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Defining company culture must be a daily activity – here’s why

Defining company culture in an organization isn’t an easy task. It can be challenging to invest energy into a topic that feels grandiose or theoretical. It’s crucially important that you do so, though; company culture plays a larger role than you might think.

What Role Does Company Culture Play At Work?

Company culture is more than just a theoretical list of values or statements. Your company is creating a culture, even if you are not actively focused on it. Culture is about:

  • The feeling an employee has when working for your organization.
  • What behavior is accepted by employees and managers at work.
  • How conflict or disagreements are handled.

Culture touches so many aspects of life at your organization. Therefore, we must take a more active approach to defining our company’s culture.

5 Reasons to Invest in Company Culture Every Day

Investing in company culture every day might feel like a massive undertaking. So, why do we need to connect on our culture, values, and vision so often? Here are some of the reasons why:

1. It’s Easy to Lose Sight Of the Company Culture You’re Trying to Build

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” Company culture is a hard concept for some people to grasp. It only becomes more challenging if you aren’t spending an adequate amount of time defining and perfecting your organization’s culture.

A recent company culture story that made headlines was about the merger of Kraft and Heinz and what it did for the company culture of both organizations. Unfortunately, as companies grow, merge, and get acquired, it’s so easy to lose sight of the company culture you’re trying to build.

In the article about Kraft Heinz, a Kraft employee talked about life pre-merger. Kraft was treating its employees well with a lot of opportunities for advancement. As Kraft was acquired, the culture it had built as an individual organization was slowly eroded.

If you are not careful, it’s easy for something similar to happen to your team.

2. Culture Consistency Builds Brand and Company Loyalty

There is a brain hack called spaced repetition that dramatically improves the way your brain stores information. It works by going over the same information in a spaced, but repetitive fashion. Most people choose an hour every day to go over flashcards if they want to make the biggest impact with this method.

As an organization, you have to spend more time than once per year going over your organization’s core values and culture. Defining company culture should be a daily activity so that employees begin to understand the culture and what appropriate behavior looks like.

Put another way, you can’t act like culture doesn’t matter 300+ days out of the year. Employees need consistency to model great workplace behavior.

As you showcase your company’s culture, employees begin to understand that it’s more than just lip service on your organization’s career site. Culture becomes tangible, and it makes employees want to improve their loyalty to your organization.

As your customers become aware of your culture, you can draw new and existing customers to your brand.

3. Understanding Company Culture Helps You Make Better Decisions

Company culture isn’t just for employees. Managers and company leaders also need to understand the culture you are trying to build. Decision-making takes up a ton of mental energy for leaders who can spend hours of their time each week making decisions. When you have a clear culture, decision-making becomes effortless.

You would be surprised at the number of employers who struggle with decision-making:

Only 20 percent of respondents say their organizations excel at decision making.

McKinsey & Company

Imagine how much better leaders would be at making decisions if they had clarity about the company’s culture, mission, vision, and values. In a world where clear decision-making is critical, we need leaders who understand our organization and can step up to the plate.

4. Culture Issues Are Easier to Fix When Detected Early

Cultural misalignment at work can cause a wide array of issues for employees. If one employee gets out of alignment, they have the ability to cause employee dissatisfaction, turnover, and a negative public image for your organization.

If you let cultural issues go undetected, you are letting employees that go against your culture connect with employees and customers.

On the other hand, maybe you are creating a toxic company culture. If you go months without addressing culture, you could be perpetuating this negative experience for a long time. Addressing culture often helps you spot these issues before they get out of hand.

5. Company Culture Defines Your Organization’s Very Existence

Company culture isn’t a pie in the sky thought experiment. It’s the makeup of your entire organization’s existence. Culture isn’t always easy to spot, but it’s being created every day.

Regular culture maintenance is a necessary part of organizational growth.

We care for our culture because we care for our people.

Daily Organizational Culture Tweaks

Now that you know why you should define company culture daily, let’s walk through a few activities to help you make this a reality.

  • Highlight employees contributing to your company’s culture every morning inside your company’s communities.
  • Check-in with employees daily to let them know you are thinking of them and see if they have any issues.
  • Play a short get-to-know-you game during every daily standup meeting you have.
  • Give your employees flexibility in how they choose to work every day.
  • Encourage everyone to take daily breaks or naps to improve focus and get off the computer for a while.

You may be struggling with the thought of defining company culture every day, but this doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by defining the culture you are trying to create at work. Then, based on that, come up with a few activities you can do daily, weekly, and monthly to keep that culture top of mind for your employees.

Defining Company Culture Should Happen All the Time

Company culture isn’t something you define once and then put on a shelf. Leaders need to find ways to connect with employees. We have to address culture daily.

Without this extra step, it’s easy for employees or leaders to go back to their old ways. If you want employees to follow your culture, you have to keep it top of mind.

Are you looking for a way to improve company culture at your organization? Read our article about how employee communities drive positive company culture. If you are ready to invest in employee communities, reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if our tool can serve your organization’s needs.

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7 strategies for building an inclusive culture in 2021

Creating an inclusive culture continues to be important, especially for employees who belong to the millennial and Gen Z generations. It’s becoming increasingly clear that inclusivity has a positive effect on an organization’s bottom line, but what strategies can organizations use to take diversity to the next level? Today, we are discussing the inclusive culture strategies your organization can use to improve in 2021 (and beyond.)

What Does It Mean to Build an Inclusive Culture?

Having an inclusive culture is about more than hiring diverse employees. Inclusivity goes beyond the mere presence of minority groups.

Inclusive cultures celebrate and empower minority workers with well-paying jobs, fair and equal promotion opportunities, and the feeling that they belong at the organization.

Culture matters. Company leaders can’t expect to retain underrepresented hires without deeply committing to their culture and how they treat diverse groups.

7 Inclusive Culture Strategies Your Company Can Utilize

Going beyond hiring diverse employees takes time and energy. It’s not an overnight success, especially for organizations with a small number of minority employees at the outset. Accordingly, here are seven strategies you can start with to improve the culture at your organization.

1. Go Beyond Black/White Thinking

First, we have to move past black and white thinking when it comes to diversity and inclusion at work. Many organizations depend too heavily on having one single diverse population represented. It’s important to go beyond black/white thinking or male/female thinking.

Hiring a lot of black employees or several women doesn’t necessarily make your organization diverse or inclusive.

Inclusivity is more than black/white. There are other ways to create an inclusive workplace for different groups of people. For instance, diversity exists across:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Educational Attainment

Consider these different dimensions of diversity as you are looking at candidates and interviewing. Keep all of your organization’s types of diversity in mind as you are planning holidays, creating social media content, and developing employee resource groups.

2. Celebrate Employee Differences

You might hire employees from diverse backgrounds, but are those employees able to be themselves? Do they spend more time assimilating than bringing their unique experiences to the table?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t feel comfortable being themselves at work. Speaker and writer Jodi-Ann Burey recently gave a fantastic TED Talk about the myth of bringing your full, authentic self to work that summarizes many of the issues diverse groups face around opening up at work.

Your employees might celebrate different holidays, wear different clothing to work, or choose to bring someone you wouldn’t expect to the company family day.

Are you able to accept and celebrate all the different ways your employees might choose to show up at work? Creating an inclusive culture allows you to celebrate and learn from your employees’ different cultural and personal beliefs.

3. Ensure Buy-In From All Directions

Typically, organizations consider buy-in from leaders and managers, but top-down buy-in won’t cut it when it comes to inclusivity.

Employees interact with a wide array of people every single day. For example, customers, colleagues, managers, and even investors might interact with your employees.

If managers are the only people who have expressed buy-in, you might open diverse employees up to many micro and macro-aggressions at work.

4. Define & Check-In on Goals, Not Quotas

For many organizations wanting to invest in inclusion, their first thought is to set quotas for the hiring process. For example, they may choose to set a quota for the number of minority candidates who turn in resumes or the number of interviews held.

Quotas without the work of actually hiring more diverse candidates are just a waste of the candidate’s time and your own. Candidates want to feel like they have a shot at joining your organization, not like a quota checkbox.

Get specific about what a diverse and inclusive organization would look like. Create SMART goals around diversifying your organization and creating an inclusive culture at work. Go beyond quota filling to create the best company culture.

5. Focus on Creating Training Moments Year-Round

Are you spending your time creating one diversity and inclusion training per year? While this is a great gesture and start to improving D&I at your organization, it’s easy for your initiatives to get swept under the rug if you are only addressing the situation once per year.

Instead, you can create smaller monthly or quarterly trainings for employees to keep your diversity work top of mind. Consider hosting town halls about diversity at work, sharing details about diverse holidays, and celebrating heritage/recognition months as they come up.

Connecting with employees about diversity topics throughout the year will make everyone more educated on related topics.

6. Learn From Other Organizations Who Value Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)

One of the best parts about HR work is that you can learn from others. Other human resources professionals are dealing with (or have dealt with) all the issues you are currently facing at work. You can lean on other HR professionals to learn from their mistakes and successes.

By connecting with others, you can implement their strategies to create a more inclusive culture at your organization.

One way you can do this is by joining a network like the Global ERG Network. This cross-company community is a fantastic opportunity for employee ERG leaders to access best practice templates and toolkits, monthly learning events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers.

7. Think About the Outward Work

Many organizations start claiming their inclusion success too early, but never claiming it at all isn’t the answer either.

Potential candidates need to see the work that you are doing to improve diversity and inclusion at your organization.

Here are some ways to do inclusion work outwardly:

  • Plan social media campaigns about diverse holidays.
  • Spotlight diverse employees in brochures and company publications.
  • Feature diverse faces in your company’s marketing material.
  • Donate to and partner with diverse organizations.
  • Publicly support causes and political legislation that uplift diverse groups.

Creating an Inclusive Culture Takes Time

You won’t be able to transform your culture overnight. There are no quick fixes when it comes to inclusivity. By following these steps, you will slowly win over your organization and make inclusivity the standard.

If you are looking to create a more inclusive culture through employee networks, we’re the perfect partner. Email us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re the right fit for your organization.

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5 ways to help your office culture rebound after the pandemic

Employees have gone through a lot in the last year. As companies begin to get back into the office, you might have a culture problem. Transitions back to life as usual can’t happen overnight. We must give our employees ample time to get used to the commute, water cooler conversation, and dressing up for the office again. If your employees are struggling with office life, there are several things you can do to improve your office culture. 

What Impact Did The Pandemic Have on Office Culture?

So, what impact did the pandemic have on office culture?

When we think about traditional workplace culture, a lot of our memories start with the office. From general water cooler conversations to lunch with our colleagues, we spent a lot of time in the office pre-pandemic.

In early 2020, many companies shifted their work completely. Companies pivoted to working from home, and more silos formed as we went to virtual communication like Slack and Zoom meetings.

Companies had to learn to restructure communication and benefits that were tied to the office (e.g. free lunches.) The pandemic truly changed the way that we worked. Some companies plan to stay remote forever.

With all the rapid changes we had to make, it’s no wonder the pandemic impacted office culture.

5 Ways to Help Your Office Culture Rebound After the Pandemic

It’s easy to understand why the pandemic has changed office culture in the last year. Knowing this, how do we deal with the fallout of the pandemic when it comes to office culture? Well, you can start with these five activities:

Set Proper Expectations About Office Culture as Employees Return to Work

Before anyone steps foot back in the office, you have to start by setting proper expectations about what office life will look like as employees return to work.

Set expectations about:

  • Mask guidelines
  • Social distancing protocols
  • Cleaning frequency
  • Testing
  • Office gatherings and events

Write all of these policies down and put them in a place where every employee can see them. As employees go back to the office, ask them to acknowledge your office guidelines before returning to work.

Ease Back Into Office Life

Many employees have been working from home for more than a year. Getting back into the grind of daily office life isn’t going to be easy for people.

In fact, some people are choosing to quit their job instead of going back to work. The thought of a mass exodus of employees is pretty scary, especially because filling empty positions is so difficult right now.

Don’t ask employees to flip the switch automatically. Come up with a plan that slowly gets people back in the office.

For example, you might choose to create a hybrid work plan where employees can choose to come in the number of days they want. Many employers have even decided to utilize a desk sharing model where employees reserve a desk if they are in the office.

We have to understand how badly we need employees in a physical office. Is it worth the commute and upset employees to require their physical presence? Or is there another option where we give employees the ability to work from an office if it works for them (e.g. downsizing the office or using coworking spaces)?

Consider Ways to Bring Back Pre-Pandemic Traditions Safely

What did the office look like pre-pandemic? Did you offer free lunch or workout Wednesdays? For many employees, the best part of office life was the perks they got for being there.

Are you bringing employees back to the office without thinking about the benefits of returning? If so, it’s time to plan this part of office life.

To make things safer, you’ll likely need to change some aspects of those pre-pandemic traditions. For example, lunches might need to be individually packaged, and workout Wednesdays will need to be socially distanced.

Going back to the office after the pandemic doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch on office traditions. Ease back into holding these traditions regularly to rebound office culture quickly.

Set Up Employees With Weekly Office Buddies

If your company is like most with turnover and hiring new employees, it’s likely that many team members haven’t had the chance to get to know one another.

If you are looking for a way to rebound office culture, start small by assigning weekly office buddies. Encourage office buddies to connect over a meal or a joint project one day during the week. You can even set weekly ice breakers to get the conversation flowing.

Here are some ice breaker questions to get you started:

  • What was the last thing that made you smile/laugh/feel excited?
  • Where do you want to be in life or your career five years from now?
  • What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? How did you get started with that hobby?
  • What’s the next destination on your travel bucket list? Why do you want to go there?
  • If you could change one thing about your favorite book/movie/television show, what would it be and why?
  • What is your favorite place in the city? How did you find out about the place?
  • If you could create a super job featuring all of your favorite work activities, what would that job be?

Ask For and Utilize Employee Feedback

Last but not least, one of the best ways to rebound office culture is to talk to your staff and get their opinion. Gathering and utilizing employee feedback is one of the best ways to understand what your team needs from you.

Create a confidential survey using a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Ask all your burning office culture questions and request that employees fill out the survey.

After receiving all your responses, synthesize the information for employees and tell them what you will do about it. Employees can get tired of surveys quickly, especially if they don’t feel that managers are hearing them. Ensure that you close the feedback loop and make any necessary adjustments.

Conclusion

Getting back into the office is going to be challenging for even the most seasoned employees. As an organization leader, it’s your duty to guide employees to speak up for what they need and advocate for your organization at the same time. It’s a tricky balancing act, but it can be done when you make sure to keep active listening top of mind.

If you are looking for more information on hybrid workforces, check out our free hybrid workforce engagement guide. Reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if building employee communities with Workrowd is the best way to engage your employees in and out of the office.

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The purpose of employee resource groups in the workplace

Employee resource groups or ERGs play a massive role in the company culture of many medium- to large-sized organizations. Over the last year, several large companies like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Justworks have decided to pay ERG leaders additional salaries. You may be wondering about the purpose of employee resource groups, so we’re here today to share why these company groups are so vital.

What Is an Employee Resource Group?

An employee resource group (also called an employee affinity group) is a collection of employees who support and learn from each other. These groups form for different minority groups to come together and connect about workplace issues.

You may see ERGs form to support women, people of color, people with disabilities, working parents, LGBTQIA employees, and so much more. As your company grows, your ERGs can become more diverse and helpful to your employees.

What Is the Purpose of Employee Resource Groups?

ERGs provide so much to the modern workplace. Let’s go through a list of how these groups contribute to companies across the world.

ERGs Provide a Sense of Community for Employees

As your team grows, it can become difficult for new employees to feel connected to your organization.

Did you know that 40% of workers say they feel isolated at work? In companies without ERGs, boosting this number can fall squarely on HR and people managers. 

Companies with ERGs can use these groups as resources. HR leaders can help connect employees who feel disconnected by encouraging them to join ERGs that fit their needs.

In the end, you could reap some amazing belongingness benefits, like a 167% increase in your employee Net Promoter Score.

ERGs Encourage Cross-Departmental Relationship Building

When you are building a large company, silos between departments are bound to form. Marketing will hang out with marketing, sales with sales, and so on down the line. It’s much easier to make friends with someone who understands what you do and speaks the same language. Departmental silos aren’t great for organizations that need each department to communicate seamlessly to get work done.

Employee resource groups are department neutral. It’s all about bringing people together, no matter their background. So, for example, your marketing personnel will end up with friends across the company.

The next time you have a huge project that requires employees from different departments, members of your ERGs will be excited to team up with work friends they probably don’t get to see daily.

ERGs Help Your Employees Feel Heard and Valued

Employee resource groups are a fantastic source of information. Your employees might feel small or lost in the crowd. ERGs create smaller sections of your company where more voices can be heard.

You can:

  • Survey your ERGs for suggestions
  • Hold town halls
  • Have productive meetings with ERG leaders on changes you can make to improve their experience

If you engage your ERGs and show them you value their opinions, you can get a lot done while showing employees across the company how much you appreciate them. You won’t have time to do this on a one-to-one basis, so employee affinity groups help you do this efficiently.

ERGs Can Help You and Your Team Solve Problems Quickly

Once employees feel united and confident in what they need at work, they can help you solve ERG-related issues more quickly.

For example, maybe the parents in your organization feel like they constantly have to choose between going home to be with their families and advancing their careers due to the number of after-work activities your company runs.

In a world without ERGs, parents might have silently thought about this or even shared it with a work friend. Silos of working parents at your organization might have discussed this issue, but they wouldn’t have done anything significant with the information.

This lack of organization might have led some of your best employees to seek work at other companies or stew in their resentment about their lack of career advancement.

The scenario we shared is not unimaginable. According to Pew Research, 27% of working parents shared that being a mother or father stopped them from advancing in their careers.

So, what happens with an employee resource group? Working parents would be able to come together and share their thoughts about how being a parent has affected their job. At the very least, they would feel less alone. Plus, they may even be able to come to HR and suggest changing some of the policies for after-work activities.

Employee affinity groups give your employees more power. Some organization leaders may fear this ability to connect and organize. Innovative organizations realize that ERGs give you the opportunity to fix workplace issues before they spiral into resentment or turnover. Giving up a bit of power is priceless when you recognize the effect these groups can have on retention and engagement.

ERGs Help You Hold Events That Bring Your Company Together

Workplace events can be challenging to plan, especially if you put all of the events on your company’s HR leader or event planner. Employee resource groups can help you plan events to celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and PRIDE Month

If you want to plan educational and fun events for these months or holidays anyway, why not give the budget to ERGs to help you plan and create these events? It’s the perfect way to let ERG members know that you value them and their experiences at your company.

There Is a Significant Purpose Behind Employee Resource Groups

There is a reason that organizations like LinkedIn are finding value in employee resource groups. These groups can drive employee engagement and provide a sense of belonging that many companies are missing.

As your organization grows its employee database, think about ways that you can bring your employees together and help build diversity and inclusion within your company.

Are you looking to leverage the power of employee resource groups at your organization? Look no further than Workrowd. If you want to empower ERG leaders with shared learning, you can check out the Global ERG Network. Connect with us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re right for your organization.