Beyond “Touchy-Feely”: 4 Steps to Culture-Driven Success

The Culture Equation Journey is a proven multi-year program empowering employees to take ownership of company objectives. Jessica Kriegel, Chief Scientist of Workplace Culture, outlines the steps.

Workplace culture is clearly important to both employees and employers. According to 47% of job seekers, it’s what drives them to look for a new job. And 91% of leaders and managers say it’s just as important for a hire as having specific skill sets. But is your culture working for or against you? Approaches to developing or changing a company’s workplace culture are radically askew, with many models focused on intangible “touchy-feely” factors instead of what culture really is: an engine for business results.

With more than 15 years of experience as a workplace culture expert, I’ve created intentional cultures for global, national, and Fortune 100 companies. The changes I’ve implemented are based on one foundational insight: Every organization has a culture, and it either works for or against you.

In my experience, the difference between business success and failure often comes down to whether leaders are able to communicate and activate their organization’s culture for employees. Culture, it turns out, is what keeps companies alive and healthy. And after having analyzed decades worth of workplace metrics and dashboards, it has become clear that having a well-aligned culture enables organizations to meet their business goals.

A culture’s importance is not about liking the people you work with — although that’s important. It’s about people working together to meet bottom-line objectives. And it has to evolve based on the results a company is seeking to achieve. This is particularly true today when company culture and the promise of a return on culture is being challenged by the rise of the hybrid workforce.

In order for organizations to make needed changes in their workplace culture, leaders have to reevaluate and refocus on it each and every day. An aligned culture will ensure they hire, retain, and advance the right people around purpose, cultural beliefs, and outcomes. It will also allow them to build trust, boost engagement, create a resilient workforce, get better DE&I results, increase retention, and grow revenue, just to name a few of the performance outcomes that should be on every leader’s wish list.

Results-Driven Culture in the Hybrid Workplace

The pandemic has permanently altered the workforce. After getting a taste of remote work, many employees expect to continue working remotely or in a hybrid capacity. According to a recent survey, 53% of employees expect a hybrid work arrangement and 23% of employees expect to work fully remote.

However, many employees and employers feel more disconnected in hybrid and remote work environments. Another recent study shows that employees who work remotely are more likely to feel pressure to work while sick, negatively impacting their work/life balance. Employees are also more likely to feel uneasy about changes in the workplace.

Despite these statistics, workers clearly want the option to work in a hybrid setting. To prevent employees and businesses from experiencing the harmful impacts of a remote work environment, employers must find a way to build a positive workplace culture. And this requires leaders to focus on activating their culture for sustained growth.

4 Steps to Culture-Driven Success

The culture journey is a proven multiyear program designed to empower everyone in an organization — regardless of position or department — to take personal ownership of its business objectives. Here are the steps organizations need to take:

1. Commit to your culture strategy

When left unchecked, culture takes on a life of its own. Culture management must be intentional and thoughtful. Design a culture that empowers every employee to take ownership over the success of your organization.

2. Align the leadership team

It is critical to get everyone on your leadership team on the same page when it comes to your targeted results. When different leaders direct their teams to target disparate goals, chaos ensues and results are not achieved.

3. Develop your culture systems

Culture is experience shaping beliefs which drive actions and results. Create experiences for your employees that inspire the beliefs you want them to hold about your organization and about their value in it.

4. Adjust your human systems

Policy and procedure are not a replacement for culture, but you should have systems in place that acknowledge the human component of the workplace, such as a policy for how to respond when an employee has a sick child. We all have lives outside of work. A good culture recognizes and supports this.

Building an Intentional Culture

To drive strong business results, a company culture has to empower with accountability, so that employees understand and embrace their role in the success of the company. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating this type of company culture, but it is a journey that requires participation from the C-suite to the frontline.

Leaders also have to establish goal-focused principles and practices that align to the company’s objectives as the foundation of their culture. They need to implement customized plans to create a results-driven culture that will deliver lasting impact in achieving business goals. And they have to be committed to doing this work over the long term.

The importance of a strong company culture is not a new phenomenon. But by focusing on the why and what culture can do for their business, employers and leaders can build strong companies and organizations that are set up for success.

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