Nurturing Corporate Culture: It’s Critical to Get Employees On Board

July 13, 2017

by Michelle Smith

Randstad’s Work Watch survey reveals company culture is a critical driver of business success.

In fact, two-thirds of employees believe company culture is vitally important to the success of their organizations, noting it has the greatest impact on their morale and productivity.

While corporate culture may be the secret weapon to retaining workers and increasing productivity, many work cultures have suffered over the last few years, with 59 percent of survey respondents believing layoffs, reduced benefits, and stagnant wages have negatively impacted their culture and caused morale to wane.

Re-igniting company culture 

Randstad’s research found that focusing on improving company culture is often an overlooked opportunity to jump start business improvements and should be treated as a critical component in the overall business strategy.

However, nurturing the culture won’t succeed on its own if employees don’t have a positive and trusting attitude towards the company and its leadership.

Leaders need to re-ignite morale and rebuild the organizational culture before introducing new initiatives, change projects and other corporate objectives, or risk dooming the new project to failure for lack of widespread support.

Take a serious look at your business culture to assess how and where you can become stronger, more cohesive and increasingly relevant to those in whose hands your corporate destiny resides — your employees.

Meeting employees’ rational and emotional needs

While individual needs will vary from person to person, research from CEB (known previously as the Corporate Executive Board) discovered employees have six (6) basic needs that need to be met in the workplace to achieve optimal performance and engagement:

  1. Recognition;
  2. Autonomy/Freedom;
  3. Personal growth;
  4. Meaningful work;
  5. Respect;
  6. A sense of belonging.

The first four are rational factors and can be met through strategic corporate objectives.

The last two (respect and a sense of belonging) appeal to employees’ emotional side and are driven by the company’s culture. Although there are fewer emotional factors, they’re far more successful in improving employee engagement, retention and job satisfaction than the rational factors.

In fact, CEB found the emotional factors were four times more effective than the rational factors in influencing employee performance and encouraging great work.

Respect and belonging

In Why Should Anyone Be Led by You, authors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones confirm the importance of these two emotional factors in employees’ expectations of leaders, although they use the terms “significance” and “community” and include the additional traits of authenticity and excitement in the successful leader’s toolbox.

  • Respect/Significance – Employees need recognition for their contributions, and this is a profound human need repeatedly pronounced by social psychologists. Yet, as much as we all crave this validation and feedback, too many leaders continue to withhold it. As a leader, do you pay attention to those you lead, making them feel what they’re trying to achieve is important, and that they have a vital role to play in the organization?
  • Belonging/Community – Employees want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Human beings are hardwired for sociability and have a deep-rooted desire to belong and relate to others. Are you engendering a sense of community among your team and helping them to connect with each other and the overarching purpose of the organization?

About Michelle Smith

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A world-renowned speaker, writer, and consultant, Michelle M. Smith is a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments. A highly accomplished industry leader, she is a respected authority on leadership, internal branding, and engagement. As O.C. Tanner's Vice President of Business Development, she intuitively understands the importance of unlocking an employee’s hidden potential, and how to leverage performance development initiatives for a maximum return on investment. A recognition and engagement thought leader, Michelle has been named as one of the “Ten Best and Brightest Women in the Incentive Industry.” She is President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association, past president of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University, among other prestigious board positions past and present.