August 21, 2014

Developing a healthy organisational culture

… through employee engagement and internal communication.

There is little doubt that a positive organisational culture is a vital driver of business success, with elements such as employee engagement and internal communication having a critical part to play, both in the development of a positive culture and in reinforcing the organisation’s purpose, values and core proposition.

Source: Richard W Mosley, Journal of Brand Management 15, 123-134 (November 2007)

However, developing and maintaining a positive culture through effective engagement and communication is challenging, with many interrelated components and activities. That's why we've pulled together a short guide to help you along the way, drawing on our own expertise and the findings of the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) research.

Top tips for maintaining a positive, healthy culture and communicating effectively with your internal stakeholders:

Look for behavioural changes. It is important you monitor the behaviour of your teams – are they becoming disengaged or do they seem less motivated? If they are, it is vital that you address the issue quickly to turn the tide back in your favour by communicating your purpose and values – and putting people at the centre of that.

Questions to consider in analysing the health of your employee culture include:

  • Questions to consider in analysing the health of your employee culture include:
  • Are your recruitment costs rising?
  • Are you ranked as an employer of choice?
  • Are your people leaving after 18 months?
  • Are your employees uncomfortable telling people who they work for?
  • Do you admire competitors’ recruitment advertising?
  • Has your recent acquisition left you with ‘tribes’? Does your workforce lack balance and diversity? Do you have more cynics than optimists?

Be consistent. It’s important your people know why – not just how – you do things. Communicating in a consistent language will help drive that culture home and carry it forward.

Continuity is key. Don’t wait for staff to become disenfranchised before you communicate with them. Create an open dialogue and communicate regularly with your people whether through newsletters or offsite meetings. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you create regular opportunities to remind employees what it means to be part of your team.

Keep your story alive. Tell your employees how you got your business to where it is today and ensure they understand their role in building its future. If people feel they are relied upon and are contributing to the organisation’s success they will feel empowered to go the extra mile, particularly when you’re up against it. Don’t forget to include this as part of the induction process either – it is vital that new starts understand your business from the outset.

Engage. Find ways to keep reinforcing your organisation’s values and purpose. For example, recognise positive behaviour with an award scheme, or use more exciting internal communications channels like video and radio to remind employees what the business is all about.

Identify ambassadors. It’s inevitable that there will be differing levels of engagement among your people, but by seeking out those most dedicated to the vision and values of the company you’ll create a network of internal ambassadors.

Evaluate against your values. Simply communicating your values won’t in itself create a strong culture throughout your business. Measuring performance against your expected attitudes and behaviours during appraisals is a good way of conditioning the minds of the workforce as to what is expected of them.

Reward employee performance. But do it in a way that encourages them to reflect the culture and vision of the company.

Recruit people who share your values. It’s a no-brainer really but it’s easier to train for skills than it is to change a person’s attitude and behaviour so it is vital that you incorporate your values into your recruitment process.

Some key components and activities of the successful employer brand:

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