Prioritizing Workplace Culture

Following in the footsteps of last week’s blog and podcast, this week we look at organizations who have prioritized the culture of their workplace. Some of the top companies in the US have worked hard to reach high employee job satisfaction ratings. Some of these companies include Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Twitter, Google, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Adobe, CIGNA, Nike, and CenturyLink., a job and recruiting site, uses employees to rate their employers to create a list of the best places to work. The Glassdoor 2017 lists include 50 of the top-rated large companies and another 50 of the top-rated medium to small companies. Employees consistently remark that their companies are all about the people who work for them–that they feel valued as an individual and that they understand clearly how their work efforts impact the organization. All of this adds up to employees enjoying going to work every day despite the fact their jobs may be stressful. Yes, wages are mentioned also, but not nearly as often as how they are treated.

Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, has helped change the way that customer service is provided. As a result, Zappos estimates that 75% of their sales come from returning customers. Customer service is so important to Zappos, that Hsieh is well-known for saying that “Zappos is a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” He also maintains that their top priority is company culture and not customer service. Their belief is that if the culture is right, delivering your productivity goals follows more easily. In fact, it is such a high priority that when Zappos was sold to Amazon, it was under the condition that they continue to operate as a separate company for the main reason of maintaining their culture.

Zappos is not the only company that spends so much energy on company culture, but let’s face facts: changing, creating, or maintaining a positive environment for employees is a time-consuming commitment. So how do they do it?

The biggest step in the process may be the first one. With so many competing priorities in any organization, how do you make culture change your top priority? If you’re asking that question, it may be time for a change in perspective. The real question you should be asking is “what happens when you don’t make culture a priority?” This question should be the driving force when the cost of staffing turnover drags an organization to its knees. Make the decision to first change the culture and watch how it benefits the rest of your organization.

Once you’ve made the decision to change the culture, next you’ll want to determine whether to use internal or external resources to implement the change. Either way will work. If your organization has the ability to dedicate people to the tasks of building the roadmap for change, then proceed with your internal resources. The tasks you should expect to complete are: planning out a schedule of meetings, implementing policy changes, implementing hiring changes, completing training sessions, and developing a maintenance plan. Many organizations decide to use an outside consulting agency to guide them through the process. Searching the internet for “workplace culture consultants” or “business culture consultants” will yield you more than enough to get you started. Some consultants specialize in an industry or in the size of an organization so choose one that will fit with your specific goals. Many organizations will find consultants through networking with colleagues who have completed the journey of culture change. One organization told me that even though they spent most of their annual training budget on a consultant, the benefits they have seen made it an excellent value.

Good luck in your endeavors to improve and maintain your workplace culture. Employees are the greatest resource in any company so treat each one as if they are irreplaceable and watch your production go through the roof.




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