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Supporting company culture key aspect of workplace

“… The present now will later be past … the times they are a-changin.’”

While Bob Dylan’s 1964 song became an anthem for change, even he likely could not have anticipated the many ways his song was adopted and applied across a wide range of cultures and entities—and how rapidly the times have changed.

As a multigenerational workforce drives workplace diversity and growth, the theme of change is more present than ever in society. Hiring and developing workers today calls for a more flexible, entrepreneurial approach. More than 21 percent of millennials are looking for another job, and they seek experiences that let them learn, grow and build their skill set while joining a company that shares their values.

How can great workplaces encourage and drive the growth of their team members?

Trust and transparency are key traits for workplaces in today’s increasingly competitive global marketplace. Executives today are encouraged to be collaborative, inclusive and open. Responding to employee needs is critical as technology and social media mean that rapid replies and real-time response are now the norm.

Much like the iconic 1980s MTV ad campaign, “I Want My MTV,” the workplace today is very much a real-time demand for innovation and excitement. “I Want My MTV” featured Mick Jagger, Cyndi Lauper, Sting and other celebrities encouraging viewers to call their cable provider to sign on to the fledgling music network—and within a year, more than 80 percent of households had MTV.

In addition to the need for quick decisions, employees today are protective of their roles yet open to new ideas—and companies with strong cultures must work to preserve this entrepreneurial spirit amid a time of tremendous global change. Protecting and supporting company culture is a key part of a great workplace.

The Korn Ferry Institute, the research and analytics arm of the global people and organizational advisory firm Korn Ferry, conducted a global survey on leadership development, generating more than 7,500 responses worldwide with more than 2,600 responses from North American business leaders. The survey found that “a growing number of people—from people new to the workforce to senior executives—want to work in companies that are aligned with their values and committed to serving the world in a positive way.”

Company core values that match or align closely with personal values are significant. At Dixon Schwabl, our core values are respect, integrity, teamwork, community and fun.

Ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. has 14 core cultural values, reflecting the boldness, risk, and even occasional controversy that has surrounded the world’s most valuable startup. These core values include vision, quality obsession, “hustlin’,” innovation, “toe-stepping,” fierceness, execution and communication. With so much at stake in the competitive ride-sharing market, Uber has had to rapidly change its messaging and culture while continuing to break into new markets and hire drivers, managers and leaders at all levels.

Today’s leaders embrace development and training with increasing levels of enthusiasm and encouragement from senior management. The Korn Ferry Institute’s study found that team members prefer live, in-person development, with “face-to-face experiences (that) are important for driving elevated development outcomes.”

They also prefer “context-based” activities that are more relevant to the organization’s business strategy and culture. This helps them to “gain insights into issues facing the organization and how to solve real-world problems with their colleagues.”

Connections to the organization’s overall strategy are a critical part of leadership, and cascading this message to team members is important so the entire company has a vested interest in the success of this strategy—with the time and tools to execute the tactics to make it happen.

Award-winning job site Indeed ranks as one of the Best Workplaces in Consulting and Professional Services by the Great Place to Work Institute.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Indeed looks for employees who have “a spirit of service and the desire to help others, from your co-workers to the people in your community and beyond.” To encourage growth, the company has a group called Indeed Ambassadors, a team of “influential Indeedians who embody and promote our company’s goals and culture.” Internal leadership and networking opportunities are offered, including programs, events and initiatives.

In the Great Place to Work survey, employees rated Indeed 97 percent for great challenges and 99 percent for great atmosphere. Korn Ferry’s survey results recommended that leaders “reinforce a sense of purpose and mission … (as) individuals and organizations are far more motivated and energized when they are connected to a broader purpose or feel they are providing a service to the world, their customers, and their community.”

Despite the importance of in-person communication, statistics show that more communication is taking place virtually than ever before. Texting is the most frequently used form of communication among Americans younger than 50 according to a September 2015 Gallup poll, but experts emphasize the need for in-person communication.

Learning specialist Heather Leneau Bragg notes that “face-to-face conversations allow us to notice cues about the other person’s emotions, such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, body posture, and the timing and intensity of response.” While challenging in today’s times, Great Workplaces develop cultures that embrace new ideas with a commitment to maintaining an individual, personal focus and open communication.
Lauren Dixon is CEO of Dixon Schwabl Inc., a marketing communications firm, which has been honored as a best place to work.

3/31/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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