Workplace culture is a topic that divides employers. Some businesses claim they have it in spades; others don’t see the value and return on investment. Silicon Valley tech companies always try to outdo each other with in-office slides and impressive perks programs. Still, do these benefits actually amount to a culture that drives productivity and employee loyalty?
Many employees are social beings and crave interaction with their colleagues. High performers want to understand the company goals and embody the values. This desire for an interconnected workforce drives forward workplace culture. Top talent is attracted and kept, without losing out to a competitor. But the culture wars are hotting up, particularly with the current discussions around flexibility and hybrid working post-pandemic. Employees have to decide the individual merit they place on workplace perks. Do they prefer a structured 9-5 in a pleasant office environment, free snacks, and social amenities like ping pong tables? Or is hybrid and flexible working something on which they place the most value?
The final results of the great work-from-home experiment are yet to be clarified. However, one thing is for sure. It has laid bare the importance of ensuring an organization’s internal communication and intranet strategy are ready to support and drive company culture. Because they could be needed at an undetermined point in the future. But why does a company’s culture hold so much importance?
Defining an organization’s identity
Identifying what makes an organization unique is no easy feat, and it varies from sector to sector. What is culturally acceptable for a law firm or construction business may differ from those working at a tech company. Still, it can be difficult to pinpoint what makes a particular culture valuable to those within it. Is it the flexibility, a positive work-life balance? Is it the benefits, unlimited holiday or a bonus scheme? Or perhaps it’s the team collaboration, with monthly all-hands meetings and regular team days out? The truth is, it’s all of these things and more.
Organizations are defined by their culture. It influences every layer, from the new starter onboarding process to customer and partner interactions. It even impacts how often employees share their daily work life on social media. They will be much more willing to become an employee advocate when the offices are well designed, fun activities are happening, and they feel engaged within the workplace.
Culture reverberates across everything. It creates an external and internal identity that reflects the organization’s messaging and values. Whether employee-focused, customer-first, office-based, or remote, showcasing the uniqueness of a business is key to understanding why people want to work there, why employees remain long-term, and how customers perceive the company.
Culture as a recruitment tool
No one wants to work in a boring workplace, particularly the younger generations. Gone are the days of grey walls and cubicles, replaced by futuristic coffee machines and pool tables. As baby boomers retire, young Millennials and Generation Z demand more from their workplace than ever before. But competition for talent is rife amongst trendy agencies and hip tech companies. Those from a dull working environment with no culture may find themselves in a recruitment battle that they cannot win.
As baby boomers retire, young Millennials and Generation Z demand more from their workplace than ever before.
Employees who feel connected and have a sense of community with their colleagues are more likely to flourish. Promoting a top-down sense of appreciation about the business and its people has a wide-ranging appeal.
When it comes to recruitment, cultivating a workplace culture that employees are happy to champion is a valuable tool. It catches the attention of high-level performers. Frequently, the referral scheme is popular because others are happy to encourage their friends and former colleagues to join the business. This strategy is only possible if staff trust the employer to treat their contacts in the same positive way.
Tasked with improving your internal comms?
It’s worth remembering that the right person for the job isn’t always the top performer on paper. Finding the best cultural fit for any business is no easy feat. Reliable talent with the required skills can be hard to find, never mind someone that is the right cultural fit. Highly qualified and experienced candidates can turn into a nightmare hire if they don’t fit in with an organization’s culture. But don’t forget – while searching for the perfect employee, there’s a thin line between discrimination and cultural fit.
Top talent will understand and appreciate the importance of company culture. They will want to prove they can fit in and recognize the benefits of doing so. Particularly if they get a welcoming reaction from colleagues and if a business’ reputation speaks for itself.
A living embodiment of company values
Workplace culture can be a direct reflection of your company values. These values can be inherently embedded in every layer of communication, peer-to-peer recognition, and customer interaction. It sets the tone for the experience that your employees have daily. Company values have an impact on the very fabric of the organization.
For your company values to resonate within your workforce, they must be overtly present in all internal communications. Employees should be able to interpret and understand them. Otherwise, they come across as meaningless. Culture should be a living reflection of your values, or what is the point?
Culture should be a living reflection of your values, or what is the point?
Having clearly defined business values driven by culture is very beneficial for all. When everyone understands the importance of the organization’s objectives, they share a purpose and work together to achieve a common goal.
A survey of LinkedIn members by peer coaching platform Imperative found that 73% of purpose-oriented employees feel satisfied within their current role, compared with 64% who struggle within a non-purpose driven environment. The same research found that it also has an impact on a business’s bottom line. 58% of surveyed companies with clear and obvious purpose-lead values experienced growth of 10%, compared to 42% of companies without such a strategy.
So, it’s clear that having values that articulate business goals and allow employees to contribute doesn’t just benefit staff retention and recruitment, but also the overall business strategy. It is critical for the foundation of any business that wants to create a productive, collaborative, and motivating environment for employees to thrive.
Intranets drive workplace culture
A solid and well-thought-out internal communication strategy will set your workplace culture alight. Intranet software ensures that all colleagues are connected and collaborating; whether employees are sat next to each other in the office or on the other side of the world.
Every piece of internal communication must represent the cultural message of an organization correctly. It is a cog in the well-oiled machine of the culture, and the company values are the oil. An intranet is often a representation of the brand overall, with many companies choosing to name it after something relevant to them. It highlights the specific nuances that represent any brand.
Putting company values and culture at the forefront of your intranet strategy is one way to build a successful company that thrives and communicates well with all employees.
When it comes to workplace culture, employees need to know what is expected and required of them. That’s where the intranet comes in. It can communicate this messaging to all, so they understand precisely how the organization operates, both internally and externally, from the standard of behavior to the tone of voice.
Tasked with improving your internal comms?
Putting company values and culture at the forefront of your intranet strategy is one way to build a successful company that thrives and communicates well with all employees. Everything, from sharing business updates in the right tone to rewarding colleagues that go the extra mile and represent the core business values, has a lasting impact.
When done right, intranets increase employee advocacy and encourage innovative thinking. Here are eight ways they can have a direct influence on improving a company’s culture:
1) Keep staff engaged
Maintaining employee engagement has particular cultural importance, creating valuable conversations that go two or more ways and promoting innovation and interaction. It avoids stale, information-heavy messaging from senior leaders that struggle to get across meaningful content and doesn’t garner a high level of engagement.
Increasing engagement through the intranet requires strategic internal communications, audience targeting, and personalization to be optimized. Whether in the office or operating remotely, the principles are the same. Creating a meaningful space for employees to express themselves encourages collaboration and makes staff feel like their voice matters. Thus, increasing purpose and drive within their role. Appreciated employees are more likely to stay long-term and go above and beyond for the organization.
Creating a meaningful space for employees to express themselves encourages collaboration and makes staff feel like their voice matters.
Intranets are only as effective as the content they hold and the engagement they promote. Just adding endless long and dull documentation will discourage use. Not making it user-friendly will also put people off. To promote insightful and helpful blogs, encourage employees to get involved and create user-generated content. This approach is much more natural and informative than if managed by a select few. Decentralizing content production in this way also takes the pressure off internal communicators, as employees all share the workload.
2) Collaboration and networking
Office culture is changing. COVID-19 has increased a shift in remote and hybrid working, and team collaboration has also been through a transition. Past workplaces relied heavily on social events to bring teams together, such as company-wide meetings or team-building activities. The events of the past eighteen months have meant that bosses now look for new, digital ways to increase teamwork and provide internal networking opportunities.
Tasked with improving your internal comms?
That’s where workplace digital transformation has an opportunity to shine. It makes culture and internal communications accessible to all, from remote workers to those on-site. Social interactions with colleagues may have changed due to the pandemic. COVD-19 super-charged the transformation process, driving widespread adoption of the intranet and other digital tools, making internal communications more prevalent than ever before.
3) A focus on wellbeing
The pandemic has decimated the mental health of millions. With forced lockdowns, homeschooling, job insecurity, and ongoing global uncertainty, it’s no surprise that many are predicting a worrying mental health epidemic. And that may explain the increased focus on mental wellbeing coming from many employers.
Full-time remote working due to government mandates thrust employees into a situation previously unknown to them. HR teams were in a prime position to ensure mental wellbeing was highlighted, and managers often checked in with at-risk employees. The importance of digitized internal communication was suddenly obvious, particularly pertinent in the high-stress situation that millions found themselves in. With a return to the office on the cards for many, there is a real risk of heightened mental health issues caused by re-entry anxiety.
4) Promote diversity and inclusion
An integrated and diverse culture is much more robust and innovative than one that discourages individuality. But it can be a challenge to avoid cliques and make the culture overall inclusive, particularly in an environment with poor communication.
Diversity and inclusion should be at the center of any worthwhile business values. It shouldn’t take too much encouragement for employees to get involved and elevate what makes people unique. Content creation that celebrates specific days, whether it is a religious holiday or LGBT Pride week, can enlighten workers operating outside of those particular interest groups. Promoting dedicated communities and discussion forums, where like-minded people can educate those who are intrigued, will form and support workplace bonds across multiple levels.
Always consider staff differences when planning workplace culture and company values.
Interacting and collaborating with people from all backgrounds is a fantastic benefit of a workplace environment, especially if everyone appreciates each other. Even when on different ends of the religious and political spectrum, colleagues can work together cohesively, and be educated too.
Looking to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Learn as much as possible about the challenges each employee is facing. Encourage openness on the intranet and base content around it. Always consider staff differences when planning workplace culture and company values.
5) Create a culture of trust
Workplace transparency fosters a supportive environment where employees trust the senior management team. And when it comes to culture, leaders must encourage openness and honesty. Receiving feedback is valuable, too, whether positive comments or constructive criticism.
Employees want to feel confident in their employer and supported in their daily roles. When hiring top talent and the best cultural fit, constantly monitoring them and micromanaging is an excellent way to push them into another position. Trust the hiring decision and give the employee room to grow.
Tasked with improving your internal comms?
Communicate with staff through technology without overloading them with information. This is where having intranet broadcasts and company-related rich media newsletters really come into their own. Employees can be informed of any relevant business updates and read them at their leisure. Using broadcasts and newsletters breaks down any professional barriers of internal communication and while keeping the organization’s culture in mind.
6) Conduct employee surveys
Cultivating a living, breathing culture is a beneficial step for both businesses and employees alike. And it can help to receive open and honest feedback about how employees genuinely feel about workplace changes and developments.
Whether sending out an annual or biannual staff survey or a quicker pulse check-in, these are a valuable tool for driving digital transformation and real change through a business. Surveys big and small open up channels of dialogue for all colleagues and create a place to exchange feedback. Providing this opportunity for input and pushback from employees is vital in creating an open and transparent culture that communicates effectively. It keeps the workforce informed and breeds trust in the business leaders.
7) Make company culture accessible from your pocket
One exciting step forward with a digitized workplace culture is accessibility. Using a mobile app to access the intranet from wherever the employee desires is a compelling example of this digital transformation. Whether checking in at the beach, from the bus home, or in the comfort of the office, employees truly have the flexibility to connect with colleagues, read new posts, and interact with any company-wide announcements directly from their phone or tablet. They hold the key to workplace culture in their hands.
Some people will be more comfortable using their work PC to access the intranet, and others will much prefer the freedom of the mobile app. Creating and driving culture through internal communications is all about flexibility and finding out what works best for you. It improves engagement and helps the workforce stay aligned across the whole organization, increasing the focus on culture and managing expectations across the board.
Some people will be more comfortable using their work PC to access the intranet, and others will much prefer the freedom of the mobile app.
Employees that are connected to their workplace culture are noticeably more loyal and collaborative. Having an easily accessible internal dialogue with their fellow colleagues allows for increased engagement and unified goals. Evaluating and driving workplace culture through internal communication is essential for any thriving environment.
8) Training and onboarding
Offer training and onboarding to all staff as a positive introduction to the culture and working environment of any business. First impressions count, and even the most dedicated employee will remember a poor, badly-organized start to their role. Intranet software allows for easy training management and improved cross-team communication, so any new starters can settle in with ease.
Providing staff with the tools they need to complete their new role sets them up for success. It allows managers to see what level their new hire is at, and unlocks new potential when it comes to upskilling particular members of the team. Enrolling and onboarding via the intranet also keeps a centralized digital record of where teams are up to with their training requirements and take the load off teams that would have to complete it manually otherwise.
Any business that struggles to meet these goals may find itself with a recruitment struggle, a lack of long-term talent in their business, and a significant challenge to thrive and innovate. If intranet technology isn’t taken advantage of, internal communications may be futile, and employees will face challenges that cannot be addressed. It will also be a lot harder to gauge the impact of the technology on your workforce.
Intranets empower, they drive culture, and they support. Without realizing the heights they can reach, the business ultimately fails their most engaged staff. By sharing and boosting internal communications, they add another dimension to the workplace, one that will fulfill and sustain for many years to come.