We often get called upon for guidance on how to assess a business owner’s company culture. Whether it be a culture that they want to maintain or change – they need insight. A business owner usually starts the conversation with a list of actions they have engaged in to get to the heart of what their team thinks about their work culture. In almost all cases, it is a sincere effort. However, for many, the ability to put their finger on it is elusive. Why? We believe that no matter how great the business leader is, they still hold the ultimate power of signing the paychecks.
Getting to the Heart of the business
To really get to the heart of what the business owner wants to know, we firmly believe, they need to outsource who is asking for the input. That is where a Human Resources partner comes in. We meet with each employee, one on one; to hear what is working, what isn’t, and what the company needs to start doing. One may respond with, can’t that be gathered in an online survey? Maybe, but the data won’t be as rich. Using an online survey is just a platform with questions, it can’t read the tone or ask follow-up questions to dig deeper. An online survey platform to gather feedback is useful if a relationship with an outsourced HR partner is established; for instance in a follow-up scenario to measure progress. An online survey platform simply doesn’t replace the verbal and non-verbal communication of a face-to-face survey. We’ve been told time and time again by employees – “I had no intention of sharing all that I did but I feel better now that it is out there!”
Discovering what is working and what isn’t
At Milestones HR, we conduct a lot of Voice of the Employee Surveys. Whether it is on a screen meeting or in person, we get to the heart of what is working, what is not, and what a company needs to start doing. We ask insightful follow-up questions to get to the root cause. From there, we identify the frequency of patterns in that feedback. We use those patterns to create an action plan. We then meet with the business leader(s) to share the patterned findings and action items, allowing them a path forward.
It’s an ideal outcome for all involved. The employees get to confidentially voice their experience in the company’s culture. Doing so often offers a release and fosters renewed engagement and hope. The business owner gets a true preview into what is going well, where there are opportunities, and a plan of action to move those opportunities for improvement forward.
Why not be proactive?
In a period of time when there are myriad articles highlighting “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” why not be proactive? Knowing what is retaining your current employees, what could drive them away, and marketing your culture to future employees is a proactive step in the battle for talent. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How does your culture feel? Is it in alignment with your vision?
By: Angie Addison, SHRM-CP, PHR