Research has long identified corporate culture as one of the key determinants of employee engagement and retention. Since the onset of the pandemic, with many teams shifting to remote and the “Great Resignation” causing intense labor competition in some industries, corporate culture matters more than ever before. Today, corporate culture is an important factor for 46 percent of job seekers, with millennials prioritizing “people and culture fit” above everything else.
Ironically, even amid the Great Resignation, many companies are still scaling and growing at unprecedented rates. Rapid growth can result in both organizational and task-related change, which can affect corporate culture in a myriad of ways.
The Connection Between Corporate Culture and Employee Satisfaction
Corporate culture, also known as company culture and organizational culture, encompasses a company’s values, behaviors, and habits. A mentor once told me corporate culture is not what is hanging on the walls, but what happens and how it happens inside the walls.
It is built over time through shared and similar experiences that help in determining what works and what doesn’t at the organizational level. In other words, from an employee perspective, whether written down or an unspoken understanding and agreement, it is the personality and heartbeat of an organization.
It’s not surprising that statistics show corporate culture has a direct impact on employee satisfaction and turnover. According to a Columbia University study, the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with high company culture is only 13.9 percent, whereas the probability of job turnover in low company cultures is 48.4 percent.
The reasons are simple: happy employees tend to have higher productivity rates and do more than the bare minimum. And leaders who foster a strong corporate culture show a deeper appreciation for their employees. It’s a win-win scenario.
What Are the Challenges Associated With Rapid Growth?
Rapid growth can be spurred by investments in a company, hiring of additional team members and the launch of new products and services. With rapid growth, new tasks, goals, and objectives form, and this often changes what an employee’s typical work day looks like.
Without proper planning, organizations can experience increased turnover, decreased productivity, talent gaps and resistance to change.
When corporate culture is established, rapid growth periods will test the current corporate culture and will help to evolve it further. These periods may also identify areas in the corporate culture that can improve and grow as well.
By retaining a focus on employees during rapid growth spurts, positive culture can remain intact and actually flourish. Open communication, proper change management and a true commitment to employee wellness can empower organizations to grow, adapt and unite.
Maintaining Corporate Culture as an Organization Grows
No matter what period of growth a company might be experiencing, as leaders it’s important to remember what we do, why we do it, and who we are. With rapid growth, it can be easy to focus on the newest objective and lose sight of the original purpose of the company.
Keeping the original mission in mind while also being open to and flexible about growing will help to maintain the corporate culture.
Embedded in retaining company culture is effective change management and communication. Employees who are given the opportunity to feel connected to the growth, development and success of the organization feel a significantly higher sense of accomplishment and engagement than those who do not.
By encouraging employees to understand, engage and contribute to the evolution of the organization they feel more connected to its success. This solidifies positive culture and drives strategic initiatives by connecting everyone in the organization to the core mission.
In addition, it’s important to encourage veteran employees to become corporate culture leaders. Because corporate culture forms over time through those shared and common experiences, employees that have been with the company through different growth phases need to incorporate the corporate culture into the onboarding and training of new team members and serve as “culture champions” of the organization.
Change Management guru John Kotter explains that a guiding coalition of employees with strong leadership skills, credibility and top-notch communications skills are essential to bringing organizations through rapid change.
The right culture leaders can help to define what the future looks like, connect people to that vision and inspire them to make it happen, together.
Amanda Lappi is the HR Manager and culture catalyst at Health Payment Systems Inc., a healthcare technology company located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Amanda’s first role at HPS was in administration and she soon found a passion for HR in seeing how the culture of the company shaped the operational results of it. Amanda took the initiative to pursue her degree in Human Resource Management and now leads the HR function for the company as it enters its 15th year and begins its national expansion. Amanda embraces being a coach-player and brings this pursuit both in her professional career as well as her volunteer activities.
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