You know how it feels when everything and everyone at your organization is in sync. Projects move ahead smoothly, team members collaborate to deliver wins for clients, and great new ideas for improving the business seem to come up all the time. Cultural alignment — the process of aligning your organization’s culture, values, and goals with its people — is a key part of the recipe for business success. But a disconnect between your company and the team members who make it run can undermine the strong foundations it took your organization so long to build.
Developing cultural alignment doesn’t happen by accident, especially as your business grows larger. Start building alignment across your workforce today with the information and best practices below.
The power of cultural alignment
Culture encompasses all of the values, expectations, and practices that guide team members daily and make your organization what it is. Every company has its own culture, whether it tries to actively shape it or not. But whether employees believe in that culture — and whether the culture is worth believing in — is a different matter entirely. Gartner found that only 24% of employees say culture impacts the way they work, while only 31% of HR leaders believe their company’s culture drives business performance.
This is where cultural alignment comes in. The same Gartner study found that alignment between an organization’s workforce and its culture can lead to up to 9% better performance against revenue goals, improve employee performance by up to 22%, and lead to up to 16% better reputation outcomes for the company. Connecting employees across your organization to its culture on an individual level establishes a common understanding of what your company is trying to achieve and the best ways to achieve it.
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How to build cultural alignment
There are many ways to improve cultural alignment at your organization. Here are a few of the best.
Recognize the behavior your organization wants to see
When you’re recognized for doing something specific at work, you remember, and the praise motivates you to do it again. Achievers has found that what gets recognized gets repeated: 92% of employees say they’re more likely to repeat an action they’re recognized for. Showing appreciation for behavior that lines up with your ideal organizational culture is a great way to support alignment.
Of course, opportunities to provide recognition are easy to miss — especially with team members spending more and more time working remotely. That’s why your organization should make recognition as easy, accessible, and engaging as possible. Try a mobile-friendly employee recognition platform that enables employees to say thank you however they want, whenever they want. Look for a platform that lets your company provide reward points team members can include with their messages of appreciation and the recipients can then redeem for great rewards they actually find meaningful. Building a top-notch recognition experience that everyone actively participates in helps make cultural alignment an organic, self-reinforcing cycle.
Support employee voice to discover areas of disconnect
Most employees are more than happy to tell your company if and why they feel disconnected from its culture and values — but only if they feel safe doing so. Ensure that employees can confidently exercise their voice in any circumstance by providing anonymous, easy-to-use feedback channels. These include frequent pulse surveys and intelligent HR chatbots, both of which are included in some modern employee engagement platforms. When team members regularly provide feedback about areas where they see room for improvement, your organization can quickly act to address issues that might otherwise continue to hinder cultural alignment.
Create a meaningful set of company values — and live by them
Company values are a key part of culture at any organization. They’re the reason your company does what it does, serving as guiding principles that should shape everything from enterprise-level strategy to individual interactions with customers. A great set of company values are easy for team members to get behind, boosting alignment throughout the business. Inconsistent or uninspiring values, on the other hand, can serve as a major roadblock to aligning employees and organizational culture.
Your company can create a great set of values by developing a concise, direct statement that lays out your organization’s internal and external goals in clear, understandable language. And avoid mirroring the values of another company too closely. Instead, focus on what makes your organization truly unique. Then communicate those values throughout the entire company and train leaders on how to exemplify them on a daily basis. Other team members will soon follow suit.
Build a culture of trust and psychological safety
If employees don’t trust your company to treat them fairly and let them be their true selves, cultural alignment is an impossibility. After all, how can employees align with an organization where they don’t feel safe or welcome? Instill a culture of listening, especially to feedback employees provide to managers and other leaders. Your organization should also practice transparency in both the little things and major business decisions while striving to make a diverse, inclusive workplace a reality. When employees view managers as coaches rather than obstacles and know they can express themselves freely without fear of repercussion, your organization has successfully built a culture of psychological safety.
Hire for culture and center culture in the onboarding process
The types of team members your company hires go a long way towards determining cultural alignment. If your organization is bringing on employees with the right skills but an outlook or attitude that doesn’t fit, it’s setting up both them and itself for failure. Hire for culture by looking for employees who are genuinely excited about your organization’s culture, and keep culture front and center during the entire onboarding process.
Establish cultural alignment with Achievers
Building cultural alignment is a marathon, not a sprint. To ensure your organization doesn’t tap out along the way, look for help in the form of a modern software solution focused on enhancing culture and the employee experience. The Achievers Employee Experience Platform is just that. It helps activate culture and make employees feel truly valued and heard through facilitating frequent, organization-wide recognition and enabling your company to collect and act on employee feedback.