This article was updated on July 10, 2018.
HR impacts company culture and plays a key role in helping to ensure an organization's culture stays relevant. Corporate culture is not a fixed state — it evolves with changing demographics, workplace norms, industry forces and other factors. It's possible to measure your organization's culture and use that information as a baseline for future improvements, notes the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "You can now deploy pulse engagement and feedback tools to quickly understand cultural issues in every group, every week," reports SHRM.
Your corporate culture influences everything from productivity and morale to engagement and brand reputation. For HR leaders, it's important to recognize how culture impacts the bottom line and what steps businesses can take to periodically evaluate how their cultures are performing.
The Dynamics of Organizational Culture
Organizational culture is reflected across multiple levels of the business. It can be seen in the work styles that define your team's day-to-day approach to projects, and in how your management interacts with its staff. An enterprise culture can be hyperfocused, conservative, collaborative, team-driven or encompass a host of other characteristics. "Companies with positive cultures have better performance, productivity and profits than those without," according to SHRM.
HR leaders should consider the following:
- It's possible to measure organizational culture and use that as a barometer for engagement and workforce effectiveness
- HR leaders have a direct impact on company culture
- Cultures change and are molded by many factors
When you're seeking to determine if your organization's culture is evolving, there are several ways to evaluate that and change its trajectory if needed:
Different generations have unique desires and expectations regarding an organization's culture. Currently, you'll find four generations working side-by-side in many businesses. Millennials are taking a more prominent role as baby boomers reach retirement. As a result, HR leaders need to evaluate how each generation's expectations and needs shape a changing organizational culture — and whether current values resonate. HR leaders should determine whether their current workplace culture is strong, or whether new programs should be incorporated — such as increased mentorship.
An organization's culture doesn't exist in a vacuum. The tone is set by the leadership, but it's affected by a variety of external agents. Changing norms in the workplace, political factors, a tight job market in the industry, a shortage of skilled labor and other elements can change your culture and make it increasingly important. Take a closer look at industry trends that might influence your organization's culture. For example, if your company must allow staff to work from anywhere in order to attract talent in a competitive industry, then it might be time to adopt flexible scheduling and telecommuting policies.
Technology also has an impact on an organization's culture. As companies become more global, teams have to work across different cultures, geographies and time zones. Collaborative tools are playing a larger role in the conversation. If you're lagging behind in using technology to help support your culture, now may be the time to determine how technology can help you better align.
How engaged are your employees? Understanding employee engagement can help you see how effective your culture is. When employees are engaged, they're likely more connected to your mission and more productive. If strategic assessments reveal low engagement, it's time to look at what areas of your culture can be changed to more effectively engage your team — from clarifying your purpose to improving your management style.
The Big Picture
Your organization's mission and vision statement convey your culture. You may also use core values to convey your organization's approach to serving customers and stakeholders and treating employees. Revisiting these documents can help businesses determine if anything has changed and what's influencing organizational culture. For example, a strategic pivot might have fundamentally affected your mission.
HR impacts company culture in a number of ways. Establish a process where you regularly evaluate your organization's culture, and then work to determine what steps you can take to maximize your culture's impact on the bottom line.
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