More and more businesses are thinking about culture. Employers are starting to recognise that company culture has a big role to play when it comes to organisational success and that being ‘a great place to work’ is actually one of the top perks sought after by employees.
Culture is powerful. It directly impacts employee engagement, productivity, and the recruitment and retention of top talent.
But change doesn’t happen overnight and making significant culture shifts is arguably one of the most difficult challenges that leadership face.
We set ourselves a challenge at Westfield Health: we wanted to become a top employer, a place with ambitious targets fuelled by putting wellbeing at the top of the agenda.
Just a year later, the positive changes to our culture along with our determination and commitment to developing our people has been recognised with the Investors in People (IiP) Gold accreditation.
We’re incredibly proud of how far we’ve come and excited where this journey will take us.
Whether you’re aiming for IiP gold accreditation or just taking your first steps in culture change, our Head of Culture & Engagement, Kate Firth, shares the five key things that have helped us successfully facilitate culture change:
1. A shared sense of purpose and direction
It’s so important for employees at every level of the organisation to have visibility on how their role fits into the big picture; understanding why their role matters makes work much more meaningful.
To make this happen, everybody in the organisation needs a clear understanding of the organisation’s purpose and the direction the business is taking. This helps them understand the part they can play in achieving that vision.
Defining a clear, strong mission statement in dialogue with your employees helps you link back to this sense of purpose when talking about organisational goals. Individual employees can them their personal objectives to the long-term vision.
When employees feel a personal connection with your vision and goals, you’ll start to see a more engaged and committed workforce.
2. A sense of collaboration and voice
Regardless of role, department or level, collaboration from across the company is key to success. Engagement becomes stronger when employees feel they can play an active role in shaping and delivering strategy.
Everybody in the organisation needs to have a voice and, more importantly, know that it is being heard. By actively seeking feedback and asking the right questions, you can get to the bottom of what’s working and what’s not.
At Westfield Health, we’ve worked hard to gather feedback at all levels through employee working groups, visible and approachable leaders and two-way communication. This has proven to be a key driver to success.
3. A healthy working environment
It’s important to create a working environment where employees can be creative and have fun. Trust is key to this – between all colleagues, at all levels.
Senior leaders play a crucial role and set the tone. Encouraging open and honest conversations helps to create a more positive environment where it’s safe for employees to speak out, challenge each other constructively and learn from mistakes.
Employees also need to have time for development. Encouraging staff to learn and further grow their skills not only creates a high-performing workforce but boosts job satisfaction as people continue to develop in their roles.
4. An evidence-based approach
One of the big tests for getting gold accreditation is demonstrating an evidence-based approach. IiP require you to show that you are gathering data to inform your people practices, understand the impact that these have on business performance and to continually evaluate and evolve, making changes as you go.
Measurement isn’t new when it comes to people management. However, when it comes to company culture, surveys and employee engagement data alone aren’t enough. This data often tells you what’s happening, but not why. You need to dig deeper – is this programme of work achieving change on an individual level? Is this change starting to become visible and take hold?
You can start to build a better picture by taking time to engage in dialogue, asking great questions, and listening. Surveys and working groups are tools that we have used to do this, and team meetings, coaching and 1:1 chats give qualitative insights.
5. An authentic vision and leadership that role models this
All too often, cultural change and employee engagement are seen as HR’s responsibility. However, it belongs to everybody within the organisation with leadership playing a critical role.
To be successful, organisational change requires leaders who understand and get behind all the above components and initiatives.
This level of commitment helps link everyday culture and behaviours to the broader business strategy. Visible support from senior leaders also creates the psychological permissions for employees to mirror those behaviours and helps ensure initiatives are sustained.
By investing in cultural change and following the above steps, you’ll start to see a more engaged and committed workforce that are invested in what you do and where your organisation is going.
To learn more about how to plan and deliver a cultural change programme, take a look at our CPD-accredited course on cultural change.