For most businesses, it’s easy to produce a list of products and services on offer. It should equally be as simple to show the gains coming from those products and services. But, it can be hard to put a number to the less tangible assets of your company.
This is one of the reasons that intentionally creating a company culture often gets neglected. A sense of culture develops in every workplace, whether it’s intentional or not. It’s an organic process that takes form on its own. Businesses that take time to coherently develop culture can steer it to their advantage.
What is a culture of care?
Building a culture of care means creating an environment where people feel valued, not just customers and clients, but those within the organisation too. It leads to customer loyalty, and employee retention, and makes you stand out in the market. This can also include a remote team culture.
It starts with connecting people to the company’s mission statement. You should already be communicating what your company is all about through a focused, actionable mission statement.
The next piece is helping people discover how they fit in with that mission statement. If your mission statement is ‘change for a better world’, then how do your employees become part of that change, and what does a ‘better world’ look like for them? How are you showing your customers that your changes are creating that better world?
How to create a culture of care
Making a personal connection is key to the culture of care. A great way to accomplish this connection is through storytelling. Stories are a deeply integrated part of any culture. People remember and retain information in story form far better than lists of facts and figures. If I simply say that I went to the store today, you aren’t likely to remember or even care about my trip to the store. However, if I told you that I went to buy mayonnaise and there was a clown in the condiment aisle, blowing balloon animals, you’ll probably recall my strange experience the next time you’re shopping. That is the power of storytelling.
Sharing the history of your company and the stories of your employees is a great way to make a personal connection. This can be done through creative art installations (you could even hold an art contest), weekly newsletters highlighting employee accomplishments or a series of presentations. A charity auction or chilli cook-off can even be a way for employees to share what they’re passionate about while uniting around a common cause.
A culture of care involves not just broadcasting your message, but also listening to input. People feel valued when they feel they’re being listened to, not just heard. Offer avenues for personnel to get involved in decision-making, or at least a window to the process. Meet with staff at different levels to explain issues your company might be facing, big or small, and give opportunities for constructive feedback. Employees in entry-level positions often feel neglected by management and uninvested in their company’s success. This is one reason for the high levels of turnover in these types of jobs. By allowing entry-level staff to become part of the process, they’re more likely to feel invested and more apt to stay with the company.
Giving your staff the tools to succeed in their jobs is another important component of showing care. You wouldn’t hire a systems administrator and then not provide them with a computer and access to your systems.
So, why not focus on the impalpable things your employees need to succeed as well? Establishing and giving access to professional development opportunities shows that you care enough to invest in the futures of your team members. Recognising success shows that you’re paying attention to the effort your workers put into their jobs.
Your company’s culture of care should be evident starting with your hiring process. Rather than letting an algorithm choose who becomes part of your professional family, hand-pick the applicants who fit in with your company’s culture. Encourage your current employees to refer new hires. If their mindset fits in with your culture, they likely know others who think similarly. A good, cohesive team focused on the same mission will be more successful than trying to herd cats.
Often, abstract aspects of doing business, such as a culture of care, escape business owners and management. However, they’re vital for not only an effective workplace but also for a happy and sustainable one. Now that you know what it is and how to create one, it’s time to get to work.
Lee Chambers is an environmental psychologist and well-being consultant. He is the founder of Essentialise.