Workplace culture is one of the biggest factors considered by potential hires, aside from job description, pay and other factors. This is the case for an obvious reason: no one wants to work in an environment that doesn’t feel good. Similarly, workplace culture is also cited when it comes to employee departures, poor company performance and missed department targets. When the term “toxic environment” is thrown around, it’s obvious that the workplace has a poor culture that doesn’t inspire, motivate or create a sense of safety that builds creativity or productivity.
Human Resources (HR) often ends up being seen as the Holy Grail for management and other departments as the HR team is asked to “fix things” and create a more positive workplace with an improved corporate culture. Unfortunately, no one, not even someone with a human resource management diploma, has a single solution to fix complex issues involving people.
Where to Start?
Perhaps a better question would be when to start. And the answer to that is now. Culture-related issues don’t get better with natural attrition; making a few new hires, or organizing a corporate retreat is not the solution either. This has to be taken head-on and should be a company’s immediate priority, even it means investing resources: time, money, people. However, in order for it to pay off, everyone must get behind it.
The HR team has to take a lead on this and work towards creating a plan to improve the organizational culture. Although that doesn’t mean others from the organization can’t participate in the process. Build a core team and keep at it even when the going gets tough. As Roger Enrico (the former CEO of Pepsico) once said, “The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”
Get to the core issues
With a team in place, define what needs to change. This may come from looking at organization goals, mission statements or strategies. What isn’t working? Most of the issues usually come down to communication within the company. The HR team could introduce communication workshops after analyzing which department/s need the training and in what areas per say.
Is a senior in the company bullying others? Is there passive aggressive behaviour? Are there any employees who are not respecting the boundaries of others? Is there avoidance? It will take time to dig into the issues and determine the source(s).
It’s also important to determine what the non-negotiables are. This will mean making some hard decisions. Long-term employees who don’t fit the organization standards going forward may be moved to other roles or asked to leave. Certain ways things have “always been done” may also have to be changed. It’s important to know what the desired outcome is so that rules can be established before starting a program for change.
Accept that the process you are about to engage in is going to take time. Months to years. Change is hard for everyone and it will be bumpy. Set up a plan to reflect, assess and correct the plan as part of building it. Measuring the results is as important as creating solutions.
When building the plan, try to link accountability to the values and goals of the organization. Human resources training in BC programs teaches that employees won’t change simply “because they have to.” They need to know they are part of something bigger and understand how their actions will improve the outcomes of the company.
Everyone Must Play Along
One of the biggest challenges in a corporate culture is when senior management is responsible for some of the problems. Sometimes those in charge think that everyone else should follow a set of rules but since they are management, they get a “pass” to disregard those same rules. This can never be the case. Employees are always watching. They know what leadership looks like. When a plan is implemented it’s even more important for senior management to follow it as their behaviour will inspire others to do the same.
Management must listen at all times, be transparent in their communication and be realistic in their expected outcomes of a corporate culture program. When they turn to their HR team, they expect miracles. But even the best employees with human resources training BC can’t make changes overnight and certainly can’t change the nature of others.
It’s important for management to raise their emotional quotients. They need to focus on people and understand what they are feeling about the organization and about coming to work there. Those conversations must be open, honest, and are best done with someone who has human resource management diploma in the room to track what’s happening. HR teams know how to spot culture issues and can provide guidance to employees, departments and managers.
It’s All About the People
People make up a culture. Finding the right people who fit your culture, while retraining your older employees is critical to making your culture better. Listening, sharing and ensuring everyone is respected and feels like the part of a team is essential.
Let employees create relationships within the organization. Allow them to collaborate, communicate and advocate for a better culture as part of the program to make the change. You’ll be amazed by what people can do to improve a situation when given the power to do so.
What have been some of the HR challenges at your workplace? Share them in the comments below and let’s start a conversation.