I recently visited Tokyo with my husband, home of the 2020 Summer Olympics. It seemed like every tourist locale we visited was obstructed by scaffolding or other extensive renovations. Though slightly (emphasis on slightly because, c’mon, we were in Tokyo!) inconvenient, Japan is simply preparing for the throngs of tourists who are coming to their country to recognize the athletic champions of the world, who train for their entire lives to be recognized as the top of their craft.
If you care about improving company culture, it may feel like you are fighting to prove that it’s important to others at your organization. You know that the businesses who empower their workers are the ones who are recognized as the gold medal standard for a great place to work. But does implementing your culture strategy sometimes feel more like a culture battle?
Like the Olympic athletes, you may just need training to be recognized as a company culture champion at your business. While you probably didn’t start practicing employee engagement as a toddler like most of those sports stars (if you did, you don’t need to be reading this post), here are a few tips to help you train for better employee engagement initiatives.
1. Score your company culture strategy.
One of the most nail-biting parts of the Olympics is when the judges announce their scores. We’ve all witnessed a team coming just a few decimal points short of clinching a medal and the ensuing cheers and tears. The Olympics wouldn’t be nearly as great if, once a gymnast is done with their flawless floor routine, they were simply met with a “great job!” from the judges. In order to achieve Olympic standards with your employee engagement, you need a scoring system. This helps you benchmark where you are in your company culture training and celebrate when you’ve hit certain milestones.
You may already be scoring your employee engagement through an annual survey, but how great would it be if you could figure out areas of improvement or cultural wins more regularly? Think about it – Olympic athletes have to train for four years to find out if their judges’ scores improve. Don’t subject your company culture to the same schedule! Make sure you pair your annual survey with a more frequent survey, like a quick quarterly culture check-in.
2. Coach your cultural underdogs for engagement success.
Remember the U.S. “Miracle on Ice” team who defeated the renowned Soviet Union hockey team in 1980? Everyone loves a good underdog story. That hockey team has been the subject of countless books and movies, and all it took was one person to recognize these players’ potential and empower them to thrive.
In this instance, I’m not telling you to seek out one or two employees to take under your wing and mentor them into future CEOs of America. While that’s important, you don’t have time to individually coach every disengaged worker at your organization. Instead, I’m suggesting that you pinpoint a few groups of employees who may be less engaged at your business and focus your efforts on their improvement. Creating opportunities for feedback will help you identify those departments or branches of your business that are struggling and tailor your engagement initiatives and time to their specific pain points.
Encourage the leadership team and managers at your organization to make feedback the norm. Begin by setting up multiple touchpoints for feedback, from manager one-on-ones to company-wide meetings to employee surveys. Then, take action on that feedback to remind employees that their opinions are valued. Once your team realizes they have the power to voice suggestions or concerns in a safe environment, they’ll more actively volunteer insights in the future.
3. Do your research and prove the value of company culture.
The average Winter Olympics costs $3.1 billion to host, while the Summer Games can run around $5.1 billion. In the short term, hosting can generate more than $9 billion in revenue for a city, and improvements to city infrastructures, tourist attractions, and other accommodations result in years of residual tourism. But if you dig a little deeper, the opportunity cost of the other ways that money could be spent, as well as the long-term costs of maintaining sports facilities that may or may not find use, may not make hosting the Olympics a smart investment for all cities.
That’s one way company culture is very different—the more research you do, the better it becomes as an investment for your business, and for all businesses. Prove the value of a strong company culture foundation by showing both immediate and long-term benefits. For example, companies with engaged employees experience 50% less turnover than those with a disengaged workforce, and companies with higher scores on the Glassdoor Culture Index report higher stock price margins than those with lower scores.
Whether changes in your organization (like new leadership) are leading to decreased engagement or you want to retain your already great company culture through a period of rapid growth, do your research and prepare a few more facts about the value of engaged workers and how they will produce better business outcomes.
Build your winning team
Whether you’re a cultural rookie or a gold medalist in employee engagement, it’s important to know why a strong company culture is crucial and prioritize your plans to improve it. What are you currently doing to build an Olympian culture at your organization?