Aligning culture to your brand has never been more fashionable. Internal communications (or ‘intervising’) is a newfound, yet significant virtue that brands and agencies are setting a new standard for in the modern workplace. After all, we’re creatures of culture, no? The idea behind the coined term: You best sell your brand to your staff before you even think of selling it to consumers. Because your team is who delivers–or fails to provide–the values of your brand, it’s vital for them to have a deep understanding of your promise as a business. I’m not talking about having a phrase on a plaque in your office memorized, but having a truly profound insight into what the company stands for. We are now seeing external efforts of communication and its funding shifting internally. As a result, companies who show a more rooted culture tend to perform higher and have a more loyal workforce. The way the system works: companies invertise to employees–employees carry on the brand promise to customers–customers become loyal–loyal customers continue to buy–revenues increase–employees become recognized for their part–employees feel empowered and are happier (http://redpepper.land/). And thus, the cycle continues. (Photo source: https://www.fastcompany.com/1810674/culture-eats-strategy-for-lunch)
The Dos of Culture
If branding is king, it’s being dethroned by culture. It’s not just about what you’re putting out any more, but also what’s happening indoors. So what exactly makes for a good workplace environment? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just compensation and benefits. Ask yourself, ‘are my employees happy to wake up and come into work each day?’ Are they looking forward to it or counting down the days until the weekend? The key: not making your approach so generic or dull that it cues a collective sigh from the team. Employees live and breathe your culture. Recognize it! The biggest mistake you can make is to define your culture only for it to get lost. Another common error amongst companies continues to be trying to accommodate everyone. Creating an all-inclusive work culture seems ideal, but it’s neither practical nor realistic. It’s just as important to be true to agency values as it is to be unique. And chances are, most people will work for a company going through an internal integration (if you haven’t already). That said, too many approaches can cause demoralization among company culture.
So when you discover or determine what works internally, commit!
Commendable cultures tend to attract newer and better talent. Millennials aren’t looking for lifetime careers anymore and are expecting to change companies, roles, and industries throughout their entire profession. This mentality goes for on-boarding as well. It’s critical to hire individuals who already mesh with your culture rather than expecting them to adapt. To justify hiring new staff members when a business is quickly growing is easy–but down the line, the clash of culture can become a potential problem with significant consequences. Instead, take advantage of every interaction and incorporate brand values, whether it be company policy, recruiting, or day-to-day experience. If your office is in a transition, use that moment as a natural pivot point. Choose the right place and time and try not to rush into things. (Book by Ben Barry)
Brands Leading the Charge
Hubspot is notoriously known for its Culture Code. Not code as in ‘code of conduct’ but as in software building, or this case, culture building. The company shares an internal Wiki page that is available for the staff to share ideas, thoughts, and encourage feedback. Another significant value the company follows–no silent disagreements (https://www.hubspot.com/). It’s also obsessed with data. Going as far to state debates aren’t resolved by job titles, but hard statistics. Not one person, including its CEO, has an office. To remind workers the only guaranteed is change; every few months everyone is assigned a new seat in a very adult form of musical chairs. As a whole, the company believes if it falls within the mean of the industry that its failed–but it’s better to fail than to never try anything new. As it says, having no decision is worse than an imperfect or controversial one.
Southwest Airlines is yet another company that has a higher purpose merely than its paychecks. Like a real champ of customer service, it’s always adapting and acknowledging leaders throughout its hierarchy on all levels. The airline’s outlook can be summarized in the words of co-founder Herb Kelleher, “The business of business is people.” Check out its vision & purpose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGxMf88I5g4.
Costco lives by the phrase, “Do the right thing, even when it hurts” (www.td.org). It’s known for valuing its people by giving them a voice. The company’s vision is to be a positive community force. It thinks of its employees as family and even pays above the average hourly pay, ranking in at $21 an hour. It is regularly looking for ways to serve consumers better and more efficiently. Costco has established strong customer loyalty, envious of other big retailers. It gives career opportunities to employees, and admirably all its senior execs have worked their way up by working in Costco warehouses and stores. So is this the end of advertising as we know it? Is it truly dead? Of course not–it’s just evolved. Bid adieu to the old way of thinking and hello to the modern culture movement. Unlike other forms of communications which are easily manufacturable, culture is something that is uniquely yours. In a connected age, what was once opaque inside office walls now has the potential to seep into the outside world—being aware that everything speaks now crucial to success. What messages, customs, or movements are happening within your company that would spark a conversation to an outsider?