Today’s organizations are operating in a transparent era, where every conduct and decision is monitored closely. Technological disruptions and social media such as Facebook, Linkedin and Glassdoor are empowering employees by giving them an easy access to the information about organizations and their culture.
‘Organizational Culture’ is a broad, encompassing construct that signifies beliefs, prevailing values and norms, behaviors, and practices of an organization; it is considered as an important factor in driving company’s success. According to E&Y, 55% of the FTSE 350 companies have seen a 10% increase in operating profits driven by their investment in culture. Overall, 92% of the Board Members of these companies said that a focus on culture had improved their financial performance. Organizational Culture is predominantly governed by leaders and operating systems which influence employees’ behaviors and their engagement levels. Recent research by Deloitte suggests that culture has become one of the most important business topics and CEOs and HR leaders now recognize that culture drives people’s behavior, innovation, engagement and customer service. It’s been observed that employees are at their productive best and want to stay when their personal values are closely aligned with that of organizational values and its culture. Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, concern for employee well-being and engagement, job fit, and strong leadership outperform their peers and emerge as a great competitive advantage. On the other hand, unfulfilling and toxic work culture can act as ‘Achilles heel’ for organizations which adversely impacts employee engagement levels.
Let’s delve into some of the ways by which organizational culture can influence and strengthen employee engagement levels:
Leaders as ‘Culture Advocates’:
Organizational culture is usually driven from the top down. Therefore, it becomes imperative that the organizational leadership is strong and capable of creating a positive influence within the system. The values and belief system espoused by the leaders cast a major influence on the people and is greatly emulated by the workforce. Therefore, it is important that leaders advocate and demonstrate positive values such as empowerment, employee well-being, integrity, and high performance so that the same can be cascaded down to the levels below. Nothing is more inspiring to the employees than seeing their leaders ‘leading by example’!
Treating employees as customers:
In the present scenario, where issues such as attrition, skill shortages, and workforce mobility are on the rise, talented employees are in great demand. Today’s workers have a new perspective regarding their work-life preferences and want to pursue their interests and passion. The need for organizations is to be aware of their interests, understand their passions and preferences and weave those in their job design.
Integrating technology with culture:
In this era of disruptions, a culture which has successfully embraced technology for its employees’ betterment will more likely to keep its employees engaged and productive. Integrating technology with organizational culture can reap benefits in the following areas:
- Improving Collaborative Working: In the coming years, a large part of the workforce will work virtually and will push organizations to adopt necessary technologies to streamline it. Trends like ‘Telecommuting’ is already a rage which is shown to reduce work-related stress, increase employees’ morale and improve their attendance. Organizations are utilizing some technical tools to encourage workers to work virtually and more collaboratively, for an instance, tools related to file-sharing, mass storage, project management and shared whiteboards and forums are organizing tasks better and allowing employees to chat in between tasks.
- Open Communication: An open and healthy communication within the organization makes any culture more transparent and inclusive. Important messages (e.g. merger-related announcements, layoffs, hikes, bonuses, restructuring etc.) when delivered succinctly and on time make employees more reassured and confident about the organization. With today’s technologies, it’s easy to use social media and collaboration tools to keep up-to-date on projects and other critical information instantaneously.
- Facilitating learning through Gamification: A culture which encourages learning through a variety of modalities (e.g. classroom, on-the-job, mobile learning, e-learning etc) result in more engaged and motivated workforce. Integrating gamification with training has shown to improve employee participation rates in e-learning courses. Gamification also makes the entire experience more fun and compelling.
- Fostering peer to peer recognition: Lack of recognition has been cited as one of the foremost reasons for employees’ unhappiness at work while culture which acknowledges good work and reward the same ensures more engaged workforce. Now there are smart tools available which encourage peer to peer recognition on a regular basis to boost employee morale and teamwork.
Creating compelling work environment:
A culture is always comprised of tangible (e.g. infrastructure) and intangible elements (e.g. values, beliefs, and norms). While it is necessary to be aware of the intangible elements, caring for tangible aspects is also important. For instance, Google, a highly rated “best place to work”, focuses heavily on culture and regularly measures dozens of factors to understand what makes people productive and happy. Google has been successful in understanding its employees’ needs and giving them one of the most compelling and fun work environment.
Regard for employee well-being:
When employees are happier and healthier, they are better organizational citizens and more engaged! An organization which cares for its employees and run employee wellness programs are perceived more positively by its employees. A lot of organizations are promoting employee wellness programs like yoga classes, walking challenges, weight loss challenges etc which are being liked by the employees. By 2018, U.S. employers will integrate more than 13 million wearable health and fitness tracking devices into their employee wellness programs. Few organizations have successfully integrated fitness trackers into their workplace wellness programs which help employees meet individual fitness goals while helping their employers achieve corporate health goals.
Culture and engagement have a critical role to play in accelerating business performance. Culture gives you the big picture of how your organization is functioning and can be used to predict important metrics such as profitability and growth. Mostly, organizations rely on annual surveys to measure engagement and culture which is perilously obsolete in today’s dynamic environment. The good part is -new tools are emerging to provide organizations with real-time sentiment analysis, culture assessment, and employee feedback. These new tools make it possible for organizations to monitor employee sentiment on an ongoing basis and take necessary actions to plug the gap if any.