Tips to help create a positive corporate culture

For years the subject of corporate culture was ignored, or at least downplayed, by management and experts alike. However, in recent years most observers acknowledge that corporate culture (or organizational behaviour) exists and, in some cases, plays an important role in the workplace.

Here are some suggestions to help you take control of your corporate environment and create a culture that attracts and retains good employees.

• While it’s true that excellent benefits are expensive, just consider the true cost of consistent staff turnover. Constant employee turnover may be the most expensive operating cost of all. Great benefits will encourage all employees to give serious thought before leaving your company since these may be harder to find in the marketplace.

• Give employees the opportunity to influence company decisions. While the perception of influence equals the reality, many companies have found that involving employees in operations and/or strategy decisions has generated some excellent suggestions. Occupying the operational front lines of implementing strategy, non-management employees often have a different and often effective outlook on company procedures.

• Share financial results with employees. Often called an “open-book” policy, many companies have generated newfound respect and loyalty from staff by keeping them up-to-date and on the same page with management.

• Publicly recognize employee performance, milestones, birthdays, etc. Don’t wait for major accomplishments to celebrate. Acknowledge all milestones, big and small. Your staff will not only appreciate these gestures personally, but they will tell their friends and potential future employees, too.

• Take an obvious interest in your stars. By making it clear you’re interested in your best employees’ thoughts, ideas and comments, you accomplish two motivational goals. First, you display that you appreciate and respect high performers, which typically creates more high-level results. Second, you tastefully indicate that other staff will receive the same personal interest from management if their performance reaches a high level.

• Offer varied opportunities for staff to get education, skill development and additional expertise. Implement liberal programs for continuing education, be it for formal degree programs, industry schools, seminars or any other teaching/training experience. Make these opportunities very public and supportive.

• Carefully strive for “meaningful depth” during candidate interviews. Consider conducting real behavioural interviews versus classic “What did you do? Where did you do it? When did you do it?” interviews. Try hard to find employees who “fit” your corporate culture to generate strong (and happy) team players.

• Install non-financial benefit items that improve corporate culture. Personal days, caring for a sick family member days, employee-of-the-week (month, quarter and year) awards, etc. are proven ways to generate a positive effect on corporate culture and employee loyalty.

• Always stay in “listening mode.” You may be pleasantly surprised at what your employees have to say if you convince them, through words and actions, that you’ll listen. Instead of having to repeatedly ask for feedback, your listening posture will elicit staff comments that you might find important and valuable.

Implementing these items (or combinations thereof) will help you create a positive corporate culture that should have lasting effects on your success in attracting and keeping the employees you want. Creating an environment that fulfils the objective and subjective needs of employees often creates (or changes) organizational behaviour that leads to improved performance and a more loyal staff. These actions can often be far more effective than the easy (and costly) method of simply increasing compensation.

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