There is nothing I love more than a good AHA moment and February's Culture Catalyst event on Demystifying the Employee Experience was FULL of them! I was joined by a panelist of experts who each shared their personal experience leading and navigating this aspect of culture at their respective companies. To ensure their pearls of wisdom live on past one evening, below are my favorite pieces of actionable advice from each panelist.
Two-way communication is fundamental to a positive employee experience.
The importance of strong, consistent communication wove its way throughout our entire conversation, but Kyle highlighted two aspects that are crucial to developing a positive employee experience no matter your company size or industry.
Embrace feedback and collect it often. Kyle shared how this is especially important for anyone whose exploring the company's employee experience for the first time. Whether you collect the feedback via survey, focus groups, or 1:1 conversations, there is no better way to uncover the biggest employee pain points. Knowing these will allow you focus on the most impactful changes first.
It's not just what, but how you communicate. As your company scales and you further leverage technology to drive communication, you really want to focus on a couple of key questions. What channels are you using to communicate to your people? How are you communicating to different audiences? Are you looking at it as just a generic message to the masses? Or are you actually thinking about the teams, the people, the people within those groups?
Even small changes to your onboarding program can substantially impact the employee experience.
While hiring is often seen as one of the most important aspects of business, we often forget just how powerful onboarding can be. Done well, it can be the foundation for long-term retention and engagement. Kate is an expert on effective management (with a passion for how to run a *good* meeting) and shared a few practices that have had a big impact on the employee experience at her company.
All new hires start on Wednesday, not Monday. They've found that many employees have just left their previous job the Friday before and this small break allows them the space to recharge before coming into a new environment. Additionally, Mondays and Tuesdays are often busy days for current employees and the mid-week start helps them be more present for the new team member's first day.
Lead with culture, not individual responsibilities. Instead of throwing new team members directly into the mechanics of their new role, Red Door spends three days integrating them into the company's culture. One important aspect of this is the hour (or more) Kate spends with all new hires sharing real, relatable stories about the CEO, how the executive team came together, and why specific company choices were made. These stories bring the culture to life quickly and in a very tangible way.
Defining your Core Company Values is key to developing both a strong culture and employee experience.
There's no doubt that company culture and employee experience are highly intertwined. I personally like to describe culture as "the way things are done around here" and employee experience as "how employees feel about the way things are done around here." Gary shared his experience with this first-hand, including the extreme impact uncovering and defining the core company values had on his business.
Defining your Core Values can lead to more trust and autonomy. Getting gapintelligence off the ground was anything but easy. In fact, it wasn't until Gary decided to lead differently (after reading Jim Collin's Good to Great) that his business finally began to succeed financially. Before establishing the company mission (or Hedgehog) and core values, he held tightly to every aspect of the business - working in it, not on it. Only once these core principals were in place, did Gary finally feel comfortable extending greater autonomy and trust to the people he'd hired - a move that ultimately allowed the business to flourish.
Core Values are only effective when they are actually lived. Many companies develop core company values out of a sense of obligation or see them as a piece of marketing collateral. Gary stressed that they are only effective when they are tied to specific behaviors and guide both big decisions (like hiring and firing) and smaller daily decisions (like workload priorities).
So many AHAs - yes?!
And these are only a few of the incredible insights shared that night. I'm so grateful to each panelist for sharing their wisdom and the incredible community that's been coming out to our monthly Culture Catalyst events here in San Diego.
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To happier employees,
Are you as obsessed with company culture as we are?