5 Ways to Cultivate Your Work Culture & Engage Your Employees

By Sara Pollock

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Creating an outstanding work culture that accurately represents a company’s values begins with strong leadership. When leadership creates and embodies a work culture that matches the company’s mission and vision, it becomes part of the company DNA. In today’s workplace, company culture is a major factor in attracting and retaining employees, and a lot of companies are working to create an engaging work environment that stands out against the more traditional workplaces and appeals to newer generations. Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, and when you factor in the workplace entrance of Generation Z, it will only increase the complexity of managing across multiple generations in a way that engages and resonates throughout the current and future workforce.

For inspiration, a lot of companies try to mimic workplaces like Netflix, Google, and Zappos who have reputations for being exciting, highly desirable work environments. Consider, however, that their models may not work for companies in different industries, regions, or those with smaller budgets. Instead, approach your own company culture by thinking about your unique business goals and values and how you can attract and retain employees who embody those things and will help you focus on the things that matter to your company.

What can you do that would make your work culture unique, but still stay true to who you are as a company? What is it that highly engaged workplaces have in common that’s missing from your strategy? We’ve compiled five strategies that a highly engaged workforce implements in order to stay authentic to the brand and employees alike:

1. Align Company and Employee Values

When interviewing a candidate, ask yourself, is this candidate a good cultural fit for my company? You can train anyone on job skills, but you can’t change someone’s attitude. It’s imperative that companies and employees have shared values. For example, a tobacco company or plastic manufacturer likely won’t attract a candidate for whom environmental or health issues are paramount. But, employees who are well-versed in company values are more engaged overall. Employees who understand company values understand what they are there to represent within the organization’s culture and brand.

So, where do you display your values? Can candidates easily access them? Do they play a part in your performance culture? Are they listed on the website, in the lunchroom, on a T-shirt? Values should be far more than just words kept in a binder somewhere.

Make sure your employees understand your company values with these steps:

  • Define your values: Clearly outline what your values are and what they mean. Go beyond the bumper sticker to ensure you can provide examples of your values in action within your organization.
  • Add values to your performance conversations: Don’t just put your values on a poster in the breakroom and leave it at that. Discuss how your employees are demonstrating values in their performance, and how those values matter and contribute to individual success.
  • Put your values on the website: Make your values known to your employees before they even apply. Placing your priorities front and center will help attract candidates who hold similar values and want to be a part of what you’re doing.
  • Add important values to your employee email signatures: Are there 2–3 values that really mean something to you? To your team? Put them on your email signatures. This does a few things — first, it creates a shared language, crucial for bonding and camaraderie. Second, it shows that you embody the company values yourself. As an added bonus, clients can easily see your values and find common ground there, too.

2. Foster Positive Relationships

highly engaged workplace fosters events and gatherings that help employees connect with their coworkers and build relationships. They create a fun, relaxed atmosphere where employees can step away from their desks and engage in a casual way. People with a friend at work are 7x more likely to engage fully in their work.

Many managers don’t realize the importance of internal relationships. Building these relationships can come in a lot of unique shapes, so here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Start a company-wide book club. This is something that works whether you’re all in the same office or spread across the country. Whether you choose business books or popular fiction, your employees can use the same technology they use during the day to connect on things not work-related.
  • Volunteer opportunities. Social responsibility is one of the best things a company can do for its employees’ well-being and engagement levels. Working together to build a house, serve a meal, weed a garden, or connect with an underserved community not only brings people together, but it also gives back to your neighborhood, city or region.
  • Create affinity groups. If you are part of a large company, it can be tough to know that Sam in accounting is frustrated by the same issues with puppy training that Bailey in marketing is struggling with. A great company intranet can help employees who aren’t in physical proximity get to know one another. Encourage employees to talk about themselves and create spaces to discuss hobbies and interests.
  • Plan regular outings. Company outings offer a chance for new interpersonal connections, and they’re an easy way to facilitate interactions outside of the conference room.

3. Invest In Your Employees

A fundamental part of creating an engaging work environment is making it clear to your employees that management cares about them and their future. Be transparent about developments happening within the business; it will help foster an environment where employees feel they are needed.

You can also show your employees that you value them by investing in their individual development, too. Assign them to mentors who can help them meet their goals, build out performance plans to reach promotions, treat everyone equally, and provide them with unbiased managers who will evaluate them fairly. Ask them about the things they need to be successful, and what they want for their careers. When you put their future as a priority, they know you’re investing in them for the long term, not just the company’s immediate needs.

4. Recognize Accomplishments

Employee recognition is a low cost, high impact strategy to boost engagement. An employee wants to know that when they’ve put in their best effort, someone’s going to notice. It can be as simple as their manager directly informing them of a job well done or an email shout-out from a peer. Consider what kind of recognition your employees respond well to; whether it be rewards and bonuses or private praise. The important thing is that you demonstrate that you see your employees and appreciate the work they do.

5. Foster Employee Pride

It’s important for employees to know how their contributions help to accomplish the overall goal of the company. When an employee can see how they are contributing to the success of the company, they take more pride in their work. Use a system that visualizes and tracks goal alignment to increase employee engagement by helping employees see how their efforts and work fit into the company as a whole. Goal alignment helps everyone from entry-level to C-Suite understand how their place fits into the organization. Instead of feeling like a cog in the machine, employees can see exactly how their work brings value.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible. ClearCompany offer ClearText which will help recruiters get their message across easily and connect with your candidates conveniently, capturing text conversations on the candidate’s profile for a comprehensive view to help your recruiters find the best-qualified candidates.

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