How to create company culture you and your employees can be proud of

By Cam Upshall, Director & Co-Founder
on June 10, 2019

How to create company culture you and your employees can be proud of

By Cam Upshall, Director & Co-Founder
on June 10, 2019
If your staff turnover is up and performance is down, perhaps it's time to take a good hard look at your company's culture.
Building inclusive and diverse cultures is predicted to be an important trend for Australian HR for 2019 and beyond. The reason for this is simple – with two-thirds of employers in the country seeing increased staff turnover over the past three years, the race is on to create a welcoming environment for workers to stop the churn.

Of course, culture encompasses more than inclusivity and diversity, and while we can go through complicated textbook definitions, Deloitte sums up culture nicely as "the way things work around here". It gives an organisation its unique identity and image, and sets it apart from competitors.

Clearly, "the way things work" in an organisation has a huge impact on its results. This makes intuitive sense: if employees are happy with the way things work and are therefore happy to be at work, think about what that would mean for workplace morale, retention, customer experience and consequently, business performance.

The stats around workforce culture alignment demonstrates this point.
When an organisation has a strong culture where employees live and breathe its values, organisations can increase their revenue goals by 9 percent, reputation outcomes by 16 percent and employee performance by 22 percent.
With that said, how do you develop a strong culture that you and your employees will embrace?
Culture based on shared values
While there are different opinions regarding how an organisation can develop a strong culture, there is a general consensus that shared values play an important role. Whether you're initiating changes to your company's culture or building it from the ground up, you need to identify values that resonate with people at all levels of the company. One way to achieve this is through involving staff across the organisation in discussions around values development.

But having a list of shared values is just a start. You need to put them into action by making major decisions based on them, so that they are reflected in people strategies, systems and processes of the business.

Of course, values need to be communicated to employees. They also need to be referred to and talked about regularly. Actions of senior management need to align with them and they should influence hiring decisions, organisational structure, physical workplace and communications.
Culture based on trust
In a sense, building a phenomenal culture means reinventing the employer and employee relationship. The modern workforce thrives when traditional protocols are replaced with trust, making faith in employees another crucial element of a workplace culture to strive for.

Overseas company Netflix has done it well in this aspect with its unlimited parental leave policy, which was established in line with its "freedom and responsibility" culture. Locally, trade job site hipages introduced a holiday daycare program where children of their staff can go into the office to learn about robotics and technology. Efforts like these from Netflix and hipages show employees their lives matter, and undoubtedly build trust, resulting in a more positive culture.
Building a unique culture
Of course, you can't replicate another organisation's culture and expect success. To put it simply, just as individuals differ from one another, no two organisations are exactly the same.

This means you have to establish a process to figure out the best way to connect and engage your employees, as well as what's right for your organisation given its unique factors and circumstances.

Now, the more you differentiate your culture, the more value it could add to your company. According to Gallup, a unique cultural identity helps you build a following and gives you the power to bring in top talent as well as top customers.
Why is it so bloody difficult?
Despite the widespread agreement that a strong culture can lead to improved performance and better retention, organisations in Australia are still falling short in their endeavours to establish a positive culture. Over the past 12 months in particular, the media has brought to light some bad and unscrupulous behaviour from many institutions, from banks, sports clubs to aged care providers.

So why is culture so hard to build and sustain?

Perhaps part of the answer is that culture is a long-term project that requires dedication, commitment and money.
Establishing culture isn't a "set and forget" exercise - it requires periodic reassessment and realignment. It needs to come from the top too, from strong management who prioritises company values in all important decisions.
While an organisation will benefit from investing in culture in the longer-term, investors may not like near-term profit implications, and this creates pressure as well as conflict for senior management.

Although it takes time and effort, you can strengthen your company's culture by making shared values the basis for everything you do. You must also show faith in your people and identify the things that make your company unique.

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