Company Culture Leadership

Here’s how to tell if your company needs a culture change

culture change

Culture change can be a tricky thing to ponder when you’re trying to keep your business afloat from one day to the next. Surely your time would be better spent drumming up new clients or going over the budget rather than checking to see whether your employees are happy working at your company?

Well, to be honest, if you’re having operational issues, it could very well be worth your while to head down to the canteen over lunchtime to catch up with your workforce and find out how they’re doing. Here’s why. 

Statistics tell us that highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable, and that only 9% of the South African workforce is actively engaged. Of the 91% who were disengaged, 45% were actively disengaged (i.e., very negative about their job environment and likely to spread the negativity to co-workers).

This is not good.

In fact, the situation is so dire that it’s estimated that actively disengaged employees could be costing the South African economy as much as R700 billion in lost revenue per year. You can almost feel your bottom line cringe at the mere thought of it. 

All statistical fear mongering aside, employee engagement is something that every forward-thinking enterprise should be focussed on in 2020 and beyond, and it all starts with a solid corporate culture.

Let’s take a look at the day-to-day benefits of culture change, and pinpoint a few warning signs you should be looking out for at your place of business: 


5 Important day-to-day benefits of culture change

There are plenty of intricate philosophical benefits associated with a positive organisational culture, but there are some real, everyday benefits as well. These include: 


  1. Improved individual productivity. 
  2. An overall increase in employee satisfaction. 
  3. Improved client satisfaction due to boosted team work within the company. 
  4. Better employee retention, reduced churn and lower recruitment expenses.  
  5. A less stressful work environment and fewer absences. 

10 Things that indicate a culture change is in order:


1. Success is measured by the absence of mistakes

Risk-averse workforces are not known for being hubs of creativity. When a successful day is one in which no one makes any mistakes and every goal was ticked off exactly in the order it was set, no one is going to be taking wild leaps and colouring outside the lines (which is where the innovation magic happens!). 


2. The procedural manual is the ultimate playbook

Policy and procedure are necessary elements of every successful business, but when it becomes the only thing that matters there is very little scope for creative collaboration on a day-to-day basis. 

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3. No one is talking to the people who leave

Exit interviews are a very important part of the employment cycle. Make sure that your HR department is taking the time to discuss each employee’s reason for leaving. If you find that there are recurring cultural concerns that crop up, make a point of addressing them immediately. After all, if you want to retain your top talent, you need to know what’s happening on the grassroots level of your enterprise. 


4. HR is not exactly a warm and fuzzy place

Discussions with HR should not only be about rules, policies, salaries, leave and benefits. Your employees should feel free to knock on the door of this vital department to address conflicts, work-life balance, toxic encounters, and ideas for internal innovation. If this is not encouraged at your company, make a point of making sure that changes. 


5. Managers are coaches rather than cheerleaders

If your managers are spending more time instructing and supervising than inspiring the troops, you've got a problem. Ditto if all your employees are under the impression that a manager's word is set in stone. Your managers should know their teams well and understand their vibe. There should be regular communication apart from the annual performance review and employee engagement survey. 


6. There's a crazy amount of focus on small stuff

If upper management is more concerned about arrival times and whether everyone is wearing the right skirt length and dress shoes than team cohesion and employee satisfaction, a culture change is definitely in the cards. 


7. Toxic competition is the norm

Sure, a healthy measure of competition among coworkers can spur on achievement, but when this goes over to the dark side and your employees start to fear for their livelihood as a result thereof, it’s time to hit the brakes.  


8. Leadership is assumed, not nurtured

The leaders within your company should be evaluated just as frequently as their team members. Check in with your employees regularly to ensure that your leaders’ managerial styles are in alignment with your company's purpose. If you find any discrepancies, nurture new leadership techniques by offering more training, etc. 


9. Your company mission is vague

When no-one knows what the company is ultimately aiming for, it’s fairly unlikely that they will be able to grasp the importance of their contribution. Every person who works for you should be well-versed in the overarching vision, mission and purpose of your business. 


10. Work and life are completely separate things 

When an employee’s parent dies, or their child is seriously ill and you only hear about it months after the fact, you have some serious cultural issues to attend to. This means that employees in your company likely get constant reminders that their employment is at the whim of their managers and that their personal lives are their own problems.

So, to sum it up, you should be getting serious about culture change if you notice that: 


  1. There is no room for mistakes. 
  2. Creative collaboration is stymied by procedure. 
  3. Exit interviews are a paint-by-numbers affair. 
  4. HR rarely focuses on the whole employee. 
  5. Managers instruct more than they inspire. 
  6. The nitty-gritty is more important than the big picture. 
  7. Employees hustle mainly because they fear for their jobs. 
  8. There is a lack of skills nurturing among your leaders. 
  9. No one is quite sure what your company mission is. 
  10. Employees feel they have to keep their personal challenges under wraps. 

Stepping in to address issues like these is a good way to ensure that your corporate culture benefits your team members and boosts company performance by increasing your bottom line in the long run. Keep your eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for more expert insight into optimal leadership, employee engagement, reward and recognition, and more.  

In the meantime, if you want to take action to improve organisational culture at your company from the inside out, we would like to invite you to take a look at our SaaS-based employee recognition platform.

This culture-boosting tool has been developed to make culture change a breeze for forward-thinking managerial teams. Best of all? We’ll let you try it out completely free of charge! Simply click the button below to get started 👇

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