What Is the ROI of Your Culture?
Quick poll: do these statements accurately describe your organization?
- We have close to 100% employee engagement (as in your people literally couldn’t imagine working anywhere else)
- We charge more than our competitors, but still get customers because our work is that good
- We actually attract the best talent in our market (sorry, don’t take HR’s word on this. Look around. Are these people really the best in the business?)
- We’ve won the local “best places to work” competition so many times they asked us to stop entering.
Yeah. Sorry to rub it in. Don’t feel bad, though. Most companies don’t meet these standards.
But some do, and we actually found them in our research. They were from different industries and came in different shapes and sizes, but they had one thing in common: ridiculously strong cultures.
Notice I didn’t say cool cultures or happy cultures. I don’t care if you have beer in the fridge or cater gourmet meals for your employees (though feel free to run with that). I care that your culture is strong, and that what is valued internally actually drives success and delivers exceptional performance.
The good news is, the recipe for a strong culture is not as difficult as you might think.
There are two basic components:
The Base: The 4 Food Groups. All cultures must be rooted in capacities that drive success in today’s business environment (hint: it’s not the capacities that worked fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago). The companies we studied shot out in front by strengthening four key capacities that make sense in today’s world: digital, clear, fluid, and fast. They are the base of a strong culture.
The Secret Sauce: Your Unique Recipe. On top of the base, your culture must support the unique power that drives your success, tailored to your specific context, market, strategy, and business model. We know you’re not Zappos, so don’t think you have to copy their culture. Build one that unlocks your potential. Make sure what is valued internally is sharply aligned with what drives the success of YOUR enterprise. All strong cultures are unique.
So how do you create a strong culture?
That’s also surprisingly (and pleasantly) uncomplicated. And I can even continue with the culinary metaphor:
Step 1: Prep. Figure out what you’ve got, what you need, and get everything ready. You need an honest assessment of your culture–to really make your Base and your Secret Sauce great, you need to start by knowing “what is.”
Step 2: Mix and Shape. Prepare the elements that will come together in the final dish. Make a series of visible short-term changes inside your organization that start moving the needle on culture strength. Better staff meetings, clearer policies, improved collaboration. Pick the low-hanging fruit that will show your people what a strong culture really looks like. I call this “making it real.”
Step 3: Bake it In. Put it all together and start cooking. Leverage your early success by making more fundamental changes to key internal processes like hiring, performance management, budgeting, office layout, and more. When it comes to culture strength, go big or go home. I call this “making it permanent.”
It all starts with your genetic code.
The huge first step that nearly every organization misses is deeply understanding who you are as an organization. Our Workplace Genome™ Mapping process solves that problem. It’s a 15-minute survey (or we’ll map your existing engagement data), and it produces a surprisingly insightful picture of what it’s REALLY like to work at your organization. It includes:
Years of research went into identifying these core elements of how we experience organizations, both internally and externally
64 Building Blocks
Each marker has eight detailed identifying traits—like distribution of power, core value accountability, or information credibility—that help you identify levers for making changes and creating a more powerful workplace.
For each culture marker and building block, the Workplace Genome™ identifies how and where your organization is evolving from the more traditional way of working to what is quickly becoming the future-of-work.
Do you want to know if the Millennial generation will be attracted to and thrive in your organization? The Workplace Genome™ analyzes your culture’s compatibility with this distinct demographic.
Differentiators and Distractors
The culture markers and building blocks that are most strongly and consistently experienced by your workforce should be the ones you proudly base your brand on, while those that are experienced least might present opportunities for culture transformation. The Workplace Genome™ identifies both.
Net Employee Promoter Score
If you want to measure how “engaged” your employees really are, we argue you can do that by getting their response to just one question: “How likely are you to recommend your friends to this company for work.” The Workplace Genome™ produces this important benchmark for you to track your employees’ intent to stay and willingness to put forth discretionary effort.