An engaging company culture starts at the leadership level. Employees that are engaged—that is, genuinely committed to the company they work for and the work they do there—when they feel the contribution they make is both meaningful and valued. When employees are engaged, he or she is more likely to produce more volume and higher quality work. Investing in company culture is a win-win. Consider these investments in your team:
Practice what you preach. Establish vision, mission, and values statements, and live them every day. Hire and maintain only leaders and human resource professionals who can do the same. Remember that your actions will always speak louder than words; every leader in the company must demonstrate the values and behaviors they expect from their team members. People are both inspired and motivated by leaders who care about the work they do and the people on their team.
Acknowledge that employees are human beings. Acknowledge employees at every level in the organization as complex human beings. Take special care to connect with them both personally and professionally. Show interest in their career goals and work feverishly to support their growth and advancement. Express compassion and understanding for their personal obstacles, and—even more importantly—expect them to have personal obstacles from time to time. Make a personal commitment to listen to your employees every day. Establishing relationships is critical for high engagement.
Make tough decisions. One bad apple can poison the entire group. When you recognize a toxic employee (one that other employees dread working with or feel like they have to walk on eggshells around), have those difficult conversations early and terminate quickly if progress is not shown. Dealing with toxicity immediately demonstrates your commitment to your team's health and well-being.
Be transparent. Share goals, progress, and financials with your employees. Employees are likely to invest personally in company goals when they feel included in the company's direction and success. Be transparent with information and seek insight and feedback from employees who are interested in being involved in the process.
Reward the best. Reward employees who are consistently engaged, keeping in mind that rewards don't have to be monetary. Employee-of-the-month awards or a simple thank you or acknowledgement in front of peers are great ways to reward a top performer. Promote from within whenever possible to show employees that success is theirs if they demonstrate commitment and live the company values.
Create opportunity for socialization. Establishing friendships at work is critical for most employees. Creating opportunities for employees to connect, get to know one another, and have fun at work is imperative. Consider weekly or monthly company lunches, holiday parties, celebrations of work anniversaries or promotions, and summer picnics. Employees feel that you value them as human beings when you support their relationships at work and provide them with an atmosphere that allows causal conversation and connection throughout the day.
While establishing a culture of engagement requires significant commitment and effort, maintaining that culture once you get there happens organically. By being selective with those you let on board and following the tips above, you can create and maintain an engaging culture in your company.
Amanda Lipson is a Human Resources Generalist at ZeroCater in San Francisco. Lipson also is working toward her master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology at San Jose State University.