Whether your team is all in one office, spread out among several, in a hybrid environment, or completely remote, creating a positive culture is important for retention, talent acquisition, engagement, and productivity. How can you create a culture that benefits your organization? We spoke with INTOO client Jennifer Fisher, SHRM-SCP, Director of People and Culture at International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc. (ISTS) to learn what makes her company’s culture work. Read on for her tips.
5 Tips for Creating a Positive Culture
Talk to your employees.
Getting to know your employees is an essential step in creating a positive culture. Employees should feel as though they are recognized as individuals and not just a number in your workforce count.
Knowing your employees helps you to understand what is and isn’t working in your company. Fisher says her organization has all hands meetings and will sometimes offer a survey in conjunction with them. “[Also,] we do weekly announcements and sometimes we’ll ask a question in there.” She also says one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers are important to gain insights into how they are doing and what they need.
Offer benefits that align with employees’ needs.
These conversations also help determine what benefits are needed for employees. When considering a benefit, first determine what the benefit is supposed to solve for, as well as what the return should be. “What will it improve for people?” is a question Fisher says is important to ask. For example, if employees talk about a desire to increase their skills or need help with creating a strategy to grow with your organization, career development might be a worthwhile benefit to offer. If commuting costs are high in your area and people must work in an office, transportation stipends might make sense.
Emphasize and encourage alignment with core values.
Know your organization’s core values and hire candidates who align with them. That way new employees will not only be contributing to the effectiveness of your workforce, but will benefit your culture as well.
“When we bring people on, we want to make sure that they’re aligned with our core values. Our core values [are represented by the acronym] ‘GROWTH.’ Get it done. Respect everyone. Own the outcome. Work hard, play hard. Trust and be trusted. And help others. And we specifically ask questions in the interview process, for example, about how [the candidates] exemplify these,” says Fisher.
Then, make sure to hold your employees to those standards throughout their tenure.
“When we do our assessments, we ask people to focus on what they have done to embody these values over the past assessment period,” says Fisher.
Recognize employees and encourage them to do the same.
Fisher says that recognizing colleagues and employees regularly is also a vital aspect of their positive culture. “We can recognize each other.” Recognition can come in many forms—verbal recognition at a meeting or in department- or company-wide email, a simple thank you, a financial bonus, and more. Encouraging employees to recognize one another boosts collaboration, builds team spirit, and adds to a positive company culture.
Create opportunities for socializing.
When your employees get to know each other on a more personal level, their empathy can get a boost as their understanding of one another improves. No matter where your employees are, create situations that encourage social interaction to enable this type of bonding.
Prior to COVID, ISTS was in a shared office with some people working remotely. Since then they’ve become completely remote, spread across 12 states. But they make an effort to have both virtual and in-person get-togethers.
Remote events can include virtual happy hours, games, and even volunteering. “We do virtual volunteering for the people who don’t live in the Nashville [headquarters] area,” says Fisher.
In-person events can involve volunteering, as well as happy hours, picnics, cultural outings, and more.
“We have partnerships with some local charities to provide opportunities for both gathering and giving back. We regularly volunteer in groups at Nashville Diaper Connection and choose additional opportunities virtually and in-person each quarter to both connect and give back,” she said.
Creating a positive culture isn’t difficult and it’s likely you’re already following some of the suggestions on this list. Try following some of the other tips to give a boost to your morale and see improvements in retention, engagement, talent acquisition, and more.