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4 Key Principles for Driving Authentic Organizational Culture

4 Key Principles for Driving Authentic Organizational Culture
Posted on Monday, October 8, 2018 by Rae Shanahan

With employees increasingly looking to employers to take the lead on social issues and have a purpose that resonates, it is critical for organizations to cultivate authentic culture and voice.

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This holds true for both current and prospective employees.

Culture is defined as the tactic social order of an organization. It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. That can feel like a rather nebulous concept. While it can be tough to verbalize at times, factors that shape an authentic culture include organizational values, purpose, and corporate responsibility.     

Contrary to what many may think, culture is not something you ask your HR professionals to check off their to-do list and move on. It’s a true business value and need that cannot be ignored. Based on its Organizational Health Index, McKinsey & Company found that organizations with top quartile cultures post a return to shareholders 60 percent higher than median companies. Don’t be fooled; culture correlates with business production.

As the CEO, HR professional, or leader on your team, you need to recognize the impact culture can make at your organization – whether that be negative or positive. If your employees feel they are in a toxic culture, they will leave. And if prospective employees see attrition or hear negative things about your culture, they won’t take the offer. Employees expect their workplace to be a place where they feel comfortable, inspired, and supported.

Building or changing a culture takes time and investment, but the payoff is worth it with both business productivity and employees’ well-being. Here are a few key principles for driving an authentic organizational culture.

  1. Culture must be a priority for leadership. Workplace culture is often developed and groomed from the top down. If a leader is not authentically living up to the culture promised at the organization, that too will become obvious and trickle down. Leaders should look to HR professionals as caretakers of the organizational culture by way of providing internal communication channels, sustaining reward and recognition systems, and ensuring that organizational ethics are defined and understood.
  2. Implement a short list of key behaviors. It is impossible to change every behavior of every employee at your organization, so you must be selective in choosing a few key behaviors that you believe will impact the culture if put into practice. For example, maybe your organization typically kicks off meetings in a particular way or sends each of your clients an ”anniversary” card thanking them for their partnership with you. Whatever they may be, ensure these few key behaviors are aligned with your business strategy and then identify individuals that can implement them.
  3. Start on day one. Your HR team plays a primary role in onboarding new employees into the company. This is an opportunity to teach new employees the value system, norms, and desired organizational behaviors. Teaching culture doesn’t quite translate, but there is an opportunity to share some about the culture and its importance to your organization in the onboarding session. If employees hear on their first day that you practice immediate feedback on a regular basis because you believe it drives productivity to impact bottom line, then they will feel prepared and also invested in this behavior.
  4. Don’t forget to be empathetic. If you regularly read our blog, you know that Businessolver is passionate about empathy – and rightfully so. Our 2018 State of Workplace Empathy study found that 9 in 10 employees are more likely to stay with an organization that empathized with their needs. Building an empathetic culture means listening and acting on what your employees are sharing. Use an employee feedback survey to get honest and open feedback from employees on the culture. This allows you to take a critical look at what may need to change and then use empathy to answer.

Are you interested in increasing workplace empathy at your organization? Download our e-book for more data on how empathy can improve your bottom line.