Workplace Culture?

A strong and long-lasting workplace culture is an environment where creativity is cherished, risk-taking is embraced and encouraged, communication is critical, and resources are committed.  But with everything HR-related in a constant state of transformation, achieving this type of situation is difficult.

Future of Work

For instance, CultureIQ worked with Bloomberg to survey 300 senior executives about the Future of Work.  In that research, one of the first things they learned is work is becoming more complex.  How?  Consider first that companies are becoming more agile either by force or organically.  Executives know they have to do this in order to remain competitive.  Optimizing a talented workforce, predicting talent needs and keeping retention rates high are critical to sustaining your organization’s competitive advantage.

The State of HR

The State of HR is in transition.  The days of being merely transactional are extinct and the evolution of the strategic HR department is underway.  So, what shape will the future take?  Where will the focus lie in order to achieve success?  Find out in our latest report:  The State of HR.

In fact, CEOs recognized that one of the most important factors in their organization’s performance for the next three years was ensuring their organization was agile.

CultureIQ says agility ranked higher than other attributes like collaboration, engagement, or innovation.

Want to know more?  Watch:  Change Management, Culture & The Role of Agility

Courtesy:  CultureIQ 

A company’s culture is imperative to its strategy especially when you consider this fact:  culture influences whether talent is attracted or not attracted to the company.  It’s also significant in the company’s ability to retain their best employees.

According to Gallup, 4 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree their organization’s mission and purpose makes them feel their job is important.  Furthermore:

“By doubling that ratio to eight in 10 employees, organizations could realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 33% improvement in quality, or in the case of healthcare, even a 50% drop in patient safety incidents.”

Gallup has studied organizational culture and leadership for years.  They find some organizations have difficulty in successfully establishing their “ideal” culture and attribute that to the fact that culture is constantly in flux and is not the same one moment to the next.

Earlier this year, researchers looked specifically at how HR leaders fit into the process of changing culture. 

“Our analytics show that in the world's highest performing organizations, HR leaders play a central role in creating and sustaining the culture their organization aspires to have. As the stewards and keepers of the culture, HR leaders are responsible for inspiring desired employee behaviors and beliefs -- and in turn, realizing the performance gains of a thriving culture.

By owning their pivotal strategic and tactical roles in shaping work culture, HR leaders can cultivate exceptional performance and prove to senior leadership that they deserve a seat at the table.”



For HR, Gallup set forth three roles that explain how leaders influence culture.

  1. Champion – Executive leaders create the vision of the perfect culture, but HR leaders champion it. They are responsible for turning words into deeds.
  2. Coach – HR leaders, as coaches, make sure managers and employees are on the same page and help the two entities take ownership of the culture.
  3. Consultant – HR leaders here consistently check culture metrics such as employee engagement, customer outlines and performance indicators. In this way, HR leaders can make sure the culture strategy stays on track.

Company Culture Tips

When looking to create an excellent workplace culture, focus on the following as components:

  • Richly Diverse – A company culture thrives on diversity.  This doesn’t just push toward ethnic or gender diversity, though that is equally important.  It must also embrace cognitive diversity; the different ways in which people perceive and digest information.  Leaning on this allows for ideas to be evaluated from multiple angles and can reveal both the pros and cons of an action.  A diverse company culture also looks at all dimensions of diversity including hiring or seeking employees from diverse backgrounds both personally and professionally.  That may include, as an example, hiring a candidate with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD).  Other examples include hiring more veterans or the formerly incarcerated.  These present unique challenges, but given the right action plan, those issues can be overcome and the company can benefit.
  • Innovative – A company culture must always look to the future.  That means embracing innovation.  Employees at all levels need to feel the freedom to posit ideas for consideration.  And those ideas need to be thoroughly discussed and evaluated.  That’s the key to innovation.  Most employees just want their ideas considered.  If it’s not an idea that is feasible or realistic, that’s fine.  The importance lies in that the employee has a voice.
  • Open to dissent – Speaking of employee voices, workers need to feel they can dissent from leadership.  This doesn’t mean protest or rebel against a decision, but that their concerns will be heard and they will not see retaliation from sharing those ideas.
  • Transparent – A company culture that embraces transparency will not, in most cases, fail.  Why?  In a transparent culture, everyone knows the important bits of information, but more importantly, they can take ownership of what’s happening.  Employees who are proud to work for their employers ultimately take more ownership in the company’s destiny.  They will be more engaged and will pour more energy into ensuring success than the average employee.
  • Aligned with company brand – Employees and customers must see value in the brand which helps support the culture.  It has to resonate with them.  For HR, this might include a partnership with the company’s marketing or public relations department.
  • Supported by all, especially leadership – If leaders don’t see value in or support the culture, expect the same from employees.  Leaders have to actively engage in the culture and make it a staple in their normal operations.  Lead by example.  When the CEO cares… the employees care.
  • Aligns with strategy and process – Think about this from a talent perspective.  The culture needs to align with processes like hiring, compensation and benefits, development and hiring.  And don’t forget about succession planning.  How will the culture align in the future?

RELATED:  Using Predictive Analytics to Forecast Employee Turnover

  • Collaborative – This is a great way to instill the culture for your employees.  Look at ways to encourage collaboration between teams of employees.  This reinforces the idea that everyone is part of a much larger team.
  • Feedback driven – Give employees regular feedback on performance.  This will help in aligning their performance with the goals of the company.  But don’t save this for a once-a-year event.  Any time an employee or team makes progress toward the company’s goals and in doing so supports the culture, it’s time for some P.R.O.P.S. or Peer Recognition of Peer Success.
  • Deliberate – Culture should be deliberate.  It’s not something that just happens.  Values must be known and supported, especially by leadership.  Otherwise, the culture that is trying to be built will slowly pass into oblivion and the process will have to start all over again.

Benefits of an Excellent Company Culture

Every company should have a viable workplace culture.  Throughout this guide, we’ve provided a lot of information that could lead to creating such a culture for your company, but not every piece of information presented is applicable to your workforce.  Case in point - the tips listed above are just that, tips.  If they’re not internalized and not used properly the company will not benefit.  On the flipside, if those pieces are practiced well, companies will see some huge advantages.

For one, expect to see an improved environment.  It will truly become a pleasant place to work.  It’s pleasing socially and psychologically.  If that’s the case, expect to see the quality of work improve.  That means higher increases in productivity which leads to more business success.

NEXT:  Employee Engagement - Everything You Need To Know


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