webinar recap: 4 epic corporate culture fails (and how to overcome them)

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It’s easy to get corporate culture wrong, but well worth the effort to get it right. So says our latest webinar, presented by our Manager of Research Services, Christina Chau, and Creative Director, Chris Drysdale. Diving into the deep end of corporate culture, Christina and Chris shared research, anecdotes, and insights with the goal of helping HR Execs everywhere dodge the most damaging pitfalls of creating a company culture.

Setting the tone, Christina started the webinar with a heartwarming story of Moses, a hospital custodian who went above and beyond his job description to bring hope to the young patients whose rooms he cleaned. No one told him to, he just did it because he knew what it meant to the kids. And because the culture of the hospital encouraged it.

Moving into the meat of the presentation, Chris and Christina introduced the first epic corporate culture fail:

#1. Not knowing where you want to go

What do you want your company to be known for? Christina began by discussing the evolving role of HR over the years, going from processes and systems to empowerment and engagement.

Chris then jumped in to remind the audience that culture is not made of perks. True culture comes from purpose. Without a clear purpose that employees can believe in (and engage with), your corporate culture will trip and fall before it even starts.

He then pitched things back to Christina, who covered findings from the O.C. Tanner Institute’s own primary research, including the results from a study asking employees where innovation should come from. Surprise surprise, upper management said themselves, while employees said everyone should be expected to innovate.

#2. Chasing the wrong thing

In the quest for greatness, most companies are chasing the same things: employee satisfaction, happiness, and engagement. But are they going about it in all the wrong ways? Chris flips common conceptions on their head by suggesting that instead of chasing all these things to get to greatness, companies should be going after greatness itself. And that in the pursuit of meaningful, innovative work, employees will feel satisfied, happy, and engaged. As Chris rather eloquently put it, “the act of inviting people to do great work is inherently engaging.” In other words, create a culture of greatness and everything else will follow.

#3. Expecting it to happen overnight

This seems obvious, but it’s hard to follow in practice. After all, when you make big changes to your culture, you’ll expect there to be big results. There will be, of course, but as Chris reiterated, you need to embrace the journey.

Christina then brought up one of the most compelling findings about this point: 48% of admins said that their most effective program has been implemented for longer than 5 years. That’s likely because they had the time to track their progress as they went and adjust the program accordingly. Because building a culture of greatness is too important to rush.

#4. Not getting your people on board

There are three things that are essential to making sure all that work on your culture has the impact you want, but they can all be summed up in one word: communication. Big changes in culture can’t just be handed down from the top, they need to be communicated to everyone in the company. And not just the how—the why is just as important. If employees are going to align with your new culture and connect with its values and goals, they need to know the reasoning that went into changing it.

After their call for communication, Chris and Christina went on to cover the importance (and many benefits) recognition plays in creating cultures of greatness. One of the most compelling facts was that performance recognition for great work impacts employee engagement at a rate of more than 2 to 1. They then wrapped up the topic with a quick case study of PepsiCo’s investment in recognition, which allowed the multinational brand to, among other things, reduce turnover and increase retention.

The webinar ended with a spirited Q&A that covering some of the more practical aspects of creating corporate culture. Both Chris and Christina used their considerable experience in the recognition and engagement industry to field questions about the efficacy of quick culture fixes, defining “greatness,” and creating brand ambassadors out of ex-employees.

Listen to the full webinar recording here

By andrew scarcella
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