Creating a culture by design


Culture is more than just a boardroom buzzword. It is a “must-have” rather than a “nice to have” for today’s companies.

In the same way that marketing sets the table for sales, culture sets the table for recruiting and retaining top talent. It also plays a critical role in the long-term performance of a company.

But a strong culture doesn’t just happen by accident. It requires thoughtful planning and purposeful design. Let’s take a closer look at how executives should approach this process.

Defining culture and diagnosing problems

Culture is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your organization unique. It is the sum of your company’s values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes.

How do you know if your culture is problematic? Look for the symptoms: If you have high turnover in your ranks, you probably have cultural issues. If your open positions are hard to fill or you find yourself selecting from a limited pool of qualified candidates, again, you probably have cultural issues—along with a weak or non-existent employment brand.

You can address these issues, or avoid them altogether, by creating a culture by design. Here are two ways to do that.

Become “simply irresistible”

According to Bersin—a division of Deloitte—employers are “simply irresistible” to employees when they offer the following:

  • meaningful work
  • great management
  • fantastic environment
  • growth opportunity
  • trust in leadership

Consider how well your company delivers on each of these points. Ask yourself, what do your employees think? What can you improve upon? How can you use your strength in these areas to differentiate yourself? How can you offer a compelling value proposition to current and prospective employees?

Understand and boost engagement levels

Remember: It’s an employee’s market, and employees want much more than just a job from you. They want an experience that keeps them engaged in your company and motivated to work for you.

There are several tools you can use to measure employee engagement. For example, the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey can help you determine aspects of employee engagement that link to critical business outcomes, such as profitability, productivity, turnover and safety.

Additionally, you might consider posing the Net Promoter Score question (i.e., “How likely is it that you would recommend [company X] to a friend or colleague?”) to your employees to determine their willingness to recommend you as an employer. This question can serve as a proxy for employee satisfaction and loyalty to your company.

After you ask these tough questions, prepare for some tough answers. Your employees may bring up issues that you’ll have to address in order to build a strong culture.

Read more about Culture: Market your strong employment brand to attract top talent

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