Shifting Culture to Improved Engagement and Performance

 Culture is a term we hear all the time.  But what really is company culture? How does it lead to brand perception? How do we shape or reshape it?

According to a Gallup Poll after a rollercoaster 2020, U.S. employee engagement increased to 39% in January 2021, up from 36% in 2020. While this may seem like good news, the truth is that two thirds of Americans are not engaged at work and a large percentage are unplugging altogether.

As we search for answers to why employees are unplugging, taking the time to really think about the culture you want, and more importantly making sure your culture matches your vision is a game changer.   

Culture is simply the way things are around here. 

Being intentional about building culture and building a strategy around that vision is a good first step to improving our brand, and brand promise, which is the value you deliver to the world.  But the real work is ongoing and involves making really hard decisions about “what things are like, around here”, and walking the talk when day to day opportunities come up. 

Culture plays a huge part in employee engagement. Get it right, and you create a brand differentiator.  Get it wrong, and it can lead to devastating outcomes.

Six steps to improve your culture, employee engagement performance, and ultimately retention.

  1. Transparency is a magic bullet, and transparency is not a top down edict.  It must be a two-way street. This means involving employees in the planning process in meaningful ways, and being vulnerable. Opening communication channels for feedback with regular Q & A sessions and “Ask me anything” channels. Sometimes (oftentimes) the best ideas don’t come from where you expect, and involving employees in this way will improve engagement and by extension retention.

2. Measure what matters most.  Think about outcomes, not just output.  Tying your KPIs into the mission and vision taps into the psychology of “the hidden paycheck”  of I’m making a difference and leading to higher satisfaction, profitability, and performance.

3. Listen actively and act often.  Employees who feel heard and believe their employers value their feedback by taking action are almost 2 times more likely to be engaged.  Performing smaller surveys based upon issues learned in discussions with employees work best.  Instead of using the scale of 1-10 survey type, use more targeted questions that evoke conversations instead of binary, yes no response types.  “Tell me more” is a great way to make sure people feel heard and understood.

4. Understand the heatmap of wisdom in your company.  Wisdom is different from knowledge, and can help define leadership, and initiative.  Here’s a simple question you can ask to uncover your wisdom heatmap.

           “Beyond your boss, who in the company do you look for wisdom?”

Armed with this information you can begin to reward these leaders and create a means to further facilitate these interactions.

5. Be consistent.  Many companies do reviews annually or semi annually.  However, increasing the frequency of feedback improves the quality and quantity of performance.   Creating more opportunity for open communication surrounding not only performance, but also relationship building and tapping into the employee’s personal mission including well being, growth opportunities lead to happier employees and higher engagement. 

6.  Empower Managers to drive engagement.  We’ve all heard the expression people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.  Managers hold a vital key when it comes to building the human relationships and interaction necessary to drive the culture of your company and deliver your brand promise.  Make sure they have the time and resources available to them to perform this vital function.

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Employee costs are one of the largest expenses on the income statement.  Having a solid culture and engagement strategy can ensure that you’re getting the most from this essential investment, and can be a secret weapon to the value you bring to your customers.

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