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Identifying Culture, Implementing Change: Highlights From the Workology HRetreat at SXSW

Learning how to measure and effect change within their organizational culture is a high priority for companies nationwide. During the 2018 SXSW Conference, a panel of experts from Whole Foods, RetailMeNot, Businessolver and Weeva spoke with HR Break Room and Jessica Melo, executive director of sales training at Paycom, about this key topic at the Workology HRetreat.

Here are some highlights from their conversation on culture and the employee experience.

Identifying your culture

 Measuring culture is critical, especially if you want to improve it. But before your organization can measure or change it, it’s essential to define it. For example, in some organizations, the culture is based on core company values, while others may be more performance-based.

What’s most important is that the culture is clearly defined by HR and leadership. Take care to define which behaviors you’re looking for so your employees can invest in exhibiting those preferred values day in and day out. Once you have defined your organization’s culture, it becomes easier to identify the kind of top talent that best fits your organization.

One best practice to assist with identifying a “cultural fit” is to include a current employee in the interview process who isn’t directly related to the open position. This interviewer can focus on the candidate’s potential cultural fit. Recruiting talent that adds value to your organization’s culture will set the stage for a better employee experience, which increases the likelihood for a productive and engaged workforce.

Employee experience > employee engagement

 A common misconception centers around employee happiness. While employee happiness is important, it’s not necessarily a measure of culture or engagement. While culture is a collective experience within the organization, tied to performance and outcomes, engagement is a personal experience for each individual employee.

In fact, top organizations are shifting away from employee engagement and toward an increased focus on the employee experience. That begins with onboarding, and influences employee beliefs about their work, which drives their behaviors and outcomes. If organizations do not focus on those experiences from the beginning, they will use up their resources coaching people on behavior, instead of building an overall experience that leads to a more engaged and productive workforce.

 Implementing culture changes

 The best workplace cultures change over time and this flexibility can yield benefits. Companies that thrive during change are intentional with change management. That includes having a leadership team to keep key changes top-of-mind. When leading your workforce through change, it’s best to implement new elements incrementally and let employees master each step before they are asked to adapt further.

If organizations ask their talent to change everything all at once – to shift their worldview of their workplace and the current company culture – they risk operational disruption or losing quality talent. One way to prevent massive shifts during a transition is to provide middle-management teams with tools to communicate and implement change.

Need to know more about driving organizational culture change? Tune in to the latest episode of the HR Break Room podcast to hear the Workology HRetreat panel at SXSW discuss the difference between employee happiness and employee engagement, how to collect management buy-in for your culture initiatives and more.