5 indicators your corporate culture may not be as strong as you think

Now more than ever, companies are understanding the value of corporate culture in everything from boosting employee morale to engaging in more successful executive search and recruitment.

But despite this increasingly widespread awareness, many firms still fail at perpetuating workplace environments that further productivity, foster a sense of community, encourage innovation and ultimately make people excited to be working for the company.

Part of the reason for this state of affairs is the fact that executives sometimes think they’re deploying culture-boosting initiatives when in reality, their efforts are having little effect – and, in some cases, might even act as turn-offs to the employees they’re trying to rally. Is your company making any of these common mistakes?

1) A lackluster or nonexistent mission statement

A corporate mission statement should embody everything a firm is about: Its goals, values and reason for existing.

“It is a statement that defines the direction of the company, everything from business development to new employee orientation,” wrote Chuck Longanecker for Entrepreneur. “The company’s core values and shared beliefs are the soul of a company and its foundation for outstanding company culture.”

If your mission statement is dull, vague or altogether absent, how are your employees meant to get fired up about their jobs or develop any allegiance to the company for which they work?

2) Culture ends at the office door

People who work for firms with great corporate cultures shouldn’t want to “leave work at work” at the end of the day. Rather, they should be excited about spending time with colleagues in a social setting, telling family and friends about the perks of being employed by the company and even engaging in volunteering or community outreach with their co-workers.

Next time you think about ordering in lunch for the office, why not switch things up and take everyone to a restaurant, or book an event room and make a night of it.

3) Hiring is based on résumé, not personality

Skills and experience aren’t the only things you should be looking for during the process of employee and executive recruiting. Of course, you don’t want to onboard an IT administrator or chief information officer who doesn’t know how to turn on a computer, but you should also gauge a candidate’s cultural fit, an aspect that’s often overlooked.

A study by culture management platform company RoundPegg found that newly onboarded workers who were a good fit with their firm’s culture were more than one-quarter (27.2 percent) less likely to leave the organization within their first 18 months of employment. A RoundPegg case study detailed how, by assessing the values and motivations of the people employed by one of its clients, it was able to determine which questions to ask during the interview process to ensure a candidate would be a good cultural fit for the firm.

4) You offer perks… but leave it at that

Video game systems in the break room, Donut Wednesdays and permission to leave early on Fridays are examples of perks that, while undoubtedly appreciated by employees, shouldn’t be deployed as a company’s sole culture-boosting effort.

“Culture does not come from perks, it’s rooted in a shared philosophy that brings your people together,” wrote Entrepreneur’s Longanecker. “Perks are used to empower your culture by supporting the company philosophy.”

In a separate piece for Entrepreneur, Burton Goldfield, president and CEO of TriNet, noted that “workplace culture is about more than providing snacks or offering abbreviated hours during the summer months. Culture is how employees describe where they work, understand the business and see themselves as part of the organization.”

5) You don’t push the envelope

No firm wants to dedicate time, money and manpower to a project that ultimately ends up being little more than a massive flop, but sometimes the biggest risks turn into the greatest successes. If you stifle your employees by demanding they think inside the box and don’t take risks, you’re preventing your company from reaping the benefits of one of those lightning-bolt moments that have resulted in some of the greatest inventions of our time. Also, employee morale will likely suffer as a result of such constraints, and if you’re not careful, you might see your top talent decamping for a rival that will give them more room to innovate.

Executives who don’t understand why their efforts to boost company culture haven’t paid stronger dividends in terms of lowered turnover, higher engagement and increased performance might want to take a look at their current initiatives. This is especially the case if they expect workers to be inspired by a lackluster mission statement, fail to extend corporate culture beyond the office, overlook cultural fit when hiring, place too much importance on perks or hinder innovation.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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