(Story by Heather Huhman originally appeared in Inc.)
New research shows culture permeates every aspect of your company. When it falters on your watch, here’s how to breathe life back into it.
Company culture needs to go beyond the words written on your ‘about us’ page. It’s easy to jot down your values when inspiration strikes or incorporate its deep meaning into your company name, but many leaders get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of running a company and forget to follow through.
And, unfortunately, it shows.
TINYpulse’s 2017 Start-Up Culture Report found that, across the board, management is over-confident about how well their company culture is performing. This includes everything from transparency to feeling valued to employee happiness.
When company culture dwindles, so does transparency and motivation. This takes a major toll on employee morale and even your bottom line. In fact, the report also found growth in revenue and headcount is the highest correlated with transparency.
Without transparency between leaders and employees, there’s no way to fully implement and live out your company culture.
Here’s how you can breathe some life back into your company’s culture:
1. Get out of your own way.
Avadim Technologies, a life sciences company, is truly focused on others. In fact, the word “Avadim” is Hebrew for “serving others” — it doesn’t get much more literal than that.
To live up to their name, Steve Woody, Avadim’s CEO, starts at the core of the company: with employees.
“Avadim deliberately hires each employee with an emphasis on the ‘others oriented’ mindset,” Woody explained. “We give each one the opportunity to give back to others with paid time off and the use of company products to make the world a healthier place.”
Avadim’s leaders get out of their own way and let their company culture speak for itself.
To enhance recruiting efforts, speak with talented job seekers who connect to the ‘why’ of your company. While many of us can’t express our ‘why’ in the company name alone, take another note from Avadim and put your culture into action.
Give employees the opportunity to do volunteer work that connects with your company culture. Offer paid time off, matching donation programs, or company-wide fundraisers. Share these efforts in your job description, on social media, and have your team write or record testimonials about their experiences.
2. Bring your team in for a makeover.
You can’t control when inspiration strikes. For Dr. Laura Hamill, chief people officer and Limeade Institute Director at Limeade, a corporate wellness technology company, inspiration for company values hit during dinner and were written down on a napkin.
A few years later, Hamill and the founding team recognized it was time for an update. This time, they asked employees for their input.
“Looping them into the process made the values more authentic and ensured they resonated with everyone,” Hamill said. “But simply writing down ‘We’re a Team!’ wasn’t enough.”
So, they encouraged employees, managers, and leaders to dig a bit deeper. As a team, they listed six values and described what it meant to live each value.
“What does it mean for a manager to ‘Own It?’ What does it mean for an employee to demonstrate ‘Anything is Possible’?” she continued.
Don’t get stuck on sentimental values. Invite current team members in for a fun makeover session. Ask them to dive deep into what each cultural aspect means to them, the company, and their co-workers. Keep the discussion open by placing a whiteboard in a common area — or virtual notebook for remote offices — so employees can keep adding and editing as they’re inspired.
3. Stop talking and start acting.
There comes a time when you have to put the pen and paper down and start getting your hands dirty.
At Avadim, for instance, employees are given the opportunity to use products in the field using paid time off designed specifically for this purpose.
Woody said, “So far, employees have traveled to Honduras, Nigeria, Mexico, and more to volunteer and spread Theraworx to nursing outposts in need of proper hygienic products to improve health care systems.”
As for Limeade, they infuse their values into every part of the company’s operations.
“We have value questions in our interview guide; we have a value-based performance management process that asks employees and managers to describe how we’re living the values; we recognize people with our values awards; and we measure our progress through our value questions in our weekly TINYpulse questions,” Hamill shared.
From living out missions in impoverished countries to implementing culture in everything they do, both Limeade and Avadim are lifting their cultures up off the page and bringing them to life.