More than 50% of executives report that corporate culture affects profitability, growth rates, productivity, creativity and the value of their organization1. This significant number underscores the critical role that company culture plays in driving employee performance. Employees inevitably will struggle if the values, vision and culture of the organization do not align. When it comes to fostering company culture, it is equally important to give top performers positive reinforcement by rewarding them.
Why is this? Well, contrary to popular opinion, true company culture is not founded on the ability to work remotely, office perks such as free food and drinks or the number of vacation days granted annually. It is, rather, founded on the compensation, promotions and terminations of employees. Their colleagues watch them succeed or fail and, whether consciously or subconsciously, view the employees who succeed as role models. After all, they “got it right,” so theirs is a good example to follow.
At the same time, the values of a company are the pillars that hold up its culture. Lack of alignment of values with rewards can cause cracks in employees’ impression of your organization and eventually erode away at morale. For this reason, it is essential to strike a balance between values and incentives.
The prospect of achieving the aforementioned balance may sound overwhelming. While it can certainly be tricky, establishing and maintaining a strong culture with a firm corporate identity is entirely possible when companies follow certain strategies.
Recognize Good Work Daily
Tangible rewards are not necessary every single day. Recognizing good work daily simply means acknowledging their efforts and achievements. This can be done one-on-one with the employee in person or via email or making their hard work public via channels such as company blogs or newsletters, social media and organizational meetings.
Doing so serves two purposes. It engenders goodwill and gratitude in the employee receiving the recognition and positions them as an example to their co-workers, who will feel motivated to improve their own performance.
Reward Values And Work
Recognizing the “how” that leads to productivity is critical to aligning with your organizational culture and values. For example:
There are plenty of employees who work hard and produce, but are lacking in ethics or are generally disliked by their colleagues because they do not treat people well. At the end of the day, while performance is very important, people want to work with people they like on some level. And people who treat others well are likeable.
In other cases, some employees that produce do so in a perfectly ethical manner, but still may not adhere to the values you have set forth. For example, if work/life balance is part of your culture, a workaholic is not necessarily the best employee to recognize publicly.
When employees that produce while honoring your organization’s values are held up as examples of your company’s values in action, their co-workers will start to view them as role models and emulate them. This chain of events reinforces a positive culture and boosts morale, as well as building trust in your organization’s values.
Ask For Employee Input
One surefire way to make certain your values align with your company culture is to get ideas and feedback from your employees. They are the lifeblood of your company and they are out in the trenches every day. They know, more so than any of the top brass, what drives those who execute the operations of your business.
The input of new employees is equally important. Ask them what about your company culture compelled them to accept the job and what they hope their experience will be like. They may have suggestions that will help you strengthen weak areas and resolve issues you did not previously know existed in the first place.
When employees feel like their opinions and experience are valued, it boosts their engagement. This is important, as companies with highly engaged workers grow revenue 2.5 times as much as companies with less engaged workers2.
While employee input is undeniably valuable, your human resources team will need to use its best judgement to determine whether or not the feedback you receive is on point. If it seems out of whack or self-serving – for example, the suggestion of a more relaxed culture from an employee who frequently calls off sick – it is probably best to disregard it.
Company culture, as well as the values and non-cash incentives that define it, can seem minor when you are hyper focused on getting the job done, and done well. However, by taking a bit of extra time and giving your organization’s culture the attention it deserves, you will motivate employees to work harder and to emulate those who remain true to the culture. The end result will be happy, driven employees who make a concerted effort on their work, feel goodwill toward your company and rave about it to their social circle.