The Link Between Company Culture and Employee Experience

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Company culture and employee experience are completely intertwined – you can’t have a great employee experience without a great company culture, and a great company culture generally results in a great employee experience. Together they are the foundation for employee satisfaction, which leads to increased employee retention and greater productivity – and most of all a happier workforce!

Company culture is comprised of shared beliefs, values, ethics, practices, goals, trust and behaviors that support a common company mission and vision. It manifests in the ways in which your employees engage with one another and how they collaborate, and it influences what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace. Simply stated, company culture is the organization’s unique identity or personality.

How is company culture established?

Company culture usually starts with your founder’s beliefs and values, it is then maintained through leadership, and passed down and reinforced through a number of initiatives that include:

  • Hiring applicants who share these same beliefs and values
  • Onboarding that emphasizes the organization’s key values and desired employee behaviors
  • Rewards and promotions that recognize employees who exemplify the company’s values
  • Communications that clearly articulate organizational culture, with transparency and open-door policies that build trust throughout the workplace

In many organizations, HR is the conduit of company culture, through policies, hiring practices and the handling of employee issues, complaints and behaviors. As a major influencer of company culture, HR’s role includes:

  • Identifying candidates whose values align with the company’s established values
  • Keeping the company’s values, mission and vision front and center in every employee’s mind
  • Establishing trust through transparent practices, policies and procedures that are administered equitably throughout the organization
  • Assessing the overall employee experiences of company culture through surveys that encourage and promote honest and open feedback
  • Recognizing “culture carriers” within the organization who support and demonstrate commitment to your company culture
  • Nurturing a workplace environment where employees can thrive, and the company can prosper

Maintaining a strong company culture not only benefits employees but also the company and its customers as well. BambooHR’s culture survey found that 87% of executives and HR professionals said company culture significantly supports their business goals, and 94% said it’s important to their organization’s success. Companies simply can’t afford to get this wrong when so much is riding on it.

6 common attributes of a great company culture

There are many opinions about what constitutes a great company culture, but here are six generally agreed-upon cultural traits that contribute to a positive company culture:

  1. Inclusivity – employees feel like they belong and are accepted for who they are
  2. Diversity – the workforce is not made up of a bunch of “cookie cutter“ individuals; rather, it is made up of unique individuals with different skills, ideas and experiences
  3. Flexibility – how, when and where the work gets done is less important than the fact that it actually does get done on time and the work product meets or exceeds expectations
  4. Equality – everyone is treated fairly, from the CEO down to the administrative assistant and all levels in between. Grievances and unacceptable behaviors are treated in the same way no matter who is involved. Biases and any form of discrimination are not tolerated.
  5. Trust – whether it’s trusting that remote workers are actually working or having a manager who is truly open to an employee’s opinions and ideas, trust is a critical attribute of a positive employee culture. Without it, authentic relationships are impossible to cultivate.
  6. Genuine concern – if the last several years have taught us anything at all, caring and empathy go a long way to creating a culture where people want to work. There is increased compassion and tolerance for the roles of working parents, employees taking leaves of absence and mental health issues that seem to have affected so many employees.

While you surely could add to this list of characteristics that enhance company culture, it’s just as important to realize what doesn’t contribute to company culture – perks like free coffee, free lunches and happy hours. These are nice, but they won’t keep employees from leaving f your work environment is toxic.

How company culture influences employee experience

Employee experience is made up of interactions in the workplace that take place during the different stages of the employee lifecycle, from hire to exit.

Why is employee experience important? When it’s positive, employers find it easier to attract and retain top talent, productivity is greater and employees are happier. According to a Jobvite survey, 30% of new employees leave their companies within the first 90 days. The reasons?

  • 43% say the role didn’t meet the expectations of the job as it was laid out for them
  • 34% report that a single incident caused them to leave
  • 32% blame the company culture

A positive work culture increases employee engagement and creates an environment in which people want to go to work. Additionally, a strong company culture promotes:

  • Opportunities for employees to advance as a result of their work product
  • Clear and open communication channels with management
  • A sense of purpose where each employee feels valued for their contributions
  • An amazing onboarding experience that helps the employee feel “part of” from day 1
  • Opportunities to lead – a project, a brainstorm session or an employee resource group
  • Collaboration where each team member works as part of the whole to achieve goals
  • Rewards in terms of promotions and raises for stellar performance
  • Employee satisfaction and happiness. They want to stay because they genuinely like and appreciate the company that they work for.

Companies benefit as well from providing a great employee experience. Research from MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) shows that companies with the best employee experience see the following business benefits:

  • Double the customer satisfaction
  • Twice the innovation in terms of percentage of revenues from new products and services
  • 25% greater profitability compared to competitors

Company culture that leads to an all-around fantastic employee experience should be a top priority for all organizations.

How can you find out what employees think about your company culture? You can send out regular surveys to determine employees’ overall levels of satisfaction. If you find that there are glaring issues or matters that demand immediate attention, you’d be wise to correct them before they get worse and you start to lose people. Appoint a task force of employees from different departments and at different levels to spearhead remediation efforts. This gesture demonstrates that you really care about your company culture and you want to be known as a great company to work for.

Looking for new talent to become part of your team and enjoy the great employee experience you offer? We’d love to be AtWork for YOU! Visit atwork.com/locations to find an office near you.

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