Improving Company Culture Means Improving Employee Experience
What types of company culture initiatives, practices, and attitudes strongly resonate with employees today? Why?
By Ally Bunin, Senior Vice President, Employee Practice
I sum up culture as how it feels to work at a company. It’s everything from mission, vision, values, attitudes, performance expectations, and communications style to “how things get done around here.”
Most employees don’t know how to describe the culture but can easily tell someone how it feels to work at their company.
Combine the ways of working—meaning, how employees are expected to get things done and the behaviors in which those actions are either rewarded or rejected—with technology, workspace design, benefits, well-being, and other employee programs, and you get something much deeper and more tangible—employee experience.
To me, the experience employees have working at a company can be influenced even more so than culture. Here are three key areas of employee experience we should be focusing on:
Integrated technology Ever try to log into your company’s non-mobile responsive Outlook email or Sharepoint Intranet from your mobile device to retrieve an important document, only to be told by IT that you simply can’t get what you need? How did that feel? Relative to technology, employees want single sign-on portals that work cohesively, so they can access email, benefits, company information, pay statements, and communications all in one place, and preferably on-the-go. That’s a tall order. Internal technology makes up a huge piece of the employee experience and yet is often last on a company’s to-do list.
Takeaway: Consider a mobile-responsive intranet, a mobile app for “anytime, anywhere” push communications, and most importantly, integrated technology for getting work done efficiently.
On brand communications The lines between internal communications and brand are blurred. Ask yourself: Does the content and tone of voice match the brand? Companies have a lot to say to employees and often the internal message doesn’t align with the external brand message. Corporate communicators can spend days crafting messages that end up in junk mail because they’re often riddled with jargon, lack human interest, and are distributed to fulfill the company’s need to check a box rather than engage employees in what matters most to them.
Takeaway: Communicate with others as you would want to be communicated with, and stay on brand. Find ways to humanize your internal communications and serve up content in the same ways you want to receive it in your personal life (hint: bite-sized, visual, and interesting).
Recognition & Rewards Data shows that companies that sincerely recognize and reward talent have higher sales, higher revenues, and lower turnover. The companies that get this right seem to also get customer experience right. That’s no coincidence. Employees who understand the expected behaviors that deliver on the brand, and who are recognized and rewarded for those contributions, will always do more than what’s expected. This is industry agnostic and a key driver of employee engagement and customer experience.
Takeaway: Recognition & rewards should be top of the list as a quantifiable area to impact. Make sure it’s tied to brand behaviors and performance expectations or else it will fall flat.
Culture “programs” miss the boat in terms of effecting real change or long-term momentum— partly because culture change is a huge undertaking that lacks tangible takeaways. Companies who want to impact the culture should advocate that leaders walk in the employees’ shoes to see how it feels to work there—and discover first-hand what the employee experience is lacking. That’s when real change will happen. Imagine if the CEO experienced the same technology as front-line employees day in and out. Exactly.
But first, let’s clarify: anyone who manages another person is a leader. Every leader should be a “culture leader” and an employee experience advocate. Whether leaders understand that advancing the employee experience is part of their responsibility is another thing entirely.
Bottom line: when companies improve “how it feels to work here” for employees while delivering on their promise to customers, the culture—and everything around it—will thrive.
About MSL's Employee Practice: With a team of dedicated employee engagement and internal communications thought leaders, the practice is focused on helping companies maximize impact from their employees - spanning the entire workforce relationship from employer branding and recruitment to brand communications and behaviors that shape culture inside all industries.
This article originally appeared in the Bonfyre Company Culture Matters e-book, available here: https://bonfyreapp.com/a/why-culture-matters-insights-from-17-experts