4 Reality Checks for Work Culture
Employers last year spend a lot of money on responding to the buzz of work culture. Employee culture, engagement, systems that promise to tell you when someone is going to quit because of their happiness score, work environment, and cool digs to make their working environment look on trend. Goodness, could we possibly put any more lipstick on this pig? Culture is the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups. If work culture was really all about the pretty things around us and talking about feelings why is it that some of the most successful companies are in broken down offices with their heads down chasing the goal. I can honestly say that in 25 years, I have never had one employee quit because their carpet wasn’t the right color or that their boss didn’t ask how they felt. If you’re an employer, I am asking you for the Talent’s sake focus on these elements of culture and you may be surprised what kind of business results you get.
- Leadership – If your leadership team isn’t in sync with each other, trusting each other or out to get one another, just imagine what your employees are doing. Your customs and acceptable behavior start at the top and must be reinforced. The employees quit because their leadership is on shaky ground. When it comes to telling potential candidates about your company the very first thing you should have on your website is your leadership team. Oddly enough only 3 of 10 company sites really tell the public who they are and what they stand for.
- Uncontrolled Chaos – When employers don’t have a clear map of where they want to go in 3, 6, 9 months or heck even the next week, employees feel stagnate. Some employees are ok with going through the motions and getting a check. Your top performers are not. When there is a conflict in order, values, and work employees will quit.
- Success – No one wants to be on a losing team. For executives and board members, that means financial performance. For employees that just means that they were able to do something that they were good at and at the end of their day, they have pride and sense of accomplishment. They can’t know that or have that if you don’t define what it is that you want them to do. Employees will quit because they don’t have milestones and measures of success.
- Self-Expression – employees don’t want to be your work brand, they want to identify with your work brand. Stop trying so hard to get assimilation and think of work culture as a cult. If you don’t know what I mean, reference Maslow's Hierarchy. Employees do not want to read your novel on employee policies. They don’t want you to tell them they need to conform to your idea of what looks right. They don’t want their personal lives to be part of their work lives. They want to be who they are. That means that your leadership and human resource team need to be clear about the lines you want to have. Realize that no matter your organization or industry, you are in the people business. And, the norms you accept, reject, and nurture is your culture. You cannot be surprised when employees quit over leadership hypocrisy that conflicts with what they were sold as the employer brand.
These four tips don’t require a software system, artificial intelligence, psychological games, or fancy office settings. They do require thought and planning and awareness. The culture of your company doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because you created it. When you are a business owner, CEO, or a board member, the responsibility lies on your shoulders to set the expectation and monitor what’s happening every now and then with your leadership.
Your employer work culture can’t be bought - it's built.