• Olivia Graham

Culture is crucial, now more than ever

As a dedicated Employee Experience agency, one of our main practice areas focuses on communication, both internally within companies and externally. The way teams communicate statically has a large impact on their overall productivity and profitability. Forbes has shared that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. The strongest and highest functioning teams often operate in environments that foster positive habits and employees who are empowered to speak up when something could be working better. To this end, it has been proven that employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

One of our favorite tasks as strategic partners is to highlight the opportunity to marry Human Resources programs with leadership and internal communications. All teams, whether or not they have previously invested in engagement, have some kind of culture. It is crucial to understand what, if anything, your leaders have done to date to establish or identify a cultural blueprint. If no investment has been made yet, we typically find that employees are focused on their deliverables without understanding what it ladders up to or why what they are responsible for matters in the grand scheme of the enterprise. Leaders who have prioritized fostering a culture of communication, transparency, unity and equity tend to find their teams incredibly engaged and far less burnt out. This not only serves employee wellbeing but also the profitability of the company overall as disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year.

A continuing trend we see is that for everyone from junior staff to the c-suite, purpose drives results and motivation. Understanding the purpose of your organization and your role in achieving that success means the difference between clocking out at 5 PM on the dot and going the extra mile. This is where culture comes in, it speaks to the community of your team and each employee's understanding of their role in the success of one another.

If a company has yet to develop and circulate communications about their professional culture, we take a holistic, top-to-bottom approach. Try conducting an audit of what enterprise communications look like currently and launch an employee survey to understand what employees think of the current environment to gauge where we need to fill in gaps. Employees can truly serve as your largest asset, so our team encourages leaders to engage them as much as possible. Going through the process of curating a specific culture or environment is not productive if it does not meet the needs of the people who exist within it. We then create one cohesive narrative to tell your organization’s story in a succinct and clear way so that all employees new and tenured understand the same mission and values.

Finally, the word must be spread to all stakeholders. Often times employees are overlooked in this process, however they are a company’s most vital stakeholder. First and foremost, we need to ensure that the culture or environment that exists is conducive to delivering upon the set goals. We must also enable them to share this story, both with each other and with their external colleagues. This brings us to external stakeholders, who ideally will remain informed by key leaders who are not only brand champions but are comfortable serving as executive thought leaders across social channels. Sharing this cohesive company story across platforms aligns your brand identity with your corporate reputation.

The most crucial aspect of this process is sustainability. This is our red thread that guides the entire cultural architecture. Successful solutions serve to grow with you and should evolve as your team or company does. Teams must work diligently to communicate with leaders along the way to strike a balance of growth and commitment, as well as manageable and realistic goal setting to set our clients up for long term success.

In this time of remote work, a strong yet flexible company culture will serve as the backbone that teams can rest on when they need support. These are difficult times, so let’s work together to support each other’s needs because we will get each other through this.