Corporate culture in the here and now

January 29, 2018 |  Leave your thoughts

So much has been written on the topic of company culture and its impact on the talent management dimensions. How important is company culture really? Do all generations care about a healthy culture? Does it matter if the culture is toxic or healthy?

Most of us understand that an organisation’s culture is really based on a set of shared values, beliefs and assumptions. These usually make up the way in which people behave in the business, interact and work with one another. Simply put, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Most of us also understand that these values are driven by executive leadership and management (driven by the CEO) and that culture is not a static thing as it has to evolve with the times. A company’s culture evolves as leaders change and as the business strategy and focus evolves.

As Human Resource (HR) professionals, we are often mistaken as being the drivers of the business culture. We all know that this is not the case – what we do is try to understand the current concerns employees have with the business culture and find the gaps that exist in achieving the desired state of existence.

But how often have we also heard employees complain that every year we ask them tirelessly to complete climate and culture surveys and at every formal review we ask for feedback on leadership and management style. Have any of us heard their complaints? Have we successfully convinced the CEO that corporate culture remains increasingly important to the success of a business and the paradigm shift required?

Maybe we are stuck in analysis paralysis or just ticking the boxes whilst others have successfully navigated and implemented changes that appeal to the current workforce. But does any of this really matter anymore, is this topic stale and which employees in our workforces really cares about any of this? Yes, naturally Millennials. Generation Y or Millennials are already part of our current workforce so let us focus on the here and now.

Millennials as a generation, is daring, want to travel the world and engage with people from all walks of life. They are far more focused on the here and now, seeing the world, using the best technology and the shortest route possible drives them to the best gain. They are not concerned about working long hours or being restricted to working at an office for eight hours per day pushing papers that, frankly, some application can automate. They are concerned about the work environment and the brand values (culture) of that environment and this requires a very different type of leadership style.

The values and culture of an organisation are extremely important to Millennials. As much as they want, they are willing to give back and will aspire towards working for organisations that expose the same values as they do. The challenge facing all organisations is that the workplace is diverse and usually there would be at least four or five generations to deal with. However, it is my opinion that because of this growing dominance and disruption of technology, we should be focusing our efforts on the Millennials who will form the largest part of our workforce in the near future.

Some things we should consider:

Brand image – What are current employees telling their family and friends about the company? What are ex-employees saying at exit interviews and what message are they promoting about the company when speaking to others? These questions are important as we try to promote our employee value propositions to attract the right skills to our business. Marketing tactics employed by corporates are often not enough to convince Millennials of suitable company culture and let us face it, what we say we offer does not always equate to what we do offer. Millennials often engage in deep research when trying to understand a working environment that may be suited to the image that they espouse to. Are we ensuring that our brand image is the one that is going to attract the right talent to our business, what message are we including as part of our recruitment drives and do we know what employees are relaying to others? Even more importantly, we should be investing more in activities that rapidly engage these Millennials emotionally as part of our onboarding strategies.

Work/life balance – In my experience working as a HR professional, this is one concept that consistently pops up on the radar, i.e. employees claiming that they need work/life balance and leaders not really grasping what it means, especially if a workday amount to only eight hours, surely there can be no issue with work/life balance. Work/life balance is not just about spending more time with the family, for Millennials it is also about working in a company that is concerned about their health and happiness. Working hours must be flexible and where the work is done should not be a concern, leaders need to be trusting. Google is one of few companies who has successfully been able to prioritise the health and happiness of their employees.  What kind of tactics are we currently employing to promote work/life balance for our employees and how are we educating our leaders on making the shift?

Diversity and inclusion – We should learn from the Starbucks example that showcases diversity and inclusion in the workplace by hiring and creating partners and not just employees. Starbucks offers opportunities not only to their partners but also extend these to the spouses and children of partners. So many perks, so much time off for further education – an outstanding example of diversity and inclusion. Millennials love the idea of seeing the world, exploring diversity and are global-centric and daring in nature. These folk want to be acknowledged and recognised for their achievements and want to be respected for what they bring to the work environment. They want opportunities to learn and access to career growth. Millennials are also interested in working for organisations that are socially responsible and assimilate with brands that give back through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Indeed, getting the balance right is somewhat important in trying to deal with multiple generations in the workplace, but the reality is that we are already facing the introduction of Generation Z or Post-Millennials in our workplaces – are we ready to engage!

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