Recognise This! – You can’t engage employees. You can only create a culture in which they want to engage.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of company culture for employee engagement and business success.

An article in KnoweldegatW.P. Carey pointed out the importance of company culture to achieving the company strategy – and the peril of ignoring that importance.

Why is culture so important? Culture is simply the shared beliefs, values and behaviours of a group of people. In a company setting, that shared set of beliefs and values is what determines how work gets done. Do all employees understand the company objectives in the same way? Is it clear to employees that meeting “strategic objective A” only by violating “company value b” is not acceptable? Or, like at Enron, is a company value such as “integrity” thrown out the window to boost company profits?

Individual and group understanding about these things is what forms your culture and, ultimately, defines the success of your company. In an Inc. magazine article, CEO Paul Spiegelman says:

    “Our corporate culture has resulted in extremely low turnover and engaged employees who deliver exceptional customer service, which results in loyal customers who allow us to continue to grow our business. … Perhaps you think you are ready to transform your workplace culture, but are concerned about being able to justify costs with hard numbers. Consider this: Beryl is four to six times more profitable than our typical competitor and we attribute that to our ability to engage employees.”

I’ve said before, you can’t engage employees. You can only create a culture – a working environment – in which employees choose to engage. Create just such a culture – a culture of recognition and appreciation – in which employees know what is expected of them, what behaviours are acceptable and what the company is focussed on achieving through frequent positive praise and reinforcement. Then proactively manage that culture to achieve double digit increases in employee engagement in less than a year.

What’s your company culture like? Is it one you want to engage in? What makes it good (or bad)?