The Six Pillars of Vibrant Workplace Culture
Forward-thinking CEOs understand one thing that others don’t, creating a vibrant employee experience is the number one contributor to organisational success.
Never before has a workforce demanded that cultural elements such as diversity and inclusion, health and well-being, flexibility, workspace design, enhanced collaboration and innovation are all in place for them to do their best work.
Colin D Ellis, a culture change expert, an award-winning international speaker and best-selling author of ‘Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work’ believes CEOs need to be more active in their approach to this cultural evolution.
For too long CEOs have tried to take the easy route to culture. Bringing consultants in to define the culture, restructures, going open plan or implementing the latest silver bullet method (it’s currently ‘agile’) have all been attempted and whilst they may have provided a short-term improvement, long term sustainability has been missing.
The rise of agile as the latest quick-fix approach to cultural evolution will fail as so many methods have failed before it e.g. Six Sigma, ISO9000, PRINCE2 and so on. None of these addressed the foundational elements of culture and didn’t put it’s definition in the hands of the only people that can change it, the staff.
The importance of culture
Culture pervades through everything that’s done on a day-to-day basis, from the behaviour of senior leaders in large global organisations to the way that a sports team trains for a game at the weekend. It dictates where people sit in a classroom, how meetings are run in an office, how decisions are made on a ship, how construction projects are delivered, how orchestras play together and how clothes are marketed online. And it belongs to everyone.
When time and effort is allowed for the staff to define what a vibrant culture looks like it can produce the following benefits:
- Increased productivity
- Higher sales
- Improved safety
- Higher engagement
- Reduced operating costs
- Faster time to market
Where culture work isn’t undertaken, then the organisation risks stagnation and stagnant cultures – according to Gallup in their State of the American Workforce survey – cost US businesses alone over $500bn per year!
What are the six pillars of culture?
Culture change work is often avoided because of the perceived complexity or unknowns of it. Yet cultures will evolve on a day-to-day basis regardless, so it’s important to declare it as a priority and get cracking. But where to start?
Culture change work is often avoided because of the perceived complexity or unknowns of it.
Here are the six pillars of vibrant workplace culture:
Personality and Communication
The way into any culture is through its people and the way that they communicate with each other. Personality surveys can be an effective mechanism for improving empathy and communication, however, all too often they put people in boxes and create only short-term interest rather than improved self-awareness
At the heart of vibrant cultures is an aspirational statement of the future. A short but powerful statement that inspires those that work within the organisation and talent from outside. It’s achievable at a stretch and sets the tone for the strategic intent.
When done well, values can be an incredible asset to an organisation, but it’s important that they’re not used as a weapon. Identifying and defining them is an important exercise and staying true to them requires courage and determination.
It’s crucial that the behaviours expected of everyone within a culture are known and understood because only then can you reset expectations and hold people to them. Diversity and inclusion, performance management and recognition and reward are important tools for upholding what’s been agreed.
The word collaboration is used frequently in cultures all around the world, but all too often seems to mean ‘meeting’. When done well collaboration makes good uses of technology, encourages streamlined process and provides workspaces where everyone can do their best work.
Without new ideas and challenging existing cultural norms, many organisations risk becoming the next Kodak. Innovation doesn’t belong in a special hub with special people, it lives inside everyone and all they need is the time to use data to be creative and learn quickly from failure.
Making it stick
Culture evolution involves a systemic change of almost everything within an organisation, but with the right level of commitment and determination from senior managers and staff, it’s absolutely achievable. By ensuring that each of the six pillars are addressed by those that are part of the culture and by role modelling the behaviours expected of them, CEOs can send a message that employee experience is truly the most important thing. With a continual focus on culture from this point, CEOs will ensure that they never have to run a culture program or implement the latest method ever again.