Now more than ever, culture is the foundation of the workplace environment. Many millennial and generation Z individuals entering the workforce are more concerned about the culture over pay. But what does the culture of an organization really mean? Some would say it is just a buzz word – a statement on a website with inconsistent follow through. However, many successful companies intentionally create a culture that embodies their employee’s needs, which ultimately translates to quality service provided to clients and profitability to the bottom line.
While culture provides the feel of the workplace, the key to a positive atmosphere is finding ways to provide employees with an internal outlet while at work. And although not an easy task, companies need to create a workplace environment that is favorable to all employees, whether it be an entirely remote workforce, wide variation of ages, diverse cultural backgrounds, or multiple locations. As the Director of Employee Engagement, my role is to seek out the needs of employees and assist in creating an environment that allows for maximum productivity, creativity, and belonging. Let’s look at some of the categories in which your company can focus on and work towards improving workplace culture.
Implementation of Core Values
Defining core values is the first step and is most effective when information is gathered from the employees. However, it is the implementation of those core values that matters most. Frequently, you will see companies slapping core values on a plaque or wall and expect the culture to be centered around them on their own. Instead, core values should be included in every decision-making opportunity. From hiring and onboarding, to performance reviews and terminations, your core values should be at the center of everything you do. Check out our core values and how we implement them into our culture The Accel Way!
According to a survey performed by Survey Monkey and Bonusly, 1,500 employees were asked about their impression of recognition within their company, and the results were telling.
- 82% associated being happier at work when recognized
- 68% think public recognition has at least some impact on their ability to get a raise
- 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job
- 32% believe it improves the way their colleagues interact with them
Not surprisingly, when employees feel valued and appreciated, retention is much higher. This ultimately saves the business significant amounts of money in increased productivity and reduced turnover. Here are some other ways to help you learn the power of recognition in the workplace.
At Accel, we recently implemented employee ‘shout outs’ using our Paylocity Impressions tool. This has allowed employees to recognize each other for representing our core values each and every day. This simple and easy tool has increased morale and enhanced the culture across multiple locations in a short amount of time.
Impactful Employee Onboarding
Think back to your first week of a new job and reflect on your experience. Was it memorable? Did you go in feeling with certainty that you made the right decision, or was it short-lived, feeling like ‘just another job?’ These are important questions to reflect upon as you start a new position. At The Accel Group, we became intentional about improving our onboarding efforts, while also incorporating our core values, team culture, and retention strategies from the start. ‘Do the work early’ is a favorite quote of mine, as it helps alleviate many future obstacles if you begin with integrity, character, and sound planning. Every company will approach this differently, and there are many ways to enhance your onboarding experience. Here are some simple ideas:
- Stipend for new employees to purchase company apparel prior to their first day
- Welcome greetings on TV’s or bulletin boards that introduce new employees to the rest of your staff
- A short ‘about you’ sent to all staff that is used to get to know new employees on a more personal level (we call these player profiles to match our team culture)
- Welcome gifts on new employee desks filled with personal items specific to their likes and interests
- Office tours and staff introductions and/or virtual tours of multiple locations
- Introductory meetings with team leads to better understand the organization and how each team contributes to the success of the organization
- One-on-one meeting with the president to learn about the core values and team culture
- Overview of the employee handbook, employee perks, company benefits, and office culture
- Organized schedule of mentoring and training opportunities throughout the first few weeks
- Follow up check-ins with new employees, including a 90-day survey of the onboarding experience
Testimonial from a recent Accel hire regarding her onboarding experience:
“What an amazing first day at The Accel Group!!!!!! I know that you played a significant role in planning my first day. Thank you for such a great and warm welcome. The gifts were like the whipped cream and cherry on top. You nailed it right on the head. I was so overwhelmed how each item in the boxes were fitted perfectly for me.”
This is an area of continued evolvement, especially with virtual meetings and remote employees at an all-time high due to COVID-19. Creativity is needed here, but is best achieved when collaboration and engagement from multiple members of the team are present. Perhaps developing a culture committee that includes team members from a variety of departments can assist in this process. Or designating someone to help team leads and supervisors develop more engaging and interactive meetings that still achieve the desired outcomes. Some examples include icebreaker activities to lighten the mood, breakout sessions (in person or via Zoom) to help facilitate smaller discussions, surveys, polls, Kahoot games, or other live streaming options for immediate feedback, and a facilitator to keep the group focused on action items. Virtual happy hours are also popular to provide unique opportunities for increased collaboration and engagement of your staff!
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are other important factors in creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture. But the key to implementing DEI in a business setting is to first understand the why. Once leaders understand that increasing and celebrating diversity in the workplace can actually create a healthy work atmosphere and improve profitability, building the business case surrounding these efforts becomes much clearer.
The next step involves developing a strategic plan. A strategic plan helps identify areas of improvement that are needed and holds an organization accountable. This includes intentional hiring and recruiting efforts, commitment to a workplace of acceptance and belonging, dedication to diversity and inclusion networks, and a pledge to keep diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of all decisions that will impact the future of the organization. Simply checking a box for short-term gains will be noticed by employees, clients, and prospects, which will result in negative long-term effects for the business.
It’s important for DEI efforts to be understood and led from the top down, but it’s also just as important to have staff involvement in the entire process. And establishing employee resource groups that represent diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential. Our communities, schools, businesses, and homes are diverse, and they continue to become even more diverse every day. Having proper representation is key to your long-term success.
“Either you’re an agent of change, or you’re destined to become a victim of change. You simply can’t survive over the long term if you insist on standing still.”-Norm Brodsky, Entrepreneur
Check out these additional resources to help with your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives:
Overall, the most important concept to understand when developing a positive workplace culture is that relationships are the core of success.
-La Toshia Burrell, Director of Employee Engagement, The Accel Group