By Tammy Johnson
Culture. if you haven’t picked up on this business buzzword yet you might be living under a rock.
Long before pingpong tables in the break room became a selling point, a company’s culture was, of course, important to its employees. But over the last few years as millennials have entered the workplace, culture has become a main recruiting tool and employee retention factor. There is evidence of it in job postings and on company websites, and the position of culture manager is becoming more standard. The truth is, though, culture is so much more than having a keg of the local brewery’s IPA in the common area.
In order for a company to retain employees, which will, in turn, translate to customer satisfaction and profit, the culture has to be thoughtful, and expressed strategically through internal and external channels. Culture must be aspirational — full of vision and inspiration — but it must also be implemented practically. If your employees aren’t living and breathing your culture, you may want to think about making a “culture reset” your project for the new year. Here are a few ideas to make that happen:
- Survey your employees: Ask them what is important to them in a business environment.
Respect them enough to think beyond free coffee and raises; consider if transparency and development opportunities are evident and what else is important to their satisfaction.
- Get buy-in: Developing culture isn’t just one person’s job. It’s the responsibility of the entire team. If you can create a culture committee, seek out and empower key individuals at every level of the company who would invest as stakeholders in developing your culture.
- Review your values: For many organizations, the corporate mission, vision and values live on a plaque in the lobby and are rarely brought to life. In reality, your team should be living and breathing your values every single day. If your values are stale, it may be time to rewrite them. Personally, I’m a fan of concise values that are easily memorized.
- Brainstorm ideas: Maybe you’ll offer a town hall breakfast with the CEO once a month or start an employee referral program. Get as many ideas together as you can, assess the feasibility and create an implementation calendar. Keep in mind, though, that culture is your driving word — not profit. Good culture will lead to profits organically.
- Tell stories: Having a good internal culture is one step, but it’s important to express your culture externally as well. We’ve all seen the warmhearted social media posts about culture champions such as Southwest Airlines, Zappos and Chick-fil-A. Showcase employees’ good deeds, celebrate big wins and even let your vulnerability show. Internally, craft an employee newsletter that shares those stories in order to inspire more individual involvement.
- Create career roadmaps: Do your employees know what the next steps in their careers are? If not, they are bound to find that step with another employer. Keep in mind employees ages 21-25 on average stay at a job for 1.2 years because they often don’t know what their future holds at an organization, and they want to get promoted quickly. Provide employees with development stages they need to complete before a promotion is considered. During this stage you may also recognize that some people aren’t a fit for your organization, and it may be time to counsel them out.
- Review your hiring process: Great culture starts with the hiring process. Evaluate your interview process and candidate profiles. Make sure you are asking culture-driven behavioral questions during the interview process. Have at least one committee interview, and if one person doesn’t think the applicant will stand up to the culture, don’t hire them.
Taking on a culture reset is not an easy project, but it’s one that will have incredible rewards if done right. But follow-through is the key; your employees will have a hard time envisioning their futures with your company if you don’t. Give yourself realistic goals and keep the team abreast of the status. Your organization will be in a stronger place before you know it.
Tammy Johnson is the CEO and president of High Spirits Hospitality, the parent company of culture-driven brands including Liquid Catering, The Old Cigar Warehouse, Bravo1 Protection and High Spirits events. Learn more at www.highspiritshospitality.com.