Company culture tells people what's acceptable - it's traditionally seen as the beliefs, norms and behaviors that show people "how things are done here." In order for culture to flourish, it needs to visibly (and authentically) demonstrate support for employee well-being and engagement. Sometimes people see perks like ping pong tables, free food and funky workspaces as indicators of culture.
Perks, policies and programs can support (or undermine) culture - but they're not the real deal. Culture isn't written down, it's the unseen and immersive energy of a workplace - the backdrop of everything that happens every day at every company - whether you like it or not. It can support people and performance, and it can drag it down too. You don't have to be a culture victim.
You can be intentional about building a culture that authentically supports employee well-being and engagement. We know that when employees believe they have support from their organization, they're more likely to have higher well-being and feel more engaged.
In fact, when an employee feels their company cares about their well-being, they're 38 percent more engaged. Here's five ways your culture can support people:
The best cultures thrive when they're strategically aligned to the goals of their business. If you're selling shoes your culture may focus on stellar service. If you're a manufacturing plant your culture may focus on safety. A hospital? Health.
Because at Limeade we focus on improving well-being and engagement with innovative technology, we emphasize a culture of personal and team improvement. Define your core business goal and build a culture that truly supports it.
Conduct an audit
To understand just how ready your organization is, you'll need to assess where you are. Recognize your cultural strengths and obstacles by going to the source - your employees. Don't let your leaders and managers filter the feedback. Cultural attributes like trust, flexibility and learning impact how supported people feel.
Once you determine the positives and negative attributes of your culture, develop a plan to address the things that are detracting from the culture you want, and therefore hurting your business. And don't forget to reinforce all of your positive attributes. At Limeade, we conducted an audit and then applied what we learned to every single step, process and product of the people lifecycle.
How we recruit, interview, onboard, review performance, promote (mostly up and sometimes out), compensate and communicate - it's all designed around the most aspirational aspects of our culture. Culture happens whether you're intentional or not. So if you believe hard work pays off in life - be intentional.
Consider the whole employee
When you focus on whole-person well-being - physical, emotional, work and financial well-being - you're acknowledging that everyone has multiple roles to balance in life. And that builds human connection and trust. Keeping this in mind when building programs for your people is key for creating an authentic culture that supports employees.
One example is the hot topic of flexibility. The separation between work life and home life is disappearing. And flexibility is more important than ever. Give employees flexibility in their schedule and how they do their work.
When employees have more control over how they spend their time, they'll be more focused on work when they're in the office and able to either unplug or work more when they're at home. Hold them accountable for results, not attendance. The best companies in the world thrive on the intrinsic drive of great employees.
Build well-being into the corporate ethos
Well-being drives engagement, so it's always a great place to start. (It's where our company started.) When you build well-being into corporate policies like paid vacation, into accepted norms like walking meetings with your manager, and into daily work life with tools and resources, you give employees the permission, space and nudges to take care of themselves. Investing in your people will help them invest back in your business.
Let leaders lead
Encourage leaders to act as role models with positive everyday actions. Managers can make a difference by demonstrating your company values and fostering trust. In fact, manager behaviors are the number one way to either support or stifle employee progress.
Guide managers to ask questions, listen, coach, clear roadblocks, provide support and encouragement, and offer learning and team building opportunities to foster trust.If you haven't made culture a priority, it's time to put the practices above in motion.
Create a company culture that keeps employees engaged, inspires productivity and gives employees a purpose. Put your people first and get ready to see results.
About the Author
Henry Albrecht is the founder & CEO of Limeade, an employee engagement company that builds great places to work by improving well-being and strengthening workplace culture. Connect with Henry and the Limeade team on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.