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Develop organizational culture

It is the people that make an organization. Even by hiring the best talent, putting in the necessary effort and walking an extra mile for their growth, development, training or onboarding won’t suffice, if organizational culture is not conducive enough. For the same reason, it has surfaced as an even bigger priority than just producing quality work.

If numbers are to be trusted, Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey shows that 82% of respondents consider culture as a crucial element that offers the company a significant competitive edge. 

The workforce of today demands the presence of a company culture that is well suited to meet their demands. Organizational culture is a reflection of the company’s personality. It clearly depicts the environment in which the workforce operates. 

The goal is to make the company’s work culture extraordinarily favourable. A perfect blend of values, morals, ethics, work environment and expectations will yield this. 

“Company Culture is the product of a company’s values, expectations and environment”

Courtney Chapman, Product Manager, Rubicon Project

A company based on the foundation of strong beliefs, backed up by strategies and structures, well-knit to weave them along, are the flesh and bones of good and inclusive company culture. By presenting a work culture to employees, a company acquaints them to set the standard of behaviours, expected responses and rewards. 

Although, giving shape to organizational culture is not a one-man job. It takes the combined effort of people and management at every level. Mostly considered as an HR’s task, the supervisors and managers at each distinct level must promote and present an ideal model, representing the company culture. The importance of a positive, well-knit company culture that oozes warmth and productivity cannot be ignored at any cost. For this reason, companies and organizations of today are hell-bent on providing all employees with the best that their culture can offer.

What is Organizational Culture?

To put it plainly, it is the culture of an organization that gives an outline of how employees are supposed to behave and the beliefs they are to hold. Nothing too incomprehensible or intricate, culture is the ambience combined with various elements that make any company the best place to work in. It is now more than ever, that millennials are looking for the perfect culture to work in. 

As per Fidelity® Evaluate a Job Offer Study, 58% of millennials went with “improved quality of work-life” when evaluating a job offer. 

Senior Vice President of Women & Young Investors Fidelity Investments, Kristen Robinson says, “Clearly, many young professionals are thinking about more than money and are willing to sacrifice a portion of their salary in exchange for a career move that more closely aligns with their values or passions or improves their work/life balance.”

Hence, culture is the binding element or the glue that holds everything in place. A company culture offers a set framework, one which is communicated and reinforced at various steps. To convey the intricate web of systems, that makes any company a living and breathing entity, is through solid company culture. It is the amalgamation of a variety of things. There are various subcultures to culture too. The idea is to work in a functioning environment with a set pattern of norms, that facilities work and everyday activities. 

A common trend seen nowadays is where both the recruiters and the job seekers hunt for employees and organizations respectively, which are favourable enough to work with/in. Simply, employers look for people who would easily fit in. While people look for a place that would be the best cultural fit for their growth and development.

In regards to organisational culture,

President and CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer says ” It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment & helping to find a way to innovate.”

Housing a strong culture is beneficial for the company and has both long term and short term benefits. Needless to say, employees find themselves much more productive working in such an environment.

It is extremely necessary for an employee to thoroughly understand the culture of a new company to fully imbibe all the values and morals they believe in. Similarly, it is a company that has to make efforts and present the authentic face of their organizational beliefs. 

For HR professionals, it is necessary that they perceive a clear picture of the company culture. When their concepts regarding culture are clear, only then would they be able to impact, improve or impart it. The HRM has to begin by understanding the core values that are central to an organization. The next step is to be sensible to basic human nature. Consequently, it will be decisive for how the organization behaves with the environment. Along with this, the popular emotions can be encouraged and the unwanted ones suppressed. 

The HR department of an organization has to give body to a corporate culture if it is undefined. More importantly, to keep an eye on the various ways a culture manifests itself in day to day practices is essential too. A diligent and controlled manner in which culture can be monitored is the demand of each organisation. Given the different ways that culture presents itself, commonly found work cultures are labelled as fun, restricting, progressive, ethical, employee or customer focussed, technology-driven, friendly etc. 

Sustaining Culture 

Besides developing culture, it is the responsibility of the HR department and the management alike to sustain and stabilize it. There are a variety of mini cultures that make up one single organizational culture. These are labelled as traits or artifacts. 

Broadly, there is the social, material and ideological culture. 

  • Social culture is composed of various groups and the responsibilities they share. This kind of culture encompasses various hierarchies, that demarcates the distribution of power. 
  • Material culture is indicative of the material, produce, results or achievements that each group yields. 
  • Ideological culture is the essential foundation that each group is based upon. It entails all values and beliefs that each group is governed with. Common and popular ideologies make up the ideological culture. 

To add value and maintain all these cultures in a corporate setting, the HR professionals, managers and supervisors must be open and sensitive to maintain its upkeep. To begin with, the following steps should be diligently followed –

  •  Develop an understanding of the company’s social, cultural and ideological culture.
  • Take into assessment the popular employee and cultural traits by looking into each level of the organization. 
  • Pick out those traits that largely align with the organization’s belief and convey them.
  • Build a culture management plan that governs and regulates the company’s culture.

Benefits of a Good Company Culture

The requirement of a work culture where the employees are easily able to communicate their thoughts, make queries and get quick solutions is an optimum place. A dynamic work culture like such will make any task seem like a cakewalk. Without a doubt, such an atmosphere is able to bring out the best. 

But apart from benefitting the employees, work culture has the following benefits for an individual organization – 

1. Forms Identity and Gives a Marketing Edge

Work culture is not only about smoothly building and giving shape to internal identity. The framework that defines how an organization will interact with the outside world, is also broadly covered under company culture. Culture frames a company’s external identity too. How a particular company manages its external affairs pertaining to interaction with customers, employees, suppliers, partners and stakeholders are all defined by culture. Organizational culture is indicative of the people that make up an organization. It upholds the ideas and popular beliefs to the outside world. 

With readily available information and transparency in functioning, the customers and the employees demand to be well aware of the morals or ethics a particular company is associated with. Each employee or leader should positively convey the culture of their company inherits. A positive culture is able to build a good reputation and improves goodwill. 

2. Core Values are Enliven

Core values are the ones that make up an organization. For the employees and everyone associated with the company, it becomes a necessity to play along the lines of these values. The presence of culture gives body to core values and ethics. Broadly speaking, culture is the embodiment of whatever values, morals and ethics that make up an organization. 

For the same, all company managers, policymakers or HR department personnel must positively mould to build culture. It should be such that it rightfully is able to depict and encompass all the kernel values. The goal is to resonate the core values throughout the organization. 

A good and strong organizational culture keeps all core values central. Most importantly, it utilizes and abides by these values so they are made use of regularly. 

3. Facilities Employee Transformation

An ideal organization is one where employees voluntarily want to contribute because they feel valued and important. It shouldn’t be just the paycheck or rewards that motivate the workforce. The presence of such a positive culture will prove extremely beneficial for any organization. It will transform employees to become an advocate of the company values and culture. Moreover, they will contribute to the development of this culture. Making employees feel valued will lead to retention, boost satisfaction levels of employees and create a fun, conducive environment to work in. Consequently, this will increase productivity. 

4. Retains the Best Employees

As per Glassdoor’s 2017 report, the organizations that aim is to deliver world-class employee experience are able to improve the calibre of their hires by 70%. 

This is no secret, that companies that are dedicated to offering employees with best cultural experiences, training, opportunities and rewards have a high retention rate. These are the most sought after things that job seekers look for in an organization. Strong company culture is a magnet attracting the best, hardworking and talented employees. 

In this regard, Larry Page, former CEO and co-founder of Google asserts, “Make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, has a meaningful impact and is contributing to the good of society.”

It is a successful practice to hire those who are a cultural fit for the organization.

5. Creates and Adds Value to Your Company

A workplace with a commendable, strong, ethical and positive organizational work culture contributes to building identity and goodwill in the market. This could serve as a major benefit for the targeted demographics by bringing about a rise in sales and brand establishment. Having a corporate culture will add value to your brand, moreover so if the employees are happily able to accept, settle and carry it forward. 

6. Brings About Team Spirit

A remarkable quality that marks the presence of good company culture is team spirit. If the employees of an organization are able to work together, produce quality work and are in perfect synchronization, it indicates that a functioning culture is in action. When company culture gives a clear cut picture, presents a definite code of conduct and allows each department to work together to achieve common objectives; all company functions are executed in the smoothest manner. 

The essence of an affable work environment is the presence of team spirit. Conducive work culture is not only increased productivity but a prevalent feeling of team spirit in all practices too. An organisational culture that has team spirit as a virtue will bind together the entire workforce.

Cultural values that allows teams to cooperate, assist each other and bring about a smoothness in the work quality will facilitate an organization to  function conveniently.

As wholesome as an organizational culture gets, it must always serve as a glue or binding agent. 

7. Promotes Employee Wellbeing by Improving Performance

A culture where the employees are given freedom, feel valued and is conducive to boost their productivity is the dream corporate culture that the workforce of today demands. An ideal organization is one which conveniently influences performance and looks after employees by thinking of their wellbeing. 

8. Improves Efficiency

A robust corporate culture is a definite set of values that is common and shared among all. Not only this, it is the sum total of what each individual is able to contribute and bring to the table. Hence, culture is also value-adding. A set of all accepted splendid practices that can greatly make a difference to the organization, is directly contributive to increase efficiency. 

A popular example of how culture can be moulded to bring efficiency is Netflix. It has a no vacation policy, where employees can take a day off when needed. By introducing policies like such, employees get the message that their needs are at the apex. Consequently, they become more dedicated towards the company. Increased workforce competence and productivity is an added advantage. 

What Shapes a Company Culture? 

There are a multitude of things that define an organizational culture. If one single thing defines and decides a culture, the entirely of the process and the wholesomeness of it is lost. Culture must be made up of a mixture of things and a variety of factors must contribute to it. 

First and foremost, it is the company values that must be poured into the cauldron when concocting culture. Values lie at the heart of the company’s culture. It is up to an individual organization to bring out which values they endorse.

Next, it is the hierarchy that decides the code of conduct, consequently giving shape to culture. It is found that companies having multiple levels of hierarchy house a formal culture and are comparatively slow-moving. 

Thirdly, the degree of urgency that is the swiftness in decision making is a contributory factor in shaping culture.

Each organisation with different levels of urgency contributes to its culture. 

Adding to all these is the type of orientation or inclination that an organization has. There is either a people-orientated approach or a task-orientated one. Mostly, the former takes place when companies treasure their workforce talents. Here, an individual employee and his needs are catered to. 

All in all, both the types of orientation programs value its employees and processes. Similarly, organisations with strong task orientation programs makes decisions as per the task. Apart from this, there is a functional orientation that lays emphasis on the various company processes and are the driving force behind company operations. 

How Can HR Practices Build Culture?

Primarily, it is the human resource management that has to formulate necessary policies that promote the organizational culture. The many HR tools and mechanisms can be optimally utilised to give shape to culture. 

An HR must analyse and soak in the core beliefs of the company and embellish them in an acceptable manner to develop culture. From the ground level to the C-suit, the HR professionals have to weave culture in such a way, so as to include each unit of the organization.  

The following are the various means and situations that the HR department can make use of, when shaping culture. 

Hire the Best Fit

As seen above, a common millennial practice is where both the company and it’s employees look for the best fit. All in all, it is the HR department that has to go in knee-deep to pick out the best from among a pool of potential employees. For this HR tools and assessment techniques come handy. 

Founder of Stella & Dot, Jessica Herrin opines that, “Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.” 

A thorough study of the company vision, goals (long term and short term) and values have to be clearly chalked out. This will provide a set standard against which the interviewers can assess. An extremely crucial task that hiring is, requires a thorough knowledge of what a potential best fit for the organization would be like. Moreover, all the hiring processes should be as per these cultural requirements. 

Apparently, it is often that companies are unable to care for themselves a clear picture of their organizational culture. This will create complications in the hiring process too. Correctly recognizing culture has to be the first and foremost thing that every HR department has to begin with. 

It is also incorrect to portray a falsely fabricated image of the prevailing work culture, to lure in employees. 

The HRM can be honest about their work culture, conduct hiring processes accordingly and find the best talent for the organization. 

Onboarding 

The onboarding, training and orientation processes aid a new recruit to get along the company, the job responsibilities and the accepted practices. Human Resource professionals must closely monitor each of these activities, as they are crucial to convey cultural norms and belief systems. The HR department has to supervise and govern the onboarding processes so that each process successfully conveys the essence of the company culture. 

Enrich Communication

Any organization will be able to feel and add value to culture only when they are able to live and believe in it. For this, culture must be promoted, accepted and imparted. It goes without saying that the HR department is responsible to promote culture-rich communications. One where company values and norms lie at the foundation.

Founder, CEO, Digital Royalty, Amy Jo Martin asserts, “If we really want to be effective with communication, we have to humanize our brands.” 

There must be a consistency in communications and should facilitate as a constant source of motivation too. Also it has to be in alignment with proper communication. 

Primarily it is the job of the HR department to see that culture is transmitted by means of proper communication. 

Gain From Feedback

Feedback is the most important tool when companies want to know the pros or cons of its policies and the effects of their application. Likewise, it becomes necessary to assess culture. It ranks as a top priority in the HR strategies. But it is the most complex task in the book. Defining and then assessing something as abstract as culture is a tough, yet a mandatory task. Firstly, it is the key elements of culture that need to be defined and each of its dimensions closely observed. Every little nuance and any intricate department that adds value to culture ought to be studied and then assessed. 

For this, the HR department has to – 

  • Build a culture assessment tool that allows the workforce to rate the operating work culture. 
  • Correctly utilize the tool and administer it. This way, the members at all levels will be able to participate and contribute to it.
  • Go knee-deep into the assessment 
  • Study the results and analyze them to draw conclusions
  • Discuss the key points and findings that result from the assessment. It will help to solve issues pertaining to organizational culture and values. 

Gina Lau, Team Operations, HelloSign says in this regards, “Our secret weapon for building the best culture is open and honest feedback.”

The part where the HR executives, in collaboration with the company and its workforce, go through the cultural glue that binds their company together, is called a cultural audit of cultural assessment. Many problems that arise due to the lack of a functioning culture, can be resolved this way. 

Conclusion

The idea is to formulate a work culture that promotes employee engagement, facilities productivity, forms a healthy ambience and broadly reflects company values and beliefs. It is the demand of the corporate world that organizations become host to a culture that improves and contributes to the growth of each employee, while actively displaying their belief system through the stellar work/services they provide. It is up to the company and the HR department on how they mould culture and infuse their foundational beliefs into daily operations. 

Nothing can become a more powerful and dynamic asset than a well-woven workplace culture.

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