One Stat, One Real Story & One Very Personal Fact
According to the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM), nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars has been lost in the past five years due to regretful turnover caused by unfit workplace culture!
Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental. — Simon Sinek, Author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant.
I worked for more than 9 years with corporate giants in India with a behemoth employee strength of 100K+ employees. With multiple hierarchical levels, defined roles, set processes it’s not hard to imagine how the culture would have been. However, the itch got me and I bit the bullet by taking a plunge with a growing startup and midsize companies. I found a drastic change in behaviour and approach. My stint in the Philippines with a mid size company taught me how to achieve geographical revenue growth by capitalizing on the skills of my team. I was not just managing the business’ vertical, but I had to keep a watch on the overall health of our business unit in the Philippines. It helped broaden my thought horizon and provided me with a more strategic approach to reviewing business goals. After my work in the Philippines, I moved to the U.S. with a startup company. Culture at startup is like an athlete preparing for the Olympics. Everyone is hungry to win and make their country proud. Working at start-up requires you to have self-motivation and constant sources of inspiration, while preparing yourself for a new battle everyday. Small wins bring big smiles and big losses make you stronger. So that’s Startup culture for me! It is where you live everyday for 8 or more hours, dedicating your skills and time to a common goal.
Millennials in the Workforce
Now let’s look at the largest percentage of our modern workforce – Millennials. There are 53.5 million Millennials in the workforce today, making up a third of all the workers. In the next year, they will make up half of the workforce.
Millennials are rejecting traditional roles in corporate environments for a fresh and alternative work life, and corporations are beginning to take notice of this. They are taking a page out of the ‘ol startup book by adopting new practices like casual Fridays and open plan seating to attract & retain talent.
However, the culture of startups or corporate companies is more than just Friday bars, free coffee and a place for friendships to blossom. It’s about the commitment of the team and the personal effort put into the work. While startups encourage an energetic culture that attracts talent with flashy perks and modern workspaces, they still mean serious business. However, at a startup the core values that enable long-established companies to thrive are sometimes lost.
Overall, everyone deserves to enjoy their work and in the start-up era, companies should incorporate ‘culture’ into their mission, vision and values. Culture is the very foundation of every solid business. It reflects what you stand for, what you value and what you aspire to achieve. It defines your company’s personality and shapes how you behave, work and communicate.
Great Culture Improves Attitude & Productivity
A great culture makes a company unique. Not only does it help recruit the best people & retain employees, it actually works wonders to motivate them. It makes your employees work efficiently and with a more positive attitude.
Building and maintaining a healthy culture is no easy feat, but the results are well worth it. Two indispensable reasons to do so are:
- Culture makes employees feel like a part of the team.
- Culture gives employees a reason to truly enjoy their work, thereby directly driving productivity improvements.
Align Company Culture with Strategy
There are three elements to a culture: behaviours, systems, and practices. They are all guided by an overarching set of values. A great culture is what you have when all three of these are aligned with the organization’s espoused values. A common culture-building practice is the creation of value statements but the real test is how the leaders behave. If leaders are not exhibiting the behaviours that reflect the values, the values become meaningless.
If you have employees then you will have a culture whether you choose to define it consciously or let it be formed organically. The pitfalls of the latter approach are not hard to imagine. Founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh emphasizes how important it is to bring the correct values to your company from day one when the company is still small. It is important to establish a culture that motivates, inspires, and drives success.
Live, Communicate and Focus
The real test is how leaders behave; how they enact these values, or don’t. People watch everything leaders do. If leaders are not exhibiting the behaviors that reflect the values, they become meaningless.
Employees also need clarity, but clarity of a different kind. Every employee I have managed or worked with would give up their so-called perks for one thing: clear expectations. Given your organizational values, which behaviors consistently get rewarded? Appreciated? Which behaviors lead to promotion?
Employees who believe in your company direction invest more of themselves because they know it will make a difference.
Ensure Culture Keeps Pace with Strategic Shifts
Practices need to change as the company changes — as it grows, reorganizes, or faces new threats. Once-useful practices can quickly become stale, meaningless, or even counter-productive if they are not freshened up. If the original intent of an off-site retreat was to help teams bond, what needs to shift now that the company has tripled in size?
As your company’s mission evolves, you may need a new set of values that guide the way you do every activity in your organization. These values will not only support the mission, but will also become the seed that will drive your organization’s culture.
Culture should be a major component of your growth strategies. As you grow and shift, make sure you revisit your company’s mission, core values, and strategic plan. Once you determine any necessary updates, make sure your employees have clear roles and responsibilities as well as appropriate goals.
Culture takes time to define; It takes work to execute. Yet, if the time is spent (1) really understanding the behaviours expected throughout the organization, (2) identifying the systems and processes that will continue to help those behaviours be expressed and sustained, and (3) shaping practices that help employees and the organization become better, then you can close your culture gaps, and stop your best people from saying, “I know it’s a great culture, but I am leaving.”
WIN WITH CULTURE