The term “company culture” gets tossed around a lot lately, and it’s true that a strong corporate culture can make a big difference in boosting employee recruitment and retention.
But, increasingly, men and women who put in eight hours or more a day in the workplace want something beyond culture. They want a community, a place that, as Inc. contributing editor Jeff Hader notes, “allows employees to feel a sense of belonging, that they’re part of something larger than themselves,” and which “gives meaning to their work, and their lives as a whole.”
How many companies can rightfully claim they have achieved this noble goal?
Of course, a sense of community grows out of a positive, supportive culture. But more can be done to instill that sense of community. Here are tips to consider:
Explain and support a set of employee-backed values.
Every organization has a set of core values by which it operates. While, generally speaking, these values are determined by the executive team, nowhere is it written in stone that this is the only way to operate.
Instead, if a solid workplace community is your objective, look for ways to solicit employee participation in determining those values. What does your workforce most want to see in a corporate code of ethics, relating both to behavior in the workplace and the way customers should be treated? Take a survey or appoint an employee-led project team to come up with some viable answers.
Ensure that everyone lives by the same rules.
It’s hard to foster a sense of community in an environment where employees perceive that the leadership team doesn’t have to abide by the same rules they do. Make sure everyone within the organization is subject to the same code of behavior, regardless of their position, and that when infractions occur, the consequences apply across the board.
Find out what motivates new hires and your current workforce.
Bringing on new hires who seem like a good fit for the company is laudable and worth pursuing. But take things a step further by asking fledgling employees to describe their strongest individual motivators, ideal working conditions, and preferred forms of recognition. (It’s a good idea to survey your current workforce on the same topic.) The responses you get back can help you refine your culture in ways that are genuinely employee-centric and feel more like a community of like-minded individuals.
Address productivity roadblocks.
Employees get frustrated when bureaucratic obstacles or other work-related roadblocks get in the way of productivity. By inviting them to identify these roadblocks—and offer input on how best to address them—you strengthen the sense that “we’re all in this together” and that your goal is to build an environment of productivity wherever possible.
Sponsor employee gatherings.
Ongoing social events “help create bonds within the team and boost employee morale,” notes Flare HR, “enabling your people to get to know each other on a more personal level.” Whether it’s a weekly lunch at a popular restaurant or a weekend picnic in the park with family members invited too, these occasions pave the way to shared experiences that employees can reflect upon collectively and serve as a foundation for stronger interpersonal relationships.
Make recognition and reward a top priority.
As your company’s values become clearer and more pervasive, seek out opportunities to recognize individuals who exemplify those values. Words of gratitude from the CEO or business owner can make a huge difference in the daily life of an employee.
Likewise, formal employee recognition programs contribute to a sense of community by emphasizing the benefits of hard work, creative problem-solving, and going above and beyond one’s job responsibilities. This is even more effective when you encourage employees to regularly nominate a co-worker for recognition and reward.
Want to learn more about building a great culture and community? Register for our complimentary, no-pitch TAB BOSS Webinar, “Culture—If You Build It, They Will Stay.”