5 ways communication strengthens company culture

When an organization’s culture is strong, employees are proud of their work and motivated to give their best. And communication is a powerful tool to help you get there.

Effective communication will reinforce the shared beliefs, values and behaviors that set the tone for the way you work. And it will demonstrate how employees are living the values and leading by example.

Ready to put communication to work? Here are five ways to strengthen your company’s culture with communication:

1. Gather insights and plan

If you want to get a pulse on your organization’s culture, take a look at your most recent employee engagement survey results (or other data). They provide a snapshot of how employees are feeling about the organization and can help you identify ways to communicate more effectively about culture.

What should you look for? Here are some examples of survey questions or statements that connect to workplace culture:

· I’m proud to tell others I work here.

· Management is honest and ethical in its business practices.

· I’m able to take time off when I think it’s necessary.

· In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

· My manager seems to care about me as a person.

If you see low engagement scores in areas such as these, set up a focus group or one-on-one interviews to understand why employees feel that way. Then adjust your communication efforts based on what you learn.

2. Bring core values to life

Your company’s values are a reflection of your culture — who you are and how you work together. But often employees have a tough time understanding what the values mean for their day-to-day work.

Help employees wrap their heads around your core values by showing them in action. Here’s how:

Storytelling helps build connections with others by creating a personal, emotional experience. Share stories of how employees are supporting your values in a series of articles in your weekly newsletter. Ask a senior leader to tell a story about “living our values” at a town hall, such as an employee who went the extra mile for a customer.

Discussion is a great way to help employees make sense of values and apply them to their work. So create a fun activity that engages employees and encourages dialogue. For example, my team designed a board game for a food distribution company where employees had to use the company’s values to overcome common workplace challenges.

3. Build awareness of HR programs and resources

One way to show employees that you “walk the talk” when it comes to building a healthy work culture is to highlight benefits and resources that support your culture.

For example, if you say your company supports a healthy work-life balance, let employees know how to request a flexible work arrangement. Or promote childcare incentives that are available to working parents.

If you want to strengthen a culture of diversity and inclusion, encourage employees to join an employee resource group — an employee-led group that focuses on shared interests, backgrounds or life experiences.

Include this information in HR communications, such as onboarding guides or benefits overviews, to build awareness.

4. Articulate your culture

Before applying for a position, job seekers want to know, “Will I fit into the culture?”

That’s why it’s important to tell a compelling story about your organization’s culture: what makes your organization unique and what kind of person will be successful with your way of working.

One great place to start is job postings. Instead of just focusing on experiences and skills, highlight expectations about work style that will help people shine. Here are some examples:

· You are open to getting feedback from your colleagues.

· You respect colleagues’ different interests and varied perspectives.

· You aren’t afraid to test new ways of approaching a challenge.

· You believe working as a team is the best way to find creative solutions.

· You enjoy mentoring colleagues and helping them be successful.

Including these details in your career site and job postings will help job seekers envision themselves fitting in and encourage those who are a good fit to apply.

5. Keep the conversation going

It’s important to keep employees actively engaged with your company’s culture so it’s always top of mind.

But the conversation won’t continue on its own. You’ll need to create opportunities for employees to give feedback and shares ideas, such as:

Field short surveys (less than five questions) throughout the year to get feedback on how employees are experiencing your company culture and suggestions for improvement.

Use social media platforms, such as Yammer, to create opportunities for employees to talk about culture. For example, you could enlist senior leaders to hold a series of Yam Jams where they post a compelling question about your company’s culture and employees respond.

Invite HR representatives to host informal coffee chats with small groups of employees (8 to12 people) to discuss culture and answer questions. No need to draft an agenda; let employees take the lead in sharing what’s on their minds.

Communication plays an important role in shaping a culture that employees and those outside your organization want to be a part of. Just remember to keep a pulse on how employees are feeling by encouraging dialogue and shifting your HR communication strategy when needed.

Alison Davis is founder and CEO of Davis and Company, the award-winning employee communication firm. Visit https://www.davisandco.com to know more.