When it comes to job hunting, potential employees are looking for more than just attractive benefits packages and competitive salaries. Applicants would like to know what the corporate culture is and how they would fit into that culture. Traditionally, HR departments did not play a role in driving company culture, but that is starting to change. Corporate culture goes beyond just offering team building activities and free lunches, it can affect productivity, attraction, and retention as well.
One can think of company culture as a company’s personality. It includes the things that make a business stand out from the competition. Company culture is built on mutual respect and understanding for employees and takes different work styles into consideration so the company’s mission can be fulfilled.
Human resources professionals can play a key role in shaping a positive company culture. The policies instituted by HR departments are critical in helping employees understand what the company’s core values are as well as how they contribute to those values. Here, we will outline what HR departments can do to facilitate a healthy company culture and how it can be evaluated to determine its effectiveness.
Understand the Difference Between Company Culture and Leadership
Many think that corporate culture is directly tied to a company’s leadership. While the leadership at a company does have some impact on corporate culture, there’s more to it than that. Executives are rarely on the front lines of the company, so they are often somewhat removed from the day-to-day activities of non-management employees.
Middle and upper management may also be out of touch with entry-level employees, developing their own subculture based on those they interact with the most. However, leadership does set the tone for the company. How leaders behave directly influences the behavior of everyone else.
Most HR professionals understand that having low turnover rates means that their company is generally well-regarded. As a result, those in executive positions strive to make their workplaces as comfortable for everyone as possible. In fostering a positive corporate culture, human resources departments must focus their efforts on what makes their company unique.
This can be accomplished by surveying current employees and asking them their opinions on what is working, what isn’t, and soliciting their suggestions for improvement. Ideally, HR departments should implement training and education programs not only for lower and mid-level employees, but also for executive staff. One goal of training is to create consensus on what is acceptable behavior in the workplace.
Communication Is Key
Communication is a critical component of establishing a strong corporate culture. Human resources professionals should consult with employees at all levels prior to implementing major policy changes. Doing this helps HR departments understand what employees want and need; this information can enable HR to find a common ground that everyone can be happy with.
HR departments should welcome feedback and criticism from employees. An open-door policy encourages employees to be honest about issues in the workplace that could directly affect company culture. Once an environment is created where employees feel comfortable sharing, company culture is likely to improve.
Focus on Employee Engagement
Human resources professionals are tasked with identifying the positive aspects of a company and building upon them. However, HR professionals should first seek to understand whether any employees are dissatisfied, and if so, why. This is one of the strategies used by companies that repeatedly make the “best places to work” lists.
Employee engagement service surveys enable HR to solicit anonymous feedback from employees. Since responses are anonymous, employees know that their opinions will not be linked to them. This encourages honesty. Employee engagement surveys may gauge how happy people are in their respective roles, what makes them want to come to work every day, and what motivates them, as well as a host of other factors that affect how they feel about the company.
It is challenging to change corporate culture, but with a comprehensive plan, it can definitely be improved over time. Human resources professionals should understand that they are key in helping companies mold a positive corporate culture and that their efforts are directly connected to facilitating lasting change.
Since company culture has become such a hot topic in the management world, HR departments have begun to focus on it more intensively in recent years. HR professionals are under increased pressure to address poor corporate culture. While HR has only limited power to change company culture, it can be an integral part of helping get the conversation started and serving as a bridge between upper and lower management.