Take a break from figuring out what kinds of staff incentives and rewards to offer next quarter, and consider this instead: does your company culture need a refresh?

Because let’s be frank: if an impartial observer installed themselves in your offices for a week or two, listening to calls, sitting in on interviews, and monitoring everything from lunchroom chit-chat to the collaborative give-and-take at team meetings, would they describe your culture in ways that made you feel mostly proud – or more than a little mortified?

And what is culture – really, what is it?

Staff incentives and rewards are a part of the equation, sure. But no matter how many elevator pitches, brand books, or About sections you may have at the ready, culture remains ever-changing and hard to describe. It’s real, though – not just a buzzword. It’s real, but it’s invisible, kind of like your own personality is real but invisible. We learn who you are over time, by how you react, what you say and do, and how you make us feel. The same is true of your company.

The weird thing about personalities and company cultures is that in their mysterious and intangible ways, they’re the essence of who we are. In other words: they’re very important! And when you’ve got a “bad” one, people notice. And people talk about it.

Company culture affects everything from day-to-day productivity, your ability to attract new employees, and your current success with employee retention management. But here’s the good news: it’s a lot easier to change your culture than your personality. It’s not super easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but it’s doable. And more important, it’s worth doing.

(Improving your personality may also be worth doing, but that’s a subject for another blog.)

You may be of the mind that simply offering bigger and better staff incentives and rewards will automatically lead to an uptick in how your company culture is perceived. But culture goes above and beyond rewards and incentives for employees. Think of it as a broader, quality-of-life type of question:

How do people describe the overall experience of working at your company?

If you think there may be room for improvement on that front, read on!

Here are three ways you can boost your company culture:

1. Listen.
I bet you’ve heard or read about the notion of “listening to understand” versus “listening to reply.” I’m here to tell you there’s magic in this approach. Listen, truly listen, to your colleagues rather than simply waiting for your turn to talk (admit it: we all do this). Even consider spending a week pretending (within reason) that you are the above-mentioned impartial observer. Take yourself and your pearls of wisdom out of the equation temporarily and train your ear to better hear what other folks are saying.

SHRM recently found that 64% of workers polled thought leadership’s inadequate listening was the biggest problem in their workplace.

Listen to understand and, I promise, you’ll learn a lot. And spread the word about this magical way of listening so that, over time, it becomes part of how your company does business.

2. Be real.
Let’s go back to personalities for a moment. There was a time when I thought having a work personality and a separate, different weeknight-and-weekends personality was the way to go. I was under the impression that to be professional meant being a bit dull from 9 to 5. But it turns out that our distinctive brands of charisma can bring a lot of value to the workplace. Being our real selves on the job (again, within reason) puts others at ease, promotes a more enjoyable and creative environment, and beyond that, inspires productivity. So it’s time to drop the facade and just be you.

3. Give back.
Staff incentives and rewards can show your appreciation and your largesse. But don’t forget to also think small! It’s easy to be generous in small ways. Return favors. Say “thank you” instead of assuming everyone knows we’re often too busy to be overtly nice. Pick up some slack before being asked. Inquire about an ongoing project out of interest, not out of worry.

When you spend a few minutes each day taking action to be more giving, even in small ways, it can add up to a big deal. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together, and togetherness is an important and rewarding element of a fully functioning, grade-A company culture.

##

About YouEarnedIt:
YouEarnedIt is a SaaS HR technology platform that redefines the way companies engage with their employees. By providing tools to connect, reward, reveal and report in real-time, YouEarnedIt can consolidate employee engagement initiatives into one, easy-to-use mobile platform for teams of all sizes. Since launching in 2012, YouEarnedIt has delivered its flexible software to small enterprises and Fortune 500 brands across several industries. Visit youearnedit.com for more information or schedule a quick demo here.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Rebecca Beegle