What is your company working on right now to make it even more successful? Is it implementing better marketing strategies? Is it incorporating Lean principles? Is it evaluating the hiring process and bringing the right people in? How about workplace culture? When is the last time your company evaluated the condition of your workplace culture?
Maintaining a healthy workplace culture is just as important as incorporating Lean principles or updating your hiring process. It is an aspect of your business that you need to continually review, study, and ultimately nurture. According to Vistage proponent Rick Seaman, “a company’s culture consists of the shared values and codes of conduct that bind everyone together. It defines how people act toward each other and toward their customers.”1 Your company’s culture impacts everyone who has a part in your business, from your employees to your customers—read on for some ways you can help ensure your workplace culture is helping, and not hindering, your business.
Ask the Right Questions
Finding the pulse of your workplace culture can be done in several ways. One way to go about it is to have someone in your company conduct mini-interviews with staff on the floor, in the field, or in the office. Further, it is ideal to meet with staff who have been with the company for a long time or who are considered the “backbone” of their department. You can ask staff questions about the company’s mission, their views on the quality of the communication throughout the company, evidence of respect between all staff members, etc. Ultimately, you are asking questions that reveal what they think about the company and things they wish were changed or improved. While this is certainly a good way to find out more about the pulse of your workplace culture, I believe that there is an even more telling way.
Survey the Culture
With the understanding that “to change your culture, to enhance your culture, to benefit from your culture, you need to see and understand the existing culture,”2 Book Depot has issued an annual survey to its entire staff for the past three years that focuses on workplace culture. I believe conducting a recurring survey is one of the best tools a business can use to find out more about the current state of its workplace culture as well as to track changes to the culture over time. The survey must be fully anonymous, staff should be paid if they are completing it outside of work time, and all staff should complete it within a 3 – 4 week period from the date of issue. In addition, it is important that senior leadership reviews the highlights (and lowlights!) of the survey with all staff to show that their feedback is valued and the trends are being addressed.
Analyze the Results and Act
Carefully reviewing the results of the survey should generate a good list of strategic goals. Examples of these strategic goals might be better communication, more staff appreciation, improved training methods, remedial supervisor training, retooling the recruitment and hiring process, consistent visibility of senior leadership, and so on. Core teams should be selected to work toward each strategic goal within a set time frame with the aim of reaching or exceeding each goal and then maintaining them.
So, what has our annual survey told us about Book Depot?
Every company has strengths and weaknesses in their workplace culture. For us, consistent, good communication throughout the entire company was identified as a main point of focus. Realizing this, we gave our monthly newsletter a major facelift, added a private Facebook page that is only accessible to staff for company announcements and achievements, and increased the frequency and number of postings throughout our warehouse and office. The feedback we have seen on subsequent surveys has been positive and shows us that the changes we implemented have made a difference.
Introduce New Initiatives
Over the last few years, we have continued to introduce new company-wide initiatives to further engage and motivate our staff. If you’re not sure where to start with adding new initiatives to your company, consider some of the below examples we have implemented that have been very impactful to growing our culture:
- Employee of the Month and performance awards
- Utilization of personality assessments as a tool for hiring (e.g. the Predictive Index)
- Replacing performance reviews with Catalytic Coaching
- Paid day off on staff members’ birthday
- Work anniversary rewards
- Summer BBQ
- Christmas parties (one for staff and one just for kids!)
- Health and Wellness program (e.g. Zumba classes held onsite)
In closing, a sound workplace culture will contribute to your company’s success. Each time we conduct the survey, we see evidence of growth in our workplace culture and the pulse is ever present. All visitors and future employees will observe great teamwork on the floor, happy staff, quality work being completed, and in the end, happy customers! Everybody wins!
If you have any questions or would like to share some of the strategies you use to cultivate your workplace culture, please feel free to comment below.
Daryl Van Dyke
1 Growth Resources, Inc. n.d. CEO Best Practice: Corporate Culture. Accessed October 26, 2018. http://www.growthresource.com/best-practices/best-practice-corporate-culture.html.
2 Heathfield, Susan. 2018. How to Understand Your Current Company Culture. March 12. Accessed October 26, 2018. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-understand-your-current-culture-1918811.