22 Sep Three Steps to Achieve a Better Company Culture this Heritage Day
Each year, the celebration of Heritage Day on 24 September highlights discussions around culture. On this day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions. In a rainbow nation, our differences are to be celebrated. Globally, too, there is greater emphasis being placed on diversity and inclusion in organisations. In light of this, we thought we would take this opportunity to talk about an important aspect of culture – company culture.
Company culture encompasses values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. It defines the rules of engagement between employees and between management levels, providing guidance as to how things are done, what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. A good company culture will help a company attract and retain employees. Further, when these employees are aligned to the company culture, they are generally happier, more engaged, and become inclined to be ambassadors for your brand, leading to improved company performance. In South Africa, company culture could be a strong draw card for attracting great employees and improving company reputation, where organisations who value the individuality and diversity of their workforce can gain the cutting edge.
However, despite the clear benefits of creating a cohesive culture, we are seeing many organisations failing to prioritise this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The business-scramble caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has led many companies to focus more on their bottom line, without considering how they can emphasise a positive culture in a virtual working environment to help give them a competitive edge.
So, how does one go about building a strong, inclusive and cohesive culture when managing a diverse set of individuals online?
Step one: Communicate
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Actually, it can be hard to get right when you are trying to navigate a new business environment with unseen challenges. However, we have found that our clients who prioritised internal communications at the start of lockdown seem to be closer to the light at the end of the tunnel than those who didn’t. For these companies, the pandemic was almost a team-building exercise.
Today’s workforce appreciates ongoing feedback and clearly communicated goals. A once-yearly company newsletter (or perhaps a monthly COVID-19 update) is unlikely to create the collaborative and dynamic company culture you need. Employees need to understand how what they do is linked to the company’s objectives. We recommend implementing a strong, regular and two-way internal communications strategy which will not only help you communicate the kind of culture you want to embed but will help create it, too.
Step two: Walk the talk
It’s cliché but it’s true: “actions speak louder than words”. Communicating your company culture to your staff through “mission and vision” posters and annual “code of conduct” mailers is not sufficient if you want the kind of culture that will give you the edge. The way you conduct your company will say a lot about the kind of environment you want to create, and gives clues to your staff about how to conduct themselves and your business. Take note of how you interact with clients, stakeholders, and the media. Your staff will pay more attention to what you do than to what you say.
Step three: Curate your employer brand
In our experience, your employer brand should be as strong as your customer brand. Unfortunately, companies continually miss the mark on this by solely investing in their external marketing and communications effort. While this is obviously vital (and is the core of our business at SWM), it is important to note that a strong reputation amongst your customers means nothing without your employees to reinforce it. After all, they are most likely the ones in contact with your target market. A strong employer brand and company culture will see your staff become brand ambassadors. The bottom line is: if your staff think you’re great, it will be much easier for them to convince customers of that.
Need help implementing these three steps and tailoring them to your company requirements? Contact us for proven communications strategies designed to grow your brand and business.