Driving an intentional culture year-round
One thing most Top Workplaces have in common is a clear commitment to supporting and sustaining workplace culture year-round. These companies don’t just check off the engagement box once a year. They make continuous culture improvement a daily priority.
Leaders at these successful organizations work to know what drives their culture, listen to what their employees are telling them, take action to improve, promote their strengths — and then they start again.
Four phases of continuous culture improvement
Building an intentional culture requires more than an annual survey snapshot. To truly move the needle on culture, we suggest these four steps:
1. Measure and benchmark your culture
To get an accurate picture of your current culture, survey the people who know your organization best — your employees. With so many survey providers claiming they have the right measurement tools, how do you find one that’s accurate, research-proven, and actionable?
Here’s what to look for:
- Start to finish, the process is quick, and the statements are scientifically sound.
- Employee responses remain anonymous to encourage open, honest feedback.
- Data visualization clearly and accurately identify your culture strengths and focus areas.
- Comparative analytics that goes beyond simple industry benchmarks.
2. Use feedback to listen and connect with employees
A survey is a great start, but it’s taking action that matters. Once you know what drives your culture, you’re ready to dive deeper to understand the root issues. First, listen to your employees — explore their responses and offer opportunities to expand on their feedback. Second, use your strategy to connect while ensuring alignment.
The right strategy will involve:
- Thanking employees and creating a custom follow-up for more input.
- Making sure every manager and team lead gets results for their team.
- Sharing local results with every employee to inspire further insight.
- Connecting successful teams and managers to people who can learn from them.
- Using survey results to help consider culture in every leadership conversation.
3. Take action to engage and grow
You have your data and you know the thought that went into it. Now, it’s time to act — or even more effectively — let employees act. It’s their feedback that started this journey, so empower them to move everyone forward.
This is the fun part, really. Employees get to solve their own problems, stretch their skills, and unleash their potential. They’ll be glad for the opportunity to improve the organization. You’ll see better results — and more engaged employees!
To improve your culture and performance, make sure to:
- Start all action at the front line, only escalating topics that can’t be handled at that level.
- Seek and empower passionate employees, no matter their role.
- Make it easy to visibly track action and celebrate success.
- Keep doing what works, but make a plan to re-evaluate later.
- Enforce win-win solutions across the company; anything that isn’t working for one group soon won’t work for others.
4. Celebrate the good and showcase your culture strengths
Once you know where your culture stands, you’ve identified focus areas, and you’ve acted using this intelligence, it’s time to celebrate the good and showcase what makes your organization unique. Why do this? It will help differentiate your organization. As a result, you’ll stand out from the competition and attract the right talent.
To highlight your culture strengths:
- Compete for recognition as a Top Workplace or employer of choice.
- Celebrate culture “wins” with your employees to build pride and motivation for even better connection.
- Highlight specific culture strengths identified by your survey and verified by a third party.
To sum things up, building an intentional culture requires more than an annual survey. It necessitates organizations to commit to discovering their full culture potential. But most importantly, they sustain, support, and celebrate that culture every single day.
Nominate your company as a New York City Top Workplace at amny.com/nominate. Laura Brinton is content marketing director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,500 organizations in 2019. Energage is the research partner for Top Workplaces.