Create a culture that lasts

Recruiting and retaining talent is a challenge in many industries right now. Global labor shortages are creating headaches for everyone from healthcare decision makers that can’t find enough medical staff members to manufacturers and installers who must fiercely compete for trade laborers. 

Across the board, thousands of Baby Boomers are retiring every day, meaning businesses are constantly losing their most trusted, knowledgeable employees. Millennials are taking some of the vacated jobs, but they’re looking for things like work/life balance, quick advancement and access to the latest technology… and employers aren’t always ready or able to provide that.

Meanwhile, frequent mergers and acquisitions create discontent among employees faced with constantly changing products, services, geographic reach and company culture. This is compounded by regulatory changes, leadership transitions and economic uncertainty… and it’s more than some employees are willing to bear.

If you’re going to stand out to prospective employees while keeping your current employees happy, you need to create an environment where people don’t just want to work—they can’t wait to do so. That means creating a strong organizational culture. 

The Case for Culture 
Recent Deloitte research places culture with engagement and employee retention at the top of the list of challenges facing business leaders. But what does that mean, exactly?

According to a Forbes piece by William Craig, “Company culture is something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them… Culture is currency.”  Creating a strong culture is about creating clarity of purpose, employee engagement and an environment of trust… and that ultimately yields real bottom-line benefits for your business.

Focusing on culture is especially important when targeting Millennials, who have replaced Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce. Millennials are looking for flexibility, open communication and a clear understanding of how they tie into the “bigger picture” of success for the organization (or a greater cause). They’re a discerning audience, and many of them won’t settle for working just anywhere.

Generations aside, any employee could benefit from a strong organizational culture. And making one a reality means bigger changes than instituting “dress-down Fridays” or providing free food for employees. Visible perks are nice, and can support a culture program, but developing an attractive and productive culture requires something deeper.

-It’s about developing an organization where everyone knows and shares core values, believing in organizational integrity.

-It’s about clearly communicating those values, building emotional investment in them from top to bottom of the organization. 

-It’s about practicing what you preach, rewarding behaviors of those who live up to your organization’s cultural ideals.

-It’s about influencing and creating value for stakeholders outside of your organization—ones who benefit when employees love their jobs. 

-It’s about creating a place where your values drive decisions organically, and one day you realize you no longer have to try.

Ultimately, building an attractive culture is about creating a great place to work. But it’s also about harnessing the power of engaged employees who will be your brand ambassadors, recruiting advocates and passionate protectors of the culture you build. 

Five Steps Towards a Winning Culture
A strong culture starts with strong communications. In fact, organizations with effective communications are 3.5 times more likely to score highly on customer satisfaction metrics, and Millennials are twice as likely to stay with their employers if they feel engaged.  Need help getting started? Here are five communication-driven steps you can take to start building a culture that drives your business forward.

1. Manifest your manifesto. Gather a team of employees from across your organization to review and define the essence of your culture. Ask them to answer questions like, “What draws you to this organization? What makes our workplace culture unique? What do we do better than anyone else? What should we do better than anyone else?” Compile notes, and then create a cultural manifesto around the organizational values that everyone can get behind. 

2. Don’t just send an email. A meaningful culture requires everyone to understand and buy into a shared vision. Train employees on brand values, and be sure they understand their roles in driving success. Consider formalizing a committee tasked with bringing your culture to life, working as internal advocates and fostering your shared vision throughout the organization.

3. Recognize good behavior. Empower employees to recognize one another for embracing culture on a daily basis, and make it a point of pride to embody the values of your organization. At akhia communications, we have 10 defined values and employees nominate each other for Values Awards when we see someone truly living by our shared ideals. This perpetuates an even greater embrace of what makes us, us.

4. Keep up the conversation. A strong organizational culture requires more than a one-off mission statement. Things will change in your business, from mergers and acquisitions to leadership changes and restructuring. Reinforce with employees that your culture will stand strong, no matter what, and that the organization’s guiding principles will carry you through any challenges. For instance, when our founder retired, we learned that communicating clearly and rallying around our values can contribute to a smoother transition. 

5. Be willing to adjust. Organizations change, industries change and cultures change… And that isn’t always a bad thing. In the same way you’re shifting to a new generation taking over the workforce today, you’ll probably need to make shifts in your culture again tomorrow. Create a process for consistently receiving and acting on feedback, and engage in two-way communication with employees that have new ideas. That’s the secret to lasting cultural success.

There’s power in culture. Whether you’re searching for ways to overcome staffing challenges, foster internal alignment or persevere through times of transition, never underestimate the value of a compelling culture backed by communications that drive your business.

We take culture seriously at akhia communications, and we understand the challenges our clients are facing when building up theirs. Reach out and we’ll help find a strategy that’s right for you.

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