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What’s Your Strategy to Create a Great Company Culture?

We reached out to some HR influencers to find out. As you’ll see, some advocate taking small, incremental steps, while others think focusing on the big picture is the way to go.

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Credit: istock

Much has been made about the potential of “digital transformation” to make companies more competitive, to engage more closely with customers, and to speed everything from decision making to time-to-market. This digital revolution has also impacted employees, and not always in a positive fashion.

Always connected workers often work longer hours, both onsite and off, and the pace and volume of work has steadily increased for many employees. An Ernst & Young (EY) study found that one-third of full-time employees say that managing the work-life balance had become more difficult over the past five years.

Given the mounting pressures and complexities associated with today’s business environment, what can organizations do to create a more cohesive company culture, where employees feel more connected to their work and to each other? To find out, we reached out to some HR influencers recently via Twitter. As you’ll see, some advocate taking small, incremental steps, while others think focusing on the big picture is the way to go.

Make the small things matter

“Allowing the team to play is an important part of improving lives at a company,” says Damian Madray (@themadray), Founder and Chief Experience Officer at The Glint. “We do ‘Future Fridays,’ where as a team we allow ourselves to play.”

For Austen Leonard (@austinleonard), Vice President, Omni Solutions, at Rakuten Marketing, daily team lunches help create community. “It’s not just a free lunch, it’s actually a great way to take a break and get to know your teammates on a personal level,” he says.

“One company in Montreal has a coffee shop with a full-time barista inside its office,” says Jacob Shriar (@JacobShriar), Director of Content at Officevibe. “It creates a space where employees can connect, network, and build relationships.”

Laurie Ruettimann (@lruettimann), Founder and CEO at GlitchPath, thinks it’s important for companies to “go old school” and create meaningful connections.

“It’s fine to work from home, but we’re not robots,” she says. “We need beautiful places to work and centralized ways to collaborate in real life. Old school is the new school. Give employees a fabulous work experience when they work, and then give them time to go home and get some emotional and mental distance from work.”

Finding that right work-life balance is also something that resonates profoundly with Monica Eaton-Cardone (@Monica_Eaton), COO at Chargebacks911.

“We pride ourselves on providing our team members with the resources necessary to be healthy, focused, and successful—physically as well as mentally,” she says. “To this end, we arrange free gym memberships and complimentary fitness sessions with a fully licensed personal trainer during corporate office hours. We also engage in company-wide recreational activities, such as bowling, kickball, and dodgeball. Not only do these activities help employees stay in great shape, but it also promotes team building.”

Think big (and transform how work gets done)

Monika Fahlbusch (@monikafahlbusch), Chief Employee Experience Officer at BMC Software, makes the case that there is no “one size fits all” approach to creating a positive culture. Each company has its own “unique DNA,” she maintains.

“There are many ways leaders can strive to create great company culture,” she says. “Here are three that we focus on. First, listen to employees, hear their suggestions, and put thoughtful consideration into what would or would not make sense to implement. Second, use your own solutions to your advantage. At BMC, we’ve used our suite of digital workplace tools to transform how our employees collaborate and get work done anywhere, any time, on any device. Third, try to get every employee connected to the business. A digital workplace can close a lot of gaps and create a ‘messaging cascade’ from the C-Suite on down to create greater alignment.”

Paul Falcone (@PaulFalconeHR), a senior human resources executive, believes the strongest company cultures are promoted by good communications programs and “management by walking around.”

“When employees see that senior leaders are accessible, willing to listen to them directly, and responsive to their needs, cultures generally thrive,” he says. “It all stems from selfless leadership, a healthy sense of ‘otherness,’ and an awareness that senior leadership cares about its people.”

Laura Smith (@LauraSmithSPHR), Vice President of Global Human Resources at DISYS, says her company has gone so far as to create a cultural taskforce, charged with talking to employees at all levels to identify the top cultural change needs.

“The cultural taskforce’s work is already helping to make a difference,” she says. “Cultural change takes time in any organization, and with systematic and transparent dialogue the shift will occur. The necessary ingredients in creating a great company culture include honesty, consistency, persistence, fearlessness, and accountability.”

Investing heavily in employee training and development is an essential strategy, according to Lori Almeida, Chief Talent Officer at Siegel+Gale.  

“We look for conferences that both educate and inspire,” she says. “My team reviews performance appraisals and looks at what employees need, and then we offer a bespoke approach to finding development resources for them. Our employees truly live our values of ‘smart, nice, and unstoppable.’”

Hiring the right people is key, says Mike Haberman (@MikeHaberman), Consultant and Partner at Omega HR Solutions.

“You have to sit down, think about, and discuss what has been right about your culture to date, then make sure you have a selection process that will perpetuate the good things,” he says.

Ultimately, the goal of every organization should be to “make your workspace great,” says Sarah Morgan (@TheBuzzOnHR), a blogger at The Buzz On HR. “That means creating an environment that is cool, kind, and unique so people can flourish.”

Want more advice on creating a great company culture? Go to love.espresa.com.

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