Let’s imagine you’ve got a new job. However, it’s not just any new job but it’s your dream job. You’re pumped and ready to go. Yet, by the end of the week you’re deflated and disheartened. In your interview, you were told about how great it is, how everyone pulls together and it’s just like being part of a family. But it turns out that work family unit is not very welcoming to new people. Instead, people are polite but not friendly and you feel like you’re going to be the outsider for quite some time. Sounds familiar?
It’s not surprising as this phenomenon is more common than you might think and more often than not it boils down to one word: culture.
Culture is the bedrock of any company. But founders often forget a key consideration, which is how accessible it is. Culture that is accessible to certain groups, and not others, can strengthen cliques and make others feel left out even further. A recent Careerbuilder report actually revealed that 43% of workers say their office is populated by cliques.
As a business owner, you hope all your employees feel motivated in what they do, produce good work and, above all, enjoy it. Your worst nightmare is finding out that the office politics are getting nasty or certain people are feeling left out and excluded from the rest of the company. However, a company that has its culture nailed doesn’t tend to have this problem. So, how can companies ensure that their culture works for all and everyone feels included?
Firstly, you need to forensically understand your culture. To do this, you need to take the pulse of your workforce by collating all your data. This will include the basic metrics such as employee absences, retention and turnover. If you have this data, it will be valuable for spotting patterns that you can analyse. This is so you will be able to spot the gaps in the data you may be missing such as employee engagement or satisfaction levels.
When capturing this data, it’s crucial to think about diversity – are you capturing the experience of different employee segments such as age, disability, ethnicity and gender?
Also, do you have any existing data on cliquey groups or not, from previous one to ones or employee surveys? If not, ensure this is part of the exit interview or other one to one meetings there may be.
As a business leader, you will now need to map out your own time. How much time do you spend on HR admin compared to face-to-face time with employees? Can this admin be cut by automating tasks or using technology, to allow more time for the important one on one conversations? Some recent research from breatheHR, a HR software platform, actually revealed that CEOs of SMEs are losing a fifth of their working week to HR admin tasks. Within a small company, it will be easier to spend some time with everyone. However, the bigger the company gets, the more important it will be to spread your time fairly across the teams.
From here, try to define your company culture and where you want it to be. This means identifying its purpose beyond profit, by thinking about what different internal groups would say about the company culture and what emotional hooks differentiate your business.
Now you’ve analysed the employee data, know where your gaps may lie, and pinned down what sort of culture you want to nurture. Next, you will need to map out all aspects of your employee’s package. This is to pre-empt any negatives around the business that can lead to a poor company culture.
If you begin to spot cliquey groups or hear from people that there may be an issue, there are a couple of things that can be done to improve this. Re-distributing team members across the office could help disperse cliquey groups and allow other to spend time with one another who may not normally. Also, introducing schemes such as a ‘buddy system’ will help to form cross-team relationships. The buddy scheme sets up employees as buddies from different teams and encourages them to spend time together over lunch or coffee to talk about work issues or anything outside of the workplace.
So, to be able to offer the dream job that actually is what is said on the packet, it’s important to make your company culture accessible to all.