HR the engine that drives workplace culture

Sometimes, when we talk about workplace culture, there’s a tendency to detach ourselves from it. It’s just a general feeling or idea that “just exists” in an office or worksite, outside of anyone’s real control. There could be a charismatic leader who encourages certain kinds of behaviour, or there could be a pervading sense of “this is how we do things around here” from long-serving employees.

The truth, however, is that HR is the engine that drives workplace culture. Senior leaders down to line managers have a role to play, but it’s HR that needs to be delivering the insights to leadership teams on how they can build the right kind of organisational culture. So, what are we measuring and how do we use these insights to improve workplace culture?

Mission critical

Your organisation’s mission isn’t just a mantra you repeat in your marketing campaigns to customers. It should be the direction you want your organisation to move towards by following through with objectives, achieving goals and aligning with your strategy.

Do your employees understand that this is their mission as well? Are you hiring new employees based on this mission? How often do you discuss this mission internally? As an HR leader, you need to be finding ways to contextualise your organisation’s mission for every department, team, and every individual employee.

You’ll never know if you don’t ask

Employee engagement surveys have been around for a while, but that doesn’t make them old hat. While HR is an innovative field, there are some tools such as employee engagement surveys that will always be useful for getting a measure of your workforce’s engagement levels.

Even in today’s environment of open plan offices and open-door policies, your people’s real feelings, issues or concerns can easily go unnoticed unless you provide them with a means to provide you with anonymous feedback. Getting people’s thoughts and feelings on workplace culture is the first step to improving it. The next step is to explain to employees the concrete steps your organisation is taking to address their concerns.

Room to grow

We know that one of the biggest trends in HR right now is continuous learning. With disruptive technology and constantly fluctuating economic conditions driving instability in every marketplace, organisations are increasingly looking for greater levels of innovation and agility. The best way to foster that agility is to create an organisation that places a high degree of importance on learning and development.

While your employees can use their new skills and knowledge for bringing great results to your organisation’s bottom line, the effects on your culture are profound. People perform at their best when they feel their organisation is invested in them. An investment in your people’s learning and development is an investment in organisational culture, and it’s an investment that pays significant dividends.

Linking your organisation’s mission to employee engagement surveys and learning opportunities will put your organisation on the fast track to having a high performance workplace culture. HR can put itself in the driving seat of workplace culture by using technology to link these components and provide timely insights about their effects to senior leaders.

This article was written by Presence of IT's Dean Gray on LinkedIn.