Developing Employee Engagement and Culture

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Hannah Williamson

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25 Aug 2021

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“Culture” and “engagement” are consistently rated among the top priorities for HR and business leaders. Regardless of where we are as a society, the social order of a company remains important.

A good company culture shows that the business is reputation-led, employee-centric, and results-driven. All of these traits make for a successful business. But not only that—it’s also a good indication of how future employees will fit in your workplace.

in 2019, 42% of staff said they would rather work a 60-hour week than work for a company that does not value its culture – according to a survey conducted by Speakap. The study gathered responses from a thousand employees in both the UK and the US. This reinforced how powerful workplace culture can be when it comes to attracting and retaining staff. 58% of those surveyed admitted that they would take a job with a competitor who demonstrates a better workplace culture.

Don’t assume that these figures would have changed due to the pandemic. As we know, lockdown will have allowed workers to reflect on what they may want out of their job. This means culture may still be a driving force for where employers choose to work.

Culture & engagement

Definition

Culture is the sense of “how things are done”.

Engagement can be defined as “how employees feel about how things are done”.

Culture includes:

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviours
  • Reward systems that influence behaviour on a day-to-day basis

Engagement, on the other hand, is a way of describing an employee’s level of commitment to the company and their work.

The two are also connected. A company’s culture is aligned with its business strategy. This can lead to a high level of engagement if the workforce is comfortable in it. Initiatives to improve engagement will usually uncover cultural issues. If this happens, you should re-examine company values, incentives, systems, and structure.

Lack of understanding

Company culture is often misunderstood. Many of those who do understand it find it difficult to measure. Others find it tricky to manage and align their culture with the business’ direction.

The pandemic has certainly helped highlight where many businesses have fallen short. Now, many employers see a disconnect between where their culture is now and where they want it to be.

Recognising that company culture needs to change is important, but actioning that change is harder.

Successful companies often have a sharp focus on their culture and vision and take steps to redesign and articulate it. This is why the dating app Bumble recently made headlines.

Recognising the adverse effects increased workload during the pandemic has had on its workforce, Bumble announced that the business would be closing all its offices for one week to tackle burnout. Not long after, it announced unlimited paid holidays for all of its staff.

Not every employer will agree with Bumble’s methods. Not every company will be able to mimic Bumble’s methods. However, the business has built a reputation as one that seeks to prioritise engagement and culture. It puts its employees at the forefront of change.

Developing good culture and engagement

Bumble has found what works for its workforce and core values. However, the changes you implement don’t have to make headlines.

In fact, the following are also signs of good culture and engagement:

  • Ability to retain staff – low turnover
  • Workers eager to join the organisation
  • Existing employees feel they have job security
  • A good atmosphere in the workplace

Ultimately, there are many ways to develop good company culture, but at the core should be:

  • Company values that benefit both the business and its employees
  • Willingness to embrace changing times and a diverse workforce
  • Good HR practices rooted within the business

Conclusion

Traditionally, employee engagement and culture were brushed off as something HR needed to fix. Now, these are now firmly rooted as CEO-level issues, requiring commitment. However, even CEO-level change requires strong support from HR. Working together, you can better understand, measure, and improve accordingly.

This requires a detailed understanding of the connections between culture and engagement. It also means keeping one eye on what the competition is up to. Fundamentally, how well employers measure culture and engagement, and how quickly they act on employee feedback, could make a real difference. Failing to act could jeopardise efforts to raise engagement and develop good culture.

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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