This guest post comes to us from Cindy Park, Salted Stone‘s Director of People Operations. She’s worked with the agency since 2015 in both Client Services and executive leadership roles. Cindy is responsible for training, onboarding, and internal process development, in addition to team-building and continued education initiatives within the global organization. She’s a Southern California native with an enthusiastic love for dogs, good beer, and the Dodgers.
In the Salted Stone x TINYpulse Culture Code Workbook, we break down what we believe to be the “Essential Culture Code Elements” – Approach to Growth, Diversity, Organizational Mission & Values, and Company Structure. These are tangible and intangible aspects of any organization which, when discussed and synthesized into rules or activities, define a brand’s culture.
A few of these are slightly more concrete.
For instance, there are often straightforward answers to questions about geographic expansion initiatives or growth goals regarding employee headcount. Most team members can likely speak to the established preference toward flat or hierarchical org chart structures within the company. You may already be utilizing tactics to prevent racial or ethnic bias in the hiring process, and hosting inclusivity trainings.
But one of these Essential Elements, Organizational Mission & Values, can be difficult to consider from an actionable perspective, let alone talk about.
So how do you translate your brand’s perspective on Mission and Values to life in your office, day-to-day?
Start by considering a few key components. There are, of course, many facets of mission statements and value sets. Start by thinking through the following:
- Professional and personal development
- Attitudes toward mistakes
- Work/life balance
Professional and Personal Development
All humans are driven by the opportunity to grow and learn. Not only does it make business sense to enable team members to grow or sharpen their skill sets, but it also contributes to talent retention. In fact, 94% of employees surveyed in LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report said that they “would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.”
Offer internal lunch n’ learns, in which best practices are reviewed or specific trainings are held. These allow for a deeper understanding of cross-departmental responsibilities or functions, and provide your team members with the opportunity to think beyond their silos.
Allow employees the opportunity to attend relevant conferences or industry events in which a reasonable ROI can be forecasted. Make sure the “pitching” process (to decision makers) is publicly visible, and appoint a directly responsible individual to carve out time to review requests. BONUS! Ask team members who attend events to write a blog post recapping their experience, Live Tweet their takeaways, or set networking goals to exchange business cards and information with at least 10 folks.
Attitudes Toward Mistakes
The message that leadership sends about the acceptability of honest accidents is powerful. Is exact rule/process-following valued over effort, respectful criticism of established rules, or creative approaches? Your people need to know.
Do you have a system in place for filing incidents as they come up? Does everyone at the company know what to do if and when such an event occurs? Is there a 3-strike rule, or will you need an internal review to determine the outcome of a mistake? Is perfection expected?
Decide on a policy and ensure that it is physically seen and culturally understood.
Publish an overview of this system somewhere that everyone can access it, be it on an internal wiki or a physical print-out, and be clear on what does and doesn’t constitute a fireable offense. And bearing in mind that every single member of your team will err at some point or another, ensure that your approach is communicated during onboarding and at regular intervals thereafter.
The concept of work/life balance has become a popular one in recent years. Offering competitive remote work/work from home policies is an important step in the right direction, but taking an even more creative approach can impact the business in major ways.
Offering a sabbatical or unlimited paid leave for workers will establish a sense of (hard earned) appreciation, reap surprising benefits for leadership, and – from an employer branding perspective – appeal greatly to future hires. A Glassdoor study found that paid vacation “ranks just behind healthcare plans as the most important benefit” an employer can offer, eclipsing even performance bonuses and retirement plans.
Host quarterly company events to encourage camaraderie, bring your team together, and shake up the day-to-day routine. These can be centered around community engagement, team building, or – most preferably – having fun.
The privilege to support nonprofit organizations and causes through donations, volunteer hours, or pro bono work, should be taken seriously by every organization at a certain level of maturity.
Donate a portion of your profits to worthy causes. Supporting philanthropic efforts cultivates goodwill and allows your organization to express their values in tangible ways. This has the additional benefit of building positive brand associations to prospective hires, partners, and customers. Everyone wants to support a company that cares.
Host yearly “Give Back Days” where employees can opt out of work to participate in sponsored charitable events. Let your team members have a say in the scheduling of the event, and the cause you’re supporting.
Priorities Are Key
Ultimately, your Organizational Mission & Values will be developed by
your stated priorities. Identifying your primary drivers is absolutely critical to establishing a mission and upholding your values.
Are you process-driven? Product-first? Does the client matter more than anything else? Why are you in business, to make money? To change the world? To offer a unique experience for individuals or companies? Are you trying to shift the industry and landscape that you’re operating within?
Get clear on these priorities and make sure all efforts exist to back them up.
Use the Salted Stone x TINYpulse Culture Code Workbook – packed with questions designed to reveal the unique culture within your organization – to start building your employer brand and craft a roadmap for strategic growth.