February 10, 2017

Achieving the Corporate Culture Ideal: An Individualistic Approach to a Cohesive Whole

Today’s high-performing people look for organizations that create environments in which they can be their authentic selves. They seek cultures that adapt to the way they want to work. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they are happy to look elsewhere. According to LinkedIn’s 2015 report “Why and How People Change Jobs,” 36 percent of job changers left their organizations because of dissatisfaction with their work cultures.

Corporate leaders and HR professionals now face the challenge of creating cultures that meet the individual needs of multi-generational, diverse workforces, while also engineering this individualism to promote the achievement of their companies’ objectives. Doing so means meeting each person where he or she is, and putting plans in place for their development. It’s been my experience that young people want the same treatment as more experienced people -- the same flexibility, benefits, and recognition for hard work -- while more seasoned people want to feel engaged and valued, even if they’re not looking to climb any higher on the corporate ladder. A strong culture will meet all of these needs.

To begin to address peoples’ needs and create that individualistic, yet collective beneficial culture, talent teams need a new playbook, one that includes the following strategies:

1. Adopt a Performance-Based Ethic

Organizations must connect the performance of talent with business performance, which will create an environment where people actively want to succeed. By allowing people to apply their unique approaches to the delivery of a common outcome, organizations help them feel valuable and satisfied.

Performance-oriented cultures may rely less on titles, seniority, and tangible perks like paid time off in favor of the intrinsic value of a sense of accomplishment for a challenge overcome or a job well done. Creating a sense of accomplishment requires engaging people in measuring their own progress.

2. Establish a “Work How You Want, When You Want” Mentality

This idea isn’t new, but in many industries it’s a hard one to manage. Managers can find it nerve wracking to give people the freedom they want when client deadlines loom.

But trusting people to meet expectations, deliver quality work, and meet deadlines, are crucial to building their confidence and encouraging them to take responsibility for, and measure, their own performance. Letting people manage their time and work processes the way they want to infuses in them a sense of their individual importance to the operation and motivates them to do their part. And the flexibility people gain from employers that trust them is invaluable: a whopping 97 percent of people responded to the 2015 FlexJobs Super Study that a job with flexibility would improve their quality of life.

3. Understand that Tenure Doesn’t Matter the Way It Used To

Traditional thinking held that the longer someone stayed with a company, the better it was for both the person’s career and the well-being of the organization. More experience must translate into more productivity, so we thought. But it didn’t prove to be the case. Job-hopping is accepted now -- even expected -- as technology has increased the pace of change in business and society and opened the door to new career opportunities. Advances in technology have also helped to level the playing field between new people and senior ones, as they enable new people to get on board and make real impacts on the business more quickly. Finally, technology has also normalized the way work is done from company to company, so it’s much easier for people to take their skills down the road to the next company if they are unsatisfied with the experience and culture at their current employer.

Despite this new work reality, too many companies still structure benefits based on length of service. We must think differently, and creating a performance-based culture allows us to do so.

4. The Individual and the Organization in Harmony

It has always been a challenge to achieve the right balance between a person’s satisfaction and organizational goals. While the challenge endures, I think it’s clear in today’s work environment that a culture that prizes the individual is key to success. We expect personalization on so many levels: in the ads and content that reach us through social media, in the way we configure our personal devices, in the way our banks serve us, and more. It makes sense that we expect it at our jobs.

Organizations that create cultures that honor and respect all people for who they are and for the unique value they bring to the company generate work environments that make us want to do a good job. These environments encourage personal development, and personal development of its people translates to organizational growth.



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