Invest in culture to ensure employee engagement

Employee engagement results directly from a high-performance organisational culture.

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Engaged employees are highly productive, are able to maintain great relations with the customers, and remain loyal to the organisation. Studies suggest that engaged workers are 21 per cent more productive. Studies also suggest that employee engagement is a direct result of a high-performance culture.

So, what exactly is organisational culture? The way the staff of a company feels about their jobs is reflective of the company’s culture. If the culture of the organisation is strong, employees will also be better aware of what is expected of them and what the organisation’s goals are. It is the culture that forms the basis of the organisation’s commitments, manner of working and the ways adopted to accomplish work. The organisation’s culture gives a good idea of the behaviour of its employees, the values they believe in, their manner of interaction and the workplace practices.

If the culture is that of high performance, all the employees will be working towards accomplishing better results and pursuing clear organisational goals. Employees will have clearly-defined individual goals and responsibilities; the environment will be one based on trust; employees will be encouraged to learn and progress; managers will push their team members to reinvent themselves and grow; workers will be encouraged to move out of their comfort zones, to explore, take up new challenges and reinvent themselves. In high-performance cultures, the employees can be assured of a lot of support and positivity from their managers and the leadership, in general. Everyone around them will be proactive.

Such organisations exhibit a high level of positivity and competitive spirit. This generally keeps them ahead of their competitors.

Employees who work in such a positive, active and charged-up environment day in and day out are bound to start exhibiting the same positivity, eagerness for action and competitive spirit. They will feel comfortable and connected. This is very important for engagement.

Therefore, it will be quite right to first ensure the right culture in the organisation to engage the employees in the long run.

Organisations should first be clear about the culture they wish to follow and then make sure that everyone else is made aware of it. The clearly-defined culture should be communicated to one and all. This will also include the expectations in terms of employee behaviour and performance.

The clearly-defined culture can then be documented in the form of a manual, handbook or presentation, which employees can be made to go through during their onboarding process. This formal document can be revisited several times during meetings, formally or informally as well, so that it remains fresh in the minds of each member of the workforce.

Surveys: It is essential to measure organisational culture at frequent intervals. Only things that can be quantified can be measured and analysed. Surveys can help quantify culture. This helps the organisation understand whether the culture is suited to the company, and whether any improvement is required. It also gives employees a chance to express themselves and share their ideas. Surveys can be undertaken regularly to strengthen the culture.

Involvement: It is important for the employees to feel that they are playing a significant part in shaping the culture of the organisation. Therefore, the organisation should share its action plan with the workforce and be open to incorporating their feedback and ideas. This kind of involvement keeps the employees engaged.

Attraction and retention: It is time for organisations to sell themselves to attract talent and also to retain them. If the culture is strong, attractive, open, fosters growth and development, and makes the employees feel wanted and valued, the employees will remain loyal to the organisation.

Fulfilment: Organisations should try and find out about the needs of the employees at regular intervals and do whatever it takes to fulfil them. Employees should be offered all the support required to achieve their individual and organisational goals and to drive success. This can only happen in organisations that have a strong and open culture.

No wonder, organisations with an open culture, where employees are encouraged to innovate, be creative and perform, manage to stay ahead of competition.

There are many instances of organisational culture having driven success.

For instance, at Starbucks, employees are called partners, which reinforces their sense of belongingness. And all these ‘partners’ enjoy stock options, financial assistance for education, health insurance and even a crisis fund. Sometimes, even the part-time staff enjoy these options.

There are many organisations that have communication at the core of their culture. Therefore, they strive to have an open line of communication across all departments and levels, informal communication networks as well as open and collaborative spaces.

No matter what the culture, as long as it is strong and each member of the workforce is aware of the same, there is nothing that can stop the employees from being fully engaged.

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