This is our final post in our series about employee experience! We have covered everything from tools, onboarding, to training. At Real Blue Sky, we know Customers Stay When Employees Come First. The last topic (and probably the most important) we are exploring in our series is company culture. As Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos, infers below, when you get company culture right, everything else within your organization will fall into this place. This could not be truer in your contact center, where workplace culture is mirrored back to your customers.
“Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or empowering employees and customers will happen on its own.”
-Tony Hsieh, Zappos
What Does Corporate Culture Mean Anyway?
If we asked you right now what “corporate culture” means, could you quickly provide a succinct response? If your answer is “no,” you are in good company. The definition of corporate or workplace culture may seem somewhat intangible or ambiguous.
What is clear though is how workers feel about workplace culture. A Glassdoor Study revealed, “56% of workers ranked a strong workplace culture as more important than salary, with more than 3 in 4 workers saying they consider a company’s culture before applying there.”
When looking within your organization, it’s often difficult to articulate what the culture is – but if something isn’t right about it – you just know. Every company has a culture, whether that organization is being intentional about creating it or not.
At Real Blue Sky, we like to define company culture as the heartbeat, the pulse, and the personality of an organization – it’s what drives your organization under a common vision. The company’s environment, its mission, values, ethics, brand promises, goals, and expectations are the elements that make up this culture. Some have said, the culture is the how in “how things get done” in the organization.
Create a great workplace culture and your organization can experience higher productivity, better employee morale, greater employee engagement, lower staff turnover, more sales and creativity, and boosted customer experiences. This all translates to a better bottom line for your organization. Consider that Gallup says, “having a culture that attracts high-talent can lead to 33% higher revenue.”
Company Culture Critical in the Contact Center
The contact center of your organization is a microcosm of your entire organization. Your contact center employees reflect your company culture – good or bad – in every interaction with your customers. Poor workplace culture is very often the root cause of an organization’s bad reputation for customer service. Bottom line, when the contact center work culture is suffering, it’s almost certain your customer service is suffering too.
Key Elements of Establishing Culture
Let’s face it, no one sets out to create a poor work culture within their organization. A negative work culture often emerges over time. Workplace culture is intangible and fragile. It can take a very long time to build up or change. And it can be destroyed in an instant.
Strong leadership is critical to building and maintaining the culture. As a leader, you can build an awesome work culture through initiatives and choices that empower your employees to work at their best. Here, we will explore these steps. Need some help defining your workplace culture, click here for 33 Words to Describe Your Company Culture.
Establish the Culture
Within your organization, it should be no mystery what the core values of your organization are. Indoctrinating employees into your workplace culture should start from the interviewing process and be a part of your employee’s entire journey within the organization. You might want to post your company’s mission and values statement in a very prevalent place in the company – whether that’s a physical and/or virtual posting.
Be careful to lead by example. It’s great to articulate your company’s value or mission statement, but employees need to see leadership live and breathe these concepts for lasting change to occur. If your company says it values self-improvement, management needs to demonstrate this trait in their own actions. When you lead by example, you help your employees build trust in leadership and the organization.
Hire the Right People
Hiring is like putting a puzzle together. You have a piece you are hoping will fit in one of your empty spots. In fact, it may look like there is a good chance it will fit. However, when you go to place the piece, you realize no matter how you turn it or force it into the spot, it’s simply not the right fit. The people you hire for your organization are your puzzle pieces. You need to find the employee that will fit into your company’s culture. Guarding your organizational culture starts here.
You can’t just hire based on skill or need. You need to hire someone who appreciates and emulates your company’s culture and values. When interviewing candidates, you might want to optimize the process by having a team of interviewers cover different topics with the candidate – like skills, experience, job fit, and cultural fit, etc. This is a great way to get a full picture of the candidate.
Plan Teambuilding Activities
If your employees don’t really know one another and interaction is limited, it’s impossible for your workplace culture to grow. You need to create opportunities for social interactions in the workplace to build the culture – think company meals, virtual happy hours, team building games. Team activities are also a great way to build on the company values. If your organization values, “making a difference,” is there something you could do as a team to demonstrate this? For more ideas, check out this great article from Hubspot.com, 13 Quick & Easy Team-Building Activities for Customer Support Teams.
Help Employees with Their Health and Wellness
In a recent article entitled, Cisco Leaders Focus on Measuring Employees Well-Being, 68% of employees said thinking about current global events impacts their mental health. 67% of employees say they experience stress at work weekly, which is up from 62% pre-pandemic. And, 15% of workers say they feel stress every day.
Cisco is making a concerted effort to understand how this stress effects their employee engagement. “Well-being helps explain engagement, which in turn helps explain retention,” said Madison Beard, senior leader of applied research, people research, and intelligence at Cisco. “If people aren’t well, they can’t be engaged in your company.”
Managers need to offer resources, tools, and both on- and off-site opportunities for employees to live their healthiest life. Making employees aware of the mental health benefits you offer might be a great place to start. According to a recent study, more than half of employees haven’t used their mental health benefits.
You need to encourage real feedback from the employees of your organization. Be visible and accessible to your team to encourage conversation.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
As a leader you need to be prepared to act on the feedback your employees give you no matter how uncomfortable it might be to hear – this is especially true in the contact center. Agents are the ones on the frontlines talking to customers every day. Feedback from these agents is invaluable for measuring customer service initiatives. Make sure to close the loop on your employees’ feedback by letting them know if and how you plan to act on it, and when.
You can also ask your employees what they like and don’t like about the company culture. Encourage them to offer suggestions for what they think would help create and foster a great culture.
Create an Environment of Trust and Respect
Empower team leaders and employees to make decisions and support them when they do. We think Home Depot’s inverted pyramid management style is a great example of employee empowerment (we’ve used this for years). At Home Depot, frontline associates and customers are at the forefront of its customer experience (CX) strategy. In an article by TELUS International, Mike Jones, Senior Director of Customer Care says, “One of the greatest advantages of the inverted pyramid approach is the consistent funnel of priceless customer feedback. We believe the best ideas emerge from those closest to the customer.”
You also need to create psychological safety within your organization. Employees need to feel comfortable being and expressing themselves. Psychologically safe employees are emboldened to take risks and innovate. You can create this safety by creating committees for underrepresented groups, demonstrating respect for everyone regardless of their role, and giving employees autonomy in their work.
Finally, be transparent in your organization. You create trust between employees and management by embracing transparency and integrity. Don’t leave your team second-guessing what management is doing or the reasoning behind these decisions. A great place to start is with regular town hall style meetings.
Hopefully, we have shown you how important company culture is within an organization. It’s a simple equation – a positive workplace culture equals happy employees which equals happy customers. The time you spend working to improve your company culture will be time very well spent. We would love to hear ways in which your organization is improving its workplace culture. Drop a note below. Speaking of company culture, you won’t want to miss our next post about Generation Z and what your company must understand to effectively employ and market to this important demographic.