5 Pillars for Building a Positive Culture: HR Unplugged Ep. 7

Your workplace culture—that is, all the interactions and perceptions that create what it’s like to work at your organization—is extremely important to employees, especially prospective ones. According to a recent survey by TeamStage on culture and job seekers:

As Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR, explains: “Whether you call it out or not, your company culture has an impact on what you’re doing on the attraction but also on the retention [side]. The companies that are surviving this Great Resignation have a great culture. Everyone else is just trying to catch up.”

In episode seven of HR Unplugged, Anita discusses why building a positive culture at your organization is a critical role for HR leaders, and provides five strategic pillars to get you going in the right direction. Here are some highlights from the discussion.

Watch the full episode to enjoy all of Anita’s insights on building a positive workplace culture.
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How to Measure Your Company Culture

Whether you’re just starting to focus on company culture or it’s been a priority for years, ask yourself the following questions to figure out how you’re doing on the culture front.

The companies that are surviving this Great Resignation have a great culture. Everyone else is just trying to catch up.” –Anita Grantham

The Five Pillars for Building a Positive Work Culture

Building a positive work culture can impact and improve so much at your organization, including:

So how can you capitalize on all these benefits? Anita suggests these five pillars for building a positive work culture.

Pillar 1: Mission

A good place to start when you’re ready to build a positive work culture is your mission statement. While your vision tells the organization where you want to go, your mission gives clear direction for how to get there. Your company mission should be action based and declare your organization’s purpose or path.

Actionable Tip

“Ask your founding team or your CEO where they want to be by a certain date. Then have your team members weigh in and give feedback on what it will take to get there. This can help everyone get on the same page and help your founder or CEO own the mission of the organization,” says Anita.

Pillar 2: Talent

When you know your organization’s mission, you’ll have a much better idea of who you need to help you get there. “The only way I can retain and hire people into an organization of any size,” shares Anita, “is to understand where we’re going. You can’t build culture without direction.”

Actionable Tip

Get a clear view of who is at your organization. “You want to know how every employee you have at your organization, or those you bring in, either adds to your culture or takes away from it. I believe that turnover in the first 12 months is HR’s responsibility and after 12 months, we need to look at the leadership,” says Anita.

Pillar 3: Compensation

Compensation is one of the critical foundations of employee experience. Low pay was the top reason U.S. workers left a job in 2021, and 37 percent of employees say that compensation is a major reason they leave their job. Additionally, “compensation is one of the most complex parts of our job. And it’s one of the areas we, as HR leaders, are the weakest at,” Anita comments.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be the organization that pays the most in order to have the best culture. Instead, talk about your commitment to pay philosophy. This gives people the opportunity to choose whether they want to come onboard or not.

Actionable Tip

Look at a specific role in your company, and find the highest and lowest paid employee for that role—that will give you a range of payment. “This will teach you a lot. Are more people at the top of the range or towards the bottom? Do you have a bell curve? Go assess, and then you can evolve your pay practices to where you really want to be,” says Anita.

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Pillar 4: Benefits

Nearly 80 percent of employees say they’re more likely to stay in their current role if the benefits are attractive. But how do you stand out from the crowd? “You can do a few things to differentiate, but you need to be competitive on the core benefits,” says Anita. “You have to decide where you want to play. Are you ahead, at, or behind market on the benefits spectrum? And why are you selecting that position?”

Actionable Tip

Align your benefits to the needs of your employees. “Think about your use cases and why people are at your organization. Survey your employees once a year, and find out what they love and what they want to see more of,” Anita recommends. “This is critical information for you to have.”

Pillar 5: Leadership

“This is all dead in the water without leadership,” says Anita. To be able to build a great place to work, you need to start from the top down. “As HR leaders, all of our programs succeed or fail based on leadership buy-in,” says Anita. “So it’s critical that the leadership team is committed to creating a culture where people are excited to come to work.”

Actionable Tip

“Ask yourself if you’re being the best leader you can be right now, because the leadership offered by HR is critical,” Anita reminds us. “People naturally mirror what they see happening. It’s your actions that mean everything for your organization.”

Catch up on the last few episodes of HR Unplugged by listening to episode 5 and episode 6. And register now to join episode 8, “How Leadership Defines Culture,” live on September 27 at 11 AM PT.

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