There’s no doubt that company culture is vital to recruitment, retention, engagement and business success. In fact, culture and values rank at the top of the list of workplace factors that matter to employees – above salary, work-life balance, senior leadership, career opportunities and business outlook. But things get murky when it comes to determining who is responsible for “owning” company culture.
Panelists at the recent Glassdoor 2017 Best Places to Work Roadshow in Chicago shared their thoughts on how it takes a true partnership across HR, communications and leadership to drive and preserve company culture.
Leading by example
If a company wants to be known for its transparency, it’s essential that its executives lead by example. Facebook’s Matty de Castro, U.S. head of industry, consumer packaged goods and retail, shared how a weekly question-and-answer session with high-profile CEO Mark Zuckerberg has helped the company maintain its culture despite exponential growth. It’s one thing to talk – and even walk – the talk, but because Zuckerberg encourages employees to ask difficult questions during their Q&A sessions, he’s influencing employees directly and inspiring a truly transparent culture. Beyond this face time with Zuckerberg, de Castro noted his personal commitment to insisting that the people he manages take a two-week vacation every year, helping to avoid burnout among a group that consistently brings their all to the workplace.
Recruiting culture-add hires and keeping them
From content on a company’s online careers page to a new hire’s first day (and beyond), HR can preserve valued culture pillars and influence where culture may need to be adjusted. Greenhouse’s Maia Josebachvili, vice president of strategy, marketing and people, recommended using culture-centric interview questions to ensure company culture is considered when making hiring decisions. She recommended adding, “Tell me about a time you [insert desired culture trait – e.g., collaborated] with colleagues,” to each interview, followed by her favorite prompt, “Tell me about another time you did that.” Chances are if someone truly exhibits the values and behaviors your company seeks, they won’t struggle to find multiple examples.
Keith Beveans, partner at Bain and Company, shared his company’s approach to preserving culture by weaving values into their performance review and promotion process. Companies can do anything from rewarding and recognizing employee behaviors that align with company values to adding value-specific questions to the employee review process. This reinforces that values aren’t something that only entry-level employees, managers or executives need to embody, but they’re necessary at all levels and vital to one’s ability to progress to the next level.
Engaging in two-way dialogue and feedback
While communicators have a responsibility to clearly and consistently define company values and reinforce them through internal storytelling, it’s crucial that employees are asked to play a role in shaping the dialogue about company culture as well. To effectively reinforce and influence company culture, multiple panelists agreed that collecting feedback from employees isn’t enough – you must also act on their feedback! Josebachvili said Greenhouse uses the end of the hiring process, employee anniversaries and other milestones as natural times to encourage and request employee feedback, specifically on platforms like Glassdoor.
Sprout Social’s Jim Conti, director of talent, commented that providing consistency in the employee experience is vital, regardless of where the employee is located, what their daily responsibilities look like or who they report to. Consistent communication is the key component in making this a reality.
Establishing and maintaining an effective culture is a shared responsibility, requiring effort from a cross-functional team to be successful. Whether your day job is developing intranet articles, recruiting new hires or leading the entire company – you have a huge role to play in owning your company’s culture. It’s up to you!
Shelby Donald is an assistant account executive, Employee Engagement.