Unite teams around why your organization does what it does—even when everyone is leaving the office.
Culture. Today, it’s a buzzword of epic proportions.
It’s no secret that organizations are working harder than ever to establish enthralling cultures that appeal to employees of all kinds—those they already have, as well as those they want. From DE&I initiatives, flexible work schedules, work-from-anywhere compatibility, and a strong focus on physical, mental and emotional well-being—the list is long.
But the results of these efforts are felt well beyond the confines of an internal team. They find their way into our marketing efforts, extending to the relationships a brand has with its consumers, as well as those an agency has with each of its clients. Because of this, pushing culture and related initiatives simply isn’t enough. Fostering relationships that lead to recruiting and retaining top talent requires shifting your focus.
Learn to live your purpose
This means realizing what you do is vastly different from why you do it. However, understanding the purpose of your organization still isn’t quite enough. People need a reason to have some skin in the game, which means they need to know what that purpose means to—or has to do with—them. To support this fact, in the last five editions of Gallagher’s State of the Sector Report, “Engaging people around purpose, strategy and values,” is a top priority for more than 50% of the organizations they surveyed globally.
Coming from someone who has run the gamut of professional working environments, having worked everywhere from corporate America, to freelance and agency gigs, both in the office full-time and 100% remote (I currently work five states and some 20 hours away from my employer’s headquarters), purpose matters. In each role I’ve held, my engagement with and feeling of investment in a given organization was a direct reflection of how I felt my work (and myself, personally) was tied to why I was in the role I was in.
It comes down to authentic belonging.
What does that mean?
It means when employees question why they’re with an organization, why they continue to show up, stick around and give of their time and talent, they have an answer. One they stand behind.
This is fundamental to creating a purposeful culture able to recruit and, more importantly, retain top talent. Want to manifest this culture of inclusion in your own workplace? Give these tips a try:
Have meaningful conversations. Take interest in your teams, both as employees and as people. This means checking in regularly to ask how things are going and connect on how individuals are progressing with their goals both personally and professionally. This helps employees feel appreciated, seen and trusted at work, which—lucky for you—will likely equate to greater productivity and creativity in the office.
Create and inspire opportunities to connect. In hybrid and virtual environments, gone are many of the chances to spontaneously interact with others throughout the day. Instead, we’re now forced to break down barriers to create those opportunities ourselves, whenever we can. akhia communications (and most of its employees) is in Northern Ohio. I live a bit farther North (and West) in North Dakota. Things like spontaneous virtual watercoolers, Culture Club events that deliver creative ways to engage, surprise and delight, along with contests and other opportunities to voluntarily collaborate present opportunities to have my voice heard and creativity showcased. Those occurrences (think creating concepts behind the agency’s holiday card, weekly Kahoot! games, gift cards for participating in the annual pumpkin decorating contest, beer to drink during a themed holiday Teams event, etc.) also give me chances to connect with my teammates and the business.
Allow everyone to contribute to the workplace culture and overall experience. As mentioned, establishing a sense of belonging and trust in who they work with every day is huge in engaging and retaining employees. With remote work opportunities becoming more prevalent and accessible, it’s that much easier for top talent to be poached. Tailoring your workplace to the needs of everyone working there demonstrates a genuine sense of care – that your business isn’t one-size-fits-all and each individual’s needs matter. The biggest win for you? Your teams feel more vested and like they have more ownership of practices and policies, since they were involved in the creation and ideation.
Give kudos where kudos are due. When someone embodies your organization’s purpose or core values, acknowledge it. Not only will you be reinforcing desired behavior and providing a shining example for others to emulate, but staff will recognize their efforts are valued, appreciated and worth celebrating. By leaning on and celebrating the collective brain pool at your organization, you’ll also be taking great strides toward a more inclusive culture that values everyone’s input.
Authenticity goes a long way toward helping your organization live its purpose and engage employees with it as well. Exercising genuine care and support ensures that purpose remains a core focus, so teams are reminded regularly of why they do what they do – and why they choose to do so with you.
Tying the work of individual employees to the success of the greater organization results in a measurable, quantifiable difference in how valued employees feel, deepening their connection and commitment to you as an employer.