The Secret to Creating a Culture That Sticks

By Julia Cox
on Mar 20, 2018 10:45:00 AM


After defining the type of culture you want at your company, how do you reinforce, and drive, that culture? Putting it into practice and making sure it stays healthy aren’t as straightforward as posting your cultural values on the office bulletin board and hoping they stick. In fact, Deloitte found that only 28% of leaders feel they actually understand their culture, which further complicates the question of how to reinforce culture.

Since culture is unique to each organization, the way to maintain it will vary, but there are three approaches that can be integrated into your current practices.

Set Clear Expectations—Onboarding

From day one your company should set the tone for employees. Not only do employees need clear expectations around their job responsibilities and output, but they also need to thoroughly understand your company’s culture. So be sure to integrate your values when you build an onboarding process. But remember, simply explaining what those values are, without sharing why they’re a part of your culture’s foundation, won’t help them stick.

After the expectation is set, reinforce those values by including related onboarding action items to complete. For example, if your company values continuous feedback, then require new employees to give their first piece of feedback after the first week. This sets the tone and helps employees get in the swing of things.

Celebrate the Individual—Recognition & Rewards

Recognizing employees for a job well-done has two main benefits: reinforcing values and retaining top talent. Gallup’s research on employee recognition revealed employees are twice as likely to say they’ll leave a company if they aren’t receiving adequate recognition. The simple act of recognizing employees for their contributions makes them feel valuable, and helps them understand which behaviors to continue. If employees see co-workers being recognized for certain behaviors that reinforce your company’s values then they will be more likely to mimic those behaviors.

Gallup also found that the most effective recognition is honest, authentic and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized. Regularly celebrating employees in a way that feels meaningful and genuine to them can come in many different forms. Some companies will opt to issue rewards, bonuses, or privileges, while other companies will place more emphasis on public or private praise. Whatever practice you implement, you can maximize impact by making recognition timely, relevant, and meaningful.

Get Employees Involved—Advocates

One way to get buy-in for new programs is by identifying and enlisting champions. The individuals in your organization that champion new initiatives can positively influence and shape employee sentiment. Many of us dislike change, and will actively avoid it until enough people around us adopt the new way. Creating change advocates amongst some of your employees gets the ball rolling and mitigates push back.

This approach is also beneficial because it shines a light on individuals that have influence within your organization. Creating strong working relationships with this group of employees is invaluable when gathering feedback about the programs you already have—or hope to have—in place, and how employees are reacting to those programs. Active employee participation makes employees feel heard, and can influence HR’s culture shaping efforts.

Interested in learning more about HR’s ability to influence company culture? Check out Zugata’s recent webinar.



Topics: People Intelligence

Author: Julia Cox

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