Discover how and why you should improve your internal culture.
The True Story of Jaiying
Jaiying was born in China but, a lone and unwanted daughter adopted at a young age, she moved to England in early 2006 to forge a career and seek redemption in the eyes of her family. Life was not easy for Jaiying and it was not about to get any easier.
Like many immigrants, Jaiying found herself working in the hotel industry, first of all in the restaurant as a waitress, but her lack of English language skills were a hindrance. She was moved into the cleaning team. There the pay was bad, the conditions were worse, and the gratitude was next to nothing.
In her job she found no comfort or honour for her family. She struggled with English, with her employers offering no help and placing her only with those who also struggled with the lexicon. Needless to say this did not encourage a productive working environment; no one talked to each other and she was miserable.
The Jaiying story is one that resonates strongly with hotel staff of all nationalities. As an industry, hotels have one of the highest staff turnover rates, as well as a bad reputation for bad pay and low employee happiness. This is something that can definitely change.
As for Jaiying, her story does improve. Jaiying moved to work for a different, five star, hotel chain and worked her way up to become a deputy manager. They helped her to improve her English and supported her when she took her UK driving test. She was given the support, time and training that she needed. The story does have a happy ending for one that started so rough.
What Jaiying Found
What Jaiying found was an internal culture that supported her, nourished her, and helped her grow. In return she is incredibly loyal to the company, working harder in order to benefit the greater good.
What Jaiying found was a group of people who saw her potential, and their investment in her made her more invested in them. Thanks to their encouragement she now manages people in fluent English.
What Jaiying found was that the staff were more invested. They looked up to her and her up to them. Together they continue to make the hotel experience the best it can possibly be. They are one, working together towards a common goal.
The Sad Truth About Internal Culture
Internal culture is a strange thing and it is often misunderstood. What companies need to understand is that there is no such thing as having no internal culture. You either have a good one or a bad one.
It is sad to recognise that, more often than not, companies ignore their internal culture as something that is universally unneeded, unhelpful, or unattractive. They see no need for a developed internal culture, and because of that staff feel no affiliation to the company. They see no reason to stay if they get a better offer elsewhere.
With a positive internal culture, the famous paradigm is no longer about living to work or working to live. Instead work and life become intertwined indefinitely.
The simple truth is that internal culture is not something that will simply sort itself out. If ignored or neglected it will just get worse.
There are exceptions to the rule however, as with certain companies the job is so intensive they remain culture neutral. Examples of these kinds of jobs include aeronautical engineers or surgeons. These jobs are, it has to be said, few and far between.
The Statistics To Back Up The Facts:
In terms of implementation, internal cultures are easy to develop and implement. They are a fantastic way of reducing staff turnover and improving morale amongst employees. A happy employee is a hard working and more dedicated employee. A happy employee is an employee who is willing to go the extra mile.
According to a study of over 200,000 full time employees from 500 organisations across the globe there are seven key points to take away, seven things which stood out above all else.
- 64% of all employees do not feel they have a strong work culture.
- 49% of all employees are not satisfied with their manager.
- 66% of employees do not see any chance for personal growth within their organisation.
- More than 1 in 4 employees do not feel they have the tools to be successful in their jobs.
- Only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. 79% do not.
- 44% of employees would happily give peer-to-peer recognition if they had an easy tool to do so. This can be a specific piece of software or joint Social Media.
- Peers and camaraderie (internal culture) are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile.
When those statistics are taken into account the importance of internal culture becomes apparent. It is a way of combatting all of the aforementioned problems. It improves communication, opens doorways, increases value and appreciation, and (as noted by the final point) it encourages employees to go the extra mile.
What this shows is that a poor working culture is severely problematic. It can damage all aspects of the working life if not utilised properly. It damages the company, the productivity, and (rather importantly) it damages an organisation's ability to outshine and outdo their competitors.
According to the study above, Professor Alex Edmans of Wharton University noted that those on the Fortune magazine's list of "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" returned an average of 14% per year on their stock. Those off the list, every other company, only returned an average of 6%.
Coincidentally (or not) those top 100 companies weathered the economic recession better due to the dedication of their staff. If a company has a great internal culture the staff want that company to succeed because they become invested in it. They end up caring about more than just the money.
With that in mind, money and benefits make up the seventh reason behind employees doing a good job. It is positioned after camaraderie, an intrinsic desire to do a good job, feeling recognised, having an impact, growing professionally, and meeting customer needs. Only 7% of employees felt motivated by money. Only 4% by their management, and only 4% because they believe in the company. These last two statistics are shocking.
It's Not All Doom and Gloom
There is good news, as mentioned above, and the news is that internal cultures are relatively easy to implement. Like with all business endeavours they do require some thought, but generally speaking an internal culture can be patched up relatively easily.
Creating A Culture
An internal culture starts from the top down.
An internal culture starts with driven personalities.
An internal culture starts with the founding management and why they created the business they are in. What drove them to begin with and what drives them now? What kind of person do they want working for them? Who did they directly employ and why? Creating a bio-snap of the founding members of a company can help drive progress and set guidelines for hiring new faces in the future.
Employing within culture perameters allows for employees to blend seamlessly into the company ethos.
The most important thing is to ensure that a company culture is not a grassroots movement. Instead it needs to start from the management and work its way through all levels of an organisation. Being organic is the best way it can make a true difference in the business.
Generally speaking, everything should click into place from that moment on and form a routine. This is what is referred to as the company synergy, where customers can really get a feel for a company by the way the company interacts within its own walls. This works for companies of all sizes, from fifty (like CAB Studios) to thousands of employees like Google has.
Once employees feel like they have a stake in the company they start taking ownership for certain aspects. Once they start taking responsibility for certain aspects of the business they will work harder, smarter, and aim for company wide success. This can make all the difference in the world.
This, it goes without saying, is not the only thing companies can do to ensure a strong internal culture. Hiring is about getting the right foot through the door, keeping it on the right side is another matter entirely.
Making The Work Environment A Home Away From Home
Bar responsibility, there are countless ways of keeping employees happy and engaged. One such thing is to encourage employees to be themselves at their desk or in their workspace. Other ways include jazzing up the work environment to be more welcoming and comfortable.
Companies have found their own ways of going about this.
- Google have all sorts of interesting quirks from quiet rooms to climbing walls, to roof top terraces for the summer.
- Pixar have secret rooms and play zones all over their offices to make it a fun environment. They want to inspire people to see the company's target audience.
- Adobe have designed their entire offices to encourage creativity at its finest. Every working area is designed with creativity in mind.
- Lego based their entire culture around employee happiness. They encourage workers to bring their children to work as well as engage in systematic play.
- Chevron have gained a great reputation and respect from their employees for adhering strictly with the company's basic principles.
- Large scale grocers Wegmans offer further education for their employees by partnering with schools and colleges to offer support where they can.
These are all large scale examples of companies who rock their internal culture, however creating an internal culture need not be as extravagant as a rock climbing wall or a set of secret rooms. Company culture can come in all shapes and sizes, and it can come from something as simple as sticking to the principles set out by the company founders or offering educational support. Simple, easy things make all the difference in the world.
What this means is that each and every company can think about what they can offer their employees in order to improve the company culture. Is it a brighter work environment? Are there the opportunities to have meetings in a different location? What social events can the company hold? The questions are endless but the answers can open all kinds of doors for the culture of the company.
Company Cultures Are Bespoke
There is no such thing as an off-the-shelf internal culture. Each and every culture is unique to its parent business. Each business has its own way of doing things, its own way it connects with staff, and each business hires its own specific type of person. This means each company should have its own unique culture.
This being said, there are certain staples that can help every business. These range in their effectiveness, once again depending on the business, but no matter each and every one helps build towards the ultimate goal of having an internal culture built by the employees, for the employees.
In the next section of this article we shall explore some of these in more detail.
Building the Internal Culture
Engaging employees is easy. Keeping them engaged is hard.
It is here the internal branding comes into account. It is important for companies to maintain a clear vision, mission, motivation (the WHY factor) and a clear set of company values. These are the core structure the staff can get behind. Having those will clearly set out the basis for any employee to continue their work knowing what it is precisely that they should be working towards. It gives them a purpose, and purposes are important.
The simple truth behind any internal brand is that it needs to keep employees engaged. This can be through training, regular events, or additional perks and quirks.
We have a few things at CAB that we are proud of as an SME. These include:
- We have a Firestarter first thing on a Monday morning where everyone gets revved up and excited for the week to come.
- Our 4 o'clock snacks everyday to boost the blood sugar levels.
- CABTab on a Friday, gets everyone down to the local for a drink (or two) on the company.
- Our Regular social evenings encourage stronger relationships inside the company.
- Employees are encouraged to decorate their desks and dress how they want to express their own personalities.
- Anyone can write on the walls.
- Everyone is encouraged to be as creative as possible, with a 'no barriers' approach to their job role.
- All employees have a book budget and training allowance to improve upon their own learning around their jobs.
The list is a very simple one. It costs very little from the company point of view, but it lets the employees know that they are not just sheep. They were hired for a reason so they should feel comfortable being themselves and do what they do best.
Company cultures come from communication. They come from knowing the employees intimately, and this point links in with a point from earlier as well. If you employ people who fit in with your culture then you will automatically be hiring people who will communicate well within that culture.
If we go back to the story of Jaiying for a moment, we can see that she joined a company where they appreciated she was still learning the English culture, so they helped her out and now she appreciates that help by being a loyal member of staff.
This story can be echoed for any business. All it requires is for the company to truly care about how their employees are.
Allow employees to grow. Allow people to be who they want to be. Let them take note of their progress, track their improvement, give them autonomy and yet support them when they want help. Give them values that they can believe in and a place where they feel comfortable to flourish. Give them reasons to be proud and a voice to share their pride with others. If this is done then they shall want for nothing and the internal culture of a company will be second to none.
This is how you build a supremely strong internal culture.
To find out more about internal cultures, and how to boost yours in more detail then please give CAB Studios a call. We aim to help companies become what they were made to be, by offering multichannel marketing and branding opportunities.
Just click on the button below to find out how to give your internal culture the shot of adrenaline it needs.