It is well-accepted truth that cultivating and maintaining a great culture for employees is critical for business success.
Companies with a great culture attract and retain the best talent. Employees are invested in the mission of the organisation, align to its values and feel fulfilled in their work. It is a virtuous circle that, in turn, leads to improved motivation and performance.
Leadership, values and of course the nature of the work (what the business itself does) all play a huge part. And there is a large body of research and case studies on how the best businesses have built and cultivated great culture.
However, we believe there is an additional ingredient to add into this mix – and it’s not just about the purpose of the business; it’s about how a company expresses the unique way it drives positive change and in turn, how each employee and team are connected to this.
So, does everyone in your business understand your purpose and how this aligns with your Responsible Business agenda? Can your employees articulate how their role contributes meaningfully to it? Is this being reflected through their everyday actions that, in turn, support your efforts to build a great culture?
Culture vs capacity
Senior leadership teams have a huge amount on their plate. Feedback from our clients is that a large part of the challenge they face is about how to allocate time and responsibility for such a diverse range of priorities that already includes: Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I), sustainability, volunteering, charity partnerships and the environment.
On the other side of this coin are employees who are already drowning in external emails and existing internal communications (not to mention Team/Zoom/Slack).
So, how can business balance this equation to reach a productive outcome?
Verity London has a simple framework to support clients, developed around what we believe to be the four most important factors for successful employee engagement:
Consult – the crucial first component of driving behaviour change and ensuring employees feel involved with your Responsible Business commitments, activity and impact – what is that your employees care about? What do they already know about your purpose, values and wider agenda?
Co-create – working together (not just the communications team in isolation) to evolve strategy, develop commitments, build initiatives and actions that encourage support at the outset.
Communicate – using accessible language, an overarching “story”, consistent terminology, developing a visual identity and understanding the channels and frequency to cut through the clutter.
Connect – building advocacy and champions internally to create feedback loops that keep the conversation going and enable people to get involved.
Using a practical framework such as this “Four C’s” helps resource and plan your employee engagement activity appropriately. It will also support your communications to really “land” with your teams internally, make an impact and support the development of your culture.
Culture and the value of employee networks
Given the competition for employees’ attention, companies should pay attention to the clarity and frequency of their internal communications and campaigns, to ensure they avoid “dilution”.
Many organisations now have employee networks around gender, sexuality, faith, disability and mental health, as well as more socially oriented groups. These networks are an increasingly important channel that can be leveraged for Responsible Business communications.
Not only are these hugely valuable to their members and in themselves; they also provide an excellent forum to consult with and co-create resources and content – a group of already-engaged employees that will help develop your communications, become advocates internally and promote action.
Working with your employee networks in this way (and in person) will help you hone your communications before emailing “all staff” with another generic announcement. This is thought through, co-designed, targeted engagement that won’t be a swift victim of the “delete” button.