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Company Culture

Why Work Culture Directly Impacts Employee Performance

A recent study from researchers at the University of Warwick, cited by Entrepreneur magazine, revealed that happiness makes people 12% more productive. Said the authors of the study, Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick:

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%… Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.” Added Dr. Sgroi: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

What contributes to this happiness? There can be many factors – from family life, to favorite activities, even literature, music, or movies – but work culture can also play a major role in employee happiness. Work culture is a collective term for a handful of the most important factors that are under an employer’s control, and as such, it is highly relevant for every manager. The underpinnings of a strong company culture include factors related to an employee’s physical health, emotional well-being, mental clarity, and can help give their work a greater sense of meaning. Work culture is rooted in the beliefs and values that an organization establishes, and when these are clearly communicated throughout the organization, they can help boost employee engagement and motivation. Here’s why:

Worker trust is linked with shared company culture

Optimal employee performance depends on the ability of employees to trust their organization. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Stephen Covey and Douglas Conant assert that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. To truly build a company culture around the key value of trust, it is required to, “personally celebrate employees for their contributions.” This climate of trust, supported by recognition, results in a positive company culture, which in turn solidifies your financial standing. Trust can also be established during periodic employee performance reviews, when managers get the chance to listen to their employees and learn what makes them happy, including what they want in a positive company culture.

“Why we work determines how well we work”

This axiom was presented by researchers who studied scores of workers and companies worldwide. If people perceive underlying purpose in the work they do, they perform better. One example given by the authors had two groups of workers that were assigned to analyze medical images. The group that was told the images contained cancer cells spent more time and did higher quality work than the control group who were not given any context for the task. When you convey the importance and coherence of your company’s purpose, you help your employees to feel that their work has meaning. Your company’s cultural values and mission statements play a larger role than you think. Reinforcing cultural values that resonate with your employees on a personal level directly impacts their motivation and drive to perform better at work.

A strong work culture balances out corporate change

“Fast-paced change, uncertainty, and volatility are the lexicon of our work lives,” according to Peter Cheese, the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Corporations are changing fast in order to keep up with emerging trends, and they need their employees to be agile as well. A strong organizational culture keeps everyone aligned and engaged, so that riding out changes becomes a mutually shared effort rather than a divisive or damaging force. When employees feel left out of the loop or are unaware of the company’s bigger picture, their performance and motivation suffers as a result. Keep your employees informed on changes happening within the organization, so they know what’s ahead for the business and the impact their role has in all of it.

Industry research on the importance of a positive work culture reveals that 87% of organizations agree that culture and employee engagement are among their most urgent challenges. To learn more about developing your company culture, download Achievers’ e-book: All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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The State of Employee Engagement

The Current State of Employee Engagement and How to Make It Better

How happy and engaged are our employees? It’s an important question that every business should want to know the answer to. We hate to break it to you, but according to our latest employee survey, 51% of employees are not happy at work. What does that mean for your business? The less happy and engaged your employees are, the less productive your business will be as a whole. Start focusing on how to make your employees more engaged for better business outcomes. Take at a look at the current state of employee engagement and see what you can do to make it better.

Focus on your mission and vision
Greatness Infographic Mission and Vision

It’s surprising that a whopping 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission. A mission and vision statement is essentially a summary of the aims, values and direction of your company. Knowing and embracing the company’s mission helps provide employees with a sense of purpose and with motivation to succeed. But if your employees aren’t aligned to, or even aware of, your company’s mission and vision, how can you expect them to move forward as a whole towards the same goals? Focus on your company’s mission and vision, and start strategizing on how to build more awareness of those core, guiding principles within your organization.

Emphasize shared cultural values
Greatness Infographic Culture

Not only are a majority of employees unaware of their company’s mission and vision, but apparently they are also oblivious to their company’s cultural values. Values are important because they help define company culture and reflect what an organization ultimately cares about. You want your employees to embrace your company’s values because by having a personal and emotional connection to what they do, they gain a sense of importance and motivation behind their work. But as our research shows, shared culture can only go so far towards improving overall levels of engagement.

Encourage leadership to nurture trust
Greatness Infographic Leadership Statistic

We’ve all heard the saying, “People join companies, but leave bad managers.” One constant that remains as a contributing factor to employee disengagement is poor leadership. Only 45% of employees trust their company’s leadership and half don’t expect to be in their current job just one year from now. This represents an obvious disconnect between employees and their work, and especially between employees and leadership. According to a Careerbuilder.com study cited in a Wharton management blog, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Don’t lose great talent because of a lack of trust in leadership and in their vision for the future. Reassure your employees that your company and leadership team cares about them, as both workers and human beings. Put the emphasis on showing them respect and trust in what they do.

Reward and recognize employees
Greatness Infographic Rewards and Recognition

Results clearly show that employees have a deep desire for employee recognition. A massive 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more. Why is it important to recognize employees for their hard work? According to the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, employees who feel valued by their employer are 60% more likely to be motivated to do their very best at work. A quick recognition, whether from management or a peer, goes a long way and can boost employee engagement by up to 22%. Start recognizing and rewarding your employees for jobs well done and witness the positive impact it makes. Today’s rewards and recognition programs go way beyond tired old plaques and paperweights and should be based on a social media model to encourage the highest levels of adoption and active use. They should link to employees’ existing social networks and other common communications platforms like Slack and Jabber, offer point-based rewards so employees can choose items that are meaningful to them, and most importantly, they should serve to reinforce company values and encourage desired business results.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.