Mission statements, company visions, organisational narratives… We’ve seen and heard them all before: grand-sounding claims that are meant to sum up what a company is ‘all about’. Drafting them is the easy part; it’s when it comes to putting them into practice that the real challenge starts.
With research showing that companies with a strong company culture can achieve a 20-30% improvement in performance compared to ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors, it seems there’s much more at stake than creating a feel good factor within your office just for the sake of it. So if you’re looking to boost productivity, inspire innovation and attract and retain top talent, here are five ideas to give you some inspiration…
Monthly job swap day
Your mission statement speaks of an entire organisation “working together to a common aim… to exceed customer expectations…” – or words to that effect. But how much of this is true? Do employees actually understand what’s going on in other departments and/or how they fit into the business as a whole? Is customer service at a loss to understand why the tech guys sometimes struggle to fulfil the promises made over the phone?
A job swap or job shadow day can help show employees the bigger picture. It might even throw up some pleasant surprises: is that under-the-radar employee currently languishing in stock control your next stellar sales exec, for instance?
Free access to a Kindle library
In your recruitment material, you refer to your company enabling employees to “reach their full potential” with a strong emphasis on self-improvement and upskilling. Yet revenue constraints mean you won’t be sponsoring any Master’s degree courses any time soon. What tangible and attractive offering can you make to show that you take this objective seriously?
Why not set up a free Kindle account accessible to all staff? From HTML for Dummies to Harry Potter: allow them free rein to explore their interests. It’s a relatively inexpensive selling point for new recruits and a direct and accessible way to foster self-development.
Let the staff tell the story…
You want clients, strategic partners and new starters to get a feel for your business: where it comes from, where it’s going, what it does day-to-day and what it’s like to be involved with. Before you hire a PR firm to draw up a glossy brochure jam-packed with corporate-speak, consider something different: get your team to write it. It could go a long way in helping you define and develop your company’s unique personality. The very fact that you’ve got your employees involved in this way also demonstrates how highly you value their opinion.
Ban internal email
This measure may sound over-the-top – but the fact is that your staff are probably using email (and anything text-based) all wrong when it comes to internal communications. You pride yourself on efficient team working, on cross-departmental communication and “outside the box problem solving” – yet dealing with issues via email can often be anathema to this.
Research from the University of Glasgow and Modeuro Consulting suggests that as much of 80% of email traffic is waste; either surplus to requirements or else trying to deal with matters that are more effectively handled via telephone or face-to-face. If you are serious about fostering open and effective communication as part of your company culture, make it clear to your staff that getting heads together is the smarter alternative to juggling unwieldy email threads.
Get everyone involved for interviews
More than anything else, it tends to be your team members who determine how a company culture evolves: how well they ‘gel’ and complement each other’s skills. When recruiting, it’s useful to get multiple people involved in the process – both when drawing up a brief for who and what you’re looking for and for making decisions on the merits of individual applicants. Getting the input of front-line staff also helps to demonstrate that you regard them as stakeholders, not just employees.
The idea of having a big panel of staff sit in on every interview may seem far-fetched, until you tune into the possible benefits of video interviewing (at least, for the initial sift). The fact that such interviews are recordable gives you the opportunity to invite your wider team to offer their thoughts on candidates without those staff having to be in the same room.
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