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Culture has become a top priority for the C-Suite. When you consider the fact millennials are gaining a foothold in workforce make-up, it makes perfect sense. So, how can companies adjust their cultures to become more attractive to top talent?
Culture Development Strategy
When taking culture development, the first challenge is making innovation a strategic imperative and a core competency of that culture.
“Any culture change is difficult to make. The culture is comprised of mindset and behaviors and we all know that before you can change a behavior, you have to first change the mindset,” explained Rhonda Hall. She is the Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development for University Federal Credit Union.
“Once the mindset is shifted, and people begin to talk using new language, ask different questions and make different decisions, then you are ready to change the behavior,” Hall said.
Physical Impacts on Culture Development
There is a high probability most HR professionals at one point in their career worked in a cubical workplace environment. Until recently, that would be considered a normal working atmosphere.
That is changing. In fact, the physical environment is a critical part of culture development.
“Our CEO has structured our physical work place where it enables collaboration, teamwork, alignment… simultaneous conversations that just happen,” Augie Schulke said. He's the Chief Human
Resources Officer of Veolia North America
“We have set ourselves up in order to take advantage of having better meetings, better conversations.”
In a recent Gallup survey, 25 percent of Americans work between 45‐59 hours per week. With that in mind, there is a real desire by some companies to make their workplace feel more like home. This speaks to the physical design of a workplace. Instead of cubicles and offices, think about infusing relaxing backyards and plush sofas in to a redesign. Not only is this functional for employees, it also helps attract and retain top talent.
Using space creatively and linking it to the needs of the workforce is important. Not everyone enjoys working in a loud office for instance. Use space to create quiet, individual spaces. Also create collaborative spaces that are attractive in some way. Learning spaces should lend themselves to visual and audible presentations.
Mobility is also a necessity, especially when you consider technology savvy workers, regardless of generation. Teleworking, for instance could be offered. Also, make sure employees are equipped with mobile technology, either provided by the company or the employee him or herself. Encourage movement from space to space to ensure collaboration.
Diversity and Culture Development
No two companies are alike. Sure, similarities exist, but when it comes down to the details…companies are different entities with different wants and needs. The strategy employed by any company seeking to develop an innovative workplace culture must be unique to their people; their workforce.
The most significant reason points to this fact: a company’s workforce is diverse in its makeup.
“Diversity of thought is absolutely the foundational element upon which an innovative culture is created,” Hall said. “Finding value in varying thoughts, ideas, concepts and how those are all communicated, captured and acted upon…are all part of the diversity elements.”
What is diversity? That’s a two pronged answer. There is inherent diversity. It involves traits a person is born with… gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation for instance. Then there is acquired diversity. These are traits gained from experience. For instance, an employee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appreciate cultural differences.
The Harvard Business Review conducted a study focused on two‐dimensional diversity. A person with 2‐D diversity is said to have at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits. In the study, companies with 2‐D diversity out‐innovated and out‐performed those without it. Those companies were 45% more likely to report growth over the previous year and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market.
When it comes to diversity, companies first need to make sure any existing barriers to innovation are removed.
Taking it a step further, Fernando Sanchez-Arias, the Chief People Officer of Global Custom Commerce for The Home Depot said individuals have to accept, not tolerate difference because tolerance “is just a very basic level. Acceptance is superior.”
“So, I accept you’re different. I accept that it bothers me the way you speak,” Sanchez-Arias explained. “But I know that nobody else is better than you at this specific task within the company. So, that’s why I value in my team.”
It’s also about recruitment and hiring. If HR professionals and companies are, for instance, looking for an employee with a real desire to work for the company, that in itself breaks down barriers. Don’t just look for a person who wants a job. Top talent will be called to work for a company because their talents align with the company’s mission.
As HR professionals, it’s very easy to assume the ownership of the company’s culture falls to the department and everyone in it. That’s partly true. In reality, the entire company has to drive toward creating that innovative culture.