The formula to improving workplace culture

One of the most common things we are approached to help clients with is improving workplace culture. Culture seems to be one of those elusive things that often gets put in the ‘too difficult’ box to tackle. But at DICE, we see culture simply as how people behave when no-one is watching, and if you don’t like the current culture, you can change it.

Firstly, if you haven’t set parameters for what the expected behaviours are that you want to see then don’t be surprised if you end up disappointed. Having a strong set of values that set out the guiding behaviours you want to achieve in your business is the first step towards driving your culture, but they must be lived – not just words on a wall or on your website.

This is one of the most rewarding pieces of work that we do with clients, particularly those organisations who have never articulated their values before. We work with your senior leadership team in the first instance asking questions like:

Probing into these questions helps us to tease out what your organisation’s personality is and what makes you unique. Once we have this in a raw format the key is then to chat to other employees and get their input – asking them what they think. Does it resonate with them, or is it a million miles apart from how it feels to work there day in and out?

We don’t usually find there’s a huge gap in thinking, but it is a great way of engaging people into the process because ultimately it is everyone living and breathing these values which will embed them, so they become ‘how you do things around here’.

The key is to bring them to life and embed them into everyday behaviours, getting people engaged in the process. How do you do this? Well obviously, you get in touch with us to help you! But if you’re not up for that just yet, here are five ways to do it:

  1. Bring them to life – words on their own can be mis-interpreted. Leaders need to role-model the behaviours that they want to see in others. Get creative in how you explain the ‘why’ behind each value. Make sure employees ‘see’ the values visually displayed (on computer monitors, posters, website, Intranets, etc), but also that they ‘feel’ the values in the way they are treated.
  2. Ensure that as well as commercially driven employee objectives, every employee has an objective which directly links back to how they behave according to your values. This then becomes an ongoing discussion during monthly 1-1 meetings to pick up any behaviours that aren’t in-keeping, and also to reward and recognise when they are displaying the company values.
  3. Use employee briefings to remind people of the values, and spotlight behaviour from people which is in alignment with values. Use your monthly/quarterly employee briefings to celebrate and recognise great behaviours from people that is in-line with your values. If you have an employee recognition scheme, link it directly to your values,
  4. Theme your employee engagement activity around a different company value each month or quarter. For instance, if one of your values is ‘entrepreneurial’ consider running an all-staff competition to come up with the most entrepreneurial ideas to improve the organisation.
  5. Start before they even join. Part of your recruitment process should be to test alignment with your company values. Clearly this needs to be an inclusive process, but it is an important part of testing whether there is a cultural fit for the individual and you as the employer.  

Improving workplace culture is a key component of our DICE Team Spirit package. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.

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