Establishing and maintaining a strong company culture has always been a building block for organizational success. However, at some point, leaders lost their way when it came to delivering the cultural components employees craved. Superficial gimmicks like ping pong tables in lavish break rooms and “free pizza Friday” became pervasive in workplaces across the country.
Though perks of this sort are initially appreciated, the allure fades in time, and employees are inevitably left wanting more. One of the most effective ways to fill that void and build the kind of culture employees want to be a part of is to be sincere and transparent with the company’s strategic communications efforts. Today, we’ll dive deeper into how strategic communications influences culture and offer up some tips on practical tactics that can take your culture to the next level.
Employees want to feel involved and valued
For a lot of us, it feels like we spend as much time toiling away on work projects as we do those related to our home life. When someone devotes that much of their life to something, it’s only natural for that person to want to feel like they’re involved in what goes on. It’s essential that leaders find ways to harness the power of strategic communications to peel back the curtain and enable employees to feel involved and valued. Employees who feel involved in the decision-making process are not only more engaged in the business but also less fearful about the future.
Provide regular updates of substance
When we talk about the influence of strategic communications on culture, it’s important we make it clear that transparency doesn’t mean you have to tell employees everything. There are, of course, aspects of the business that must remain confidential for various reasons. What it means is being upfront and honest about things that matter to employees through regular updates.
There are a number of ways to accomplish this, including company-wide internal communications and stand-up (or virtual for telecommuting teammates) meetings for employees to ask questions and contribute to the conversation. Still, the most direct way to be transparent with employees is through data. Try assembling a weekly or monthly key performance indicator (KPI) report that compiles hard data on your most important metrics. Delivering this progress report to employees on a recurring basis will ensure employees are always kept in the know on company performance. This tactic also illustrates to employees the impact their individual efforts are having on the company’s success, which satisfies that need of wanting to be involved
What happens to company culture when transparent communications are lacking
There’s no doubting that COVID-19 had a devastating impact on businesses across the country. In fact, from October 2020 through January 2021, about 25% of companies saw sales sink by 50%. And sadly, many of those businesses ultimately folded as a result.
While strategic communications may not have been enough to change the fate of those companies that did go under, it could have certainly helped. Consider the scenario of a company facing sagging sales, whether it’s due to a COVID-like pandemic or just normal competitive conditions. When this happens, the first thing to occur is usually conversation among frontline employees. As rumors about layoffs and closures spread like wildfire, morale plummets, company culture crumbles, and productivity falters. It’s a vicious cycle that can spell doom for any company teetering on the brink.
Now, imagine that same scenario, but with transparent and strategic communications interspersed throughout. Employees are no longer left to wonder about the state of the company because they’re receiving weekly updates via a KPI dashboard detailing what aspects of the business are hurting. Armed with that information, engaged employees working in a culture of transparency won’t hesitate to use those stand-up meetings to bring new ideas or suggestions to leadership about how to right the ship.
We should also mention that culture bumps occur thanks to strategic communications in both bad times and good. So, while investing in employees through transparency can yield dividends when the company is facing layoffs or leadership changes, the same can be true when it’s time to celebrate record sales or longevity milestones.
Interested in using strategic communications to prop up your culture?
Let Heart & Hustle Brands help.
About the Author
Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.