So you’ve got what you believe to be a dynamic, vibrant corporate culture in place. You offer your employees plenty of amazing benefits, you’re flexible with working hours, and every now and then you throw a hell of a party to celebrate just how awesome you all are.
But something’s not right. Instead of arriving at work beaming from ear to ear, your employees seem sullen and deflated. And rather than producing incredible, innovative work, they seem creatively stunted and unwilling to go the extra mile. So what gives?
Unfortunately, what might look good on paper doesn’t always work in practice, and despite the noblest of ideals, corporate cultures can sometimes fall flat. All it takes is one unreasonable manager, one junior who feels hard done by or one toxic interpersonal relationship to unsettle a company’s equilibrium, and bring all the good will and buy-in you’ve worked so hard to achieve crashing to the ground.
In many instances, these toxic environments arise as a result of a ‘culture’ being enforced on a team, cornering individuals into roles they’re uncomfortable playing and disrupting the existing status quo.
Contrary to popular belief, great corporate cultures aren’t simply dreamed up in boardrooms, condensed into bullet points and then dispersed amongst the workforce in the hope that they will go forth and execute. The most successful are those that are created collaboratively, drawing on the input of the people tasked with living and breathing them daily.
Ultimately, every workforce is different, comprising a diverse array of dynamic, varied personalities who don’t always necessarily see eye to eye. So just because you’ve always admired Google’s corporate culture doesn’t mean you can simply replicate it within your company.
If you want to ensure your employees are engaged and productive in their roles, you’ll need to start thinking about curating a culture that puts their interests at heart, and which speaks to the ideals that they hold dear.
Fail to do that, and even the most talented group of individuals in the world won’t be able to save your company from turning in on itself. So how do you hit the reset button and revive your flagging corporate culture? Here are 5 tips to get you started:
FIND OUT WHAT MAKES YOUR PEOPLE TICK
Great, so you’ve decided to offer your employees free gym memberships as an incentive to keep them engaged. After all, General Electric did it and it seems all their employees have smiles permanently plastered on their faces. But chances are, your employees are more partial to downing a bucket of fried chicken than they are to going anywhere near a treadmill, rendering your amazing perk fairly pointless in the long run.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming what’s important to your workforce – get into the trenches and ask them what matters to them. It’s only then that you’ll be able to introduce true benefits and incentives into your corporate culture, and find a niche that works for you.
ACHIEVE BUY-IN ACROSS THE BOARD
So you’ve established what makes your people tick – what next? Before any change can actually take place, you’ll need buy-in across all levels of the business, so make sure to clearly communicate the reasons for implementing change, and share your vision for the future across the organization. If you can get your workforce to see the bigger picture and understand the reasons for adapting your corporate culture, they’ll be far likelier to support the initiative going forward.
Many organisations make the mistake of implementing ‘quick-fix’ solutions, throwing perks and parties at problems in the hope that they’ll go away. But negative energy isn’t something that can be so easily stemmed. If you want to implement long-term healing within your business, you’ll need to work hard to identify where its wounds are, and do your best to mend them before you even think about dishing out incentives.
Your employees might be decked out with the latest iPhones and be driving around in state-of-the-art company cars. Hell, they may even love the work they do. But all this means nothing if they enter the office everyday fearing the wrath of their unhinged manager, who undermines and bullies them day in and out. Remember, it only takes one individual to unseat a perfectly functional culture, so it’s important that you take a hard line when dealing with these toxic elements in your workplace, and remove or rebuke them before it’s too late.
KEEP AT IT
Cultures are living, breathing organisms, which grow and evolve constantly as they adapt to promotions and demotions, hirings and firings. As such, a once-off fix isn’t necessarily going to result in a happily ever after. If you want to maintain a thriving corporate culture, you’ll need to keep your ear constantly to the ground, and be willing to adapt the parameters of your cultural offering in line with the sentiments and morale of your workforce.