Although awareness of corporate culture has been around for decades, it has only become a common point of discussion in the past few years. To some extent, the phrase has become another new bit of business jargon and lost its true meaning and purpose. However, this influential concept is inspiring some companies to review — and share — their values, organizational goals, strategy, and structure.
With the unique challenges of attracting talent to the Upper Peninsula, our companies need to work even harder at defining and promoting corporate culture. There are indications that companies who have a unified company culture are more successful.
- Culture plays a role in attracting and retaining talent. When consumers buy new cars, they will search all brands, makes and models until they find a vehicle that feels right. In today’s “war on talent,” companies need to think about creating chemistry in the workplace in order to boost their appeal.
- Culture increases customer loyalty and sales. Customers of companies with strong, well-defined cultures have loyal, happy employees. Employees who are happy at work create positive customer experiences. Happy customers create more revenue.
- Culture provides direction for employees. A strong corporate culture also drives employee behavior. For example, if “creativity” is a priority in your corporate culture, then employees will participate more in developing solutions and ideas that will continue to improve products, services, and yes — the bottom line.
Your competition is focused on culture.
Just like market share, your competitors are likely chasing after the same talent you are. So it’s important to sell your culture to compete for talent, the same way you sell your product or service. Companies who sell culture first and the actual position second are more successful at recruiting.
Companies in the Upper Peninsula, especially those competing nationally for talent, have to work a little harder. We must move beyond selling just our company culture to also promote the U.P. lifestyle in order to attract talent. For the right employee, the U.P. culture is a bonus. Those employees will be happier at work as a result.
I am a Gen-Xer and grew up in a business world where new job decisions were driven by health benefits, 401K packages, and salary plans. Professional millennials have completely different motivations. And let’s face it…they’re the ones driving the future of today’s workplace.
Traditional structures and communication styles are not appealing to millennials. But you don’t need beanbag chairs and ping-pong tables to attract young talent. This generation prioritizes culture over salaries. They want to feel trusted and have flexibility. Companies that successfully compete for millennial talent offer other benefits, like unlimited PTO, schedule flexibility, and options to work partially from home.
Millennials are forcing companies to think harder about culture. Those companies that don’t embrace this generation will experience shortages of talent, which leads to shortages in sales and profits.
Is It Time for a Culture Audit?
Have you decided that a new focus on culture is a priority? Then maybe it’s time for your company to undergo a cultural audit. Here are some steps that we take to perform audits for our clients:
We help you understand your current culture. We start by conducting research to understand your company’s current status and define where the culture is now. We accomplish this two ways:
- Blind survey to all employees. We have these on file, so please feel free to call our office. We’re happy to email you one for free!
- SWOT Session. Without the CEO or managers in the room, we assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of working in your company’s current environment. SWOT sessions are much more effective when conducted by a trained facilitator. Otherwise, these meetings can turn into a “bitch-fest.”
Once we’ve collected the survey and SWOT data, we analyze it to understand what current employees enjoy about their jobs, so that we can leverage that in promoting and further defining the corporate culture. It also provides some insight into issues that need to be corrected.
We help you further define and refine your corporate culture. Once you better understand your current culture, many things will become obvious. You will learn what to preserve, what corrective actions should be taken, and how to further define and communicate your culture.
Every business has unique values. But too often they aren’t consistently promoted, especially internally. Culture must be promoted in the workplace and supported by a written plan. The plan should outline behavioral expectations, values, regular measurements, employee recognition programs, and frequent communication methods.
For example, if you decide that “world-class service” is a part of your culture, then you should have specific benchmarks, definitions, and communications in place that remind employees and customers what “world-class service” looks like. Furthermore, you should formally reward and recognize employees who exemplify this quality.
Measure. Measure. Measure: There is no “right” culture. But you do need to be relentless about gaging yours and focusing on continuous improvement. With some clients, we conduct follow-up employee surveys once or twice a year and publish the final results to the entire staff. The majority of the time, we see improvements and celebrate them with all employees.
Bottom line: companies that have a consistent set of values and a strong, well-articulated company culture have happier employees. That translates to winning talent and increasing revenues. It’s up to you to decide what’s important for your company to succeed. But in our experience, if you want to be competitive for both market share and talent, consider starting inside, with culture.