This guest blog has been provided by Kevin Sheridan, best-selling author and innovator in the field of Employee Engagement.
Leaders in all industries are constantly wondering how to improve company culture. There are myriad benefits to achieving world-class culture, not the least of which are: higher profitability, improved customer service, enhanced talent attraction, and superior talent retention. Below are six of the most unique and proven means of achieving a best-in-class organizational culture. Three of the six secrets were discovered by noticing three consistent commonalities among the thousands of best-in-class organizations (top 10%) with whom I worked in my 35 years as a culture and employee engagement consultant.
The full engagement solution does not rest solely on the shoulders of management, but rather, actively includes the employee in the solution. So many organizations have yet to employ this sage tactic. Try sharing this quick assessment with your employees, to help them discover their own level of job engagement, and receive tips on what they can do to find more meaning and satisfaction at work.
The fact that 59% of all new hires are gone within a year1 underscores the single greatest mistake organizations make vis-à-vis engagement: they hire the wrong people. During my career as a culture and employee engagement consultant, I noticed a consistent commonality among our best-in-class clients: they all applied great scrutiny to evaluating each job candidate they interviewed and never “settled” by overlooking candidate flaws or red flags during the interview process. In short, they took the advice I gave thousands of clients over the years: “If you are going to spend the time, money, and energy building a magnetic culture, you should only let magnetic people in.” Yes, be selfish. Be wonderfully selfish. You and your team deserve it.
Another related shortcoming is that there is no concerted effort to find alignment or “a match” between your culture and the job candidate’s values, beliefs, and preferences. Many organizations make the mistake of not openly sharing their culture with job candidates. Do not “hide” your culture. Instead, open the kimono. Let the job candidate see your organization’s culture, values, beliefs, and purpose, and encourage the candidate to do the same. In doing so, both parties can quickly determine if there is “a match,” which in the end, could save everyone a lot of time, money, and energy. For tips on refining your recruiting and hiring best practices, check out my blog post “Hiring Right: Fine Tuning Your Recruiting Efforts to Avoid Mis-hires.”
As an employee engagement keynote speaker, I am very surprised to field questions on how to coach an “old time senior leader” on letting go of rigid workplace policies and work hours. Premier cultures prize offering flexible work hours, as well as work-from-home benefits. Given that job stress/work life imbalance is the number one reason employees resign2, affording workplace flexibility is a strong enhancement to culture. This tip is also a best practice given the expectations the two youngest generations of workers, those being Millennials and the generation after them, Gen Z. Telling these two generations that they have set work hours and that they are not allowed to work from home is their definition of a workplace prison.
If some members of your team need convincing on the value of workplace flexibility when it comes to company culture, read my blog post “Have a manager who is opposed to virtual work?” and use it to convert them; it well illustrates the immense benefits of workplace flexibility, virtual work, virtual employees, and virtual teams.
Any workplace culture that eschews diversity & inclusion (D&I) is a doomed one. The world is as diverse as it has ever been, and great organizations proactively initiate efforts on cultural diversity to reflect that reality. Multiple research studies have reported a proven linkage between diversity & inclusion and employee engagement. Thus, if you care about talent attraction and talent retention, which are synonymous with employee engagement, you better also care about D&I.
This is another proven secret when you’re trying to figure out how to improve company culture and performance. Raising the bar on oneself and one’s workforce is the second of the aforementioned three commonalities of best-in-class cultures and organizations. The CEOs and management teams of world-class cultures consistently raise the bar on themselves and their teams. Typically, when I presented an organization’s employee engagement survey scores to them, I could tell them they scored in the 97th percentile (top 3%) and invariably their CEO would congratulate his/her management team and then announce “But we are not done yet. We want to be at the 99th percentile next year.” Great cultures do not shoot for average. Instead, they aim for the pinnacle of excellence, and ultimately, they achieve it.
Recognizing again that the single greatest reason people quit is job stress, what better medicine for that than fun? People love to have fun and share some laughs when they’re working, but sadly, hundreds of millions toil through sad, stressful, and torturous workdays. Day, after day, after day. Sadder still is the fact that most of these people accept this drudgery as a reality that they must accept. We spend so much time at work so don’t we deserve to have more fun while we work? We most certainly do! And yes, you guessed it: leveraging fun is the third commonality among best-in-class organizations.
So why not shake up your workplace culture with some fun, laughter, and levity? To learn more about the power of bringing fun into your workday, check on my blog post “Fun: The missing driver of employee engagement and recruiting.”
When you understand how to improve company culture by focusing on employee engagement, it’s much easier to find actionable ways to move the needle and make a real impact. Even stepping it up on a couple of these options should make a difference at your organization.
Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For six years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017 & 2018.
Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.
Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.