Program Best Practices

Highlights from Culture First Tour [EVENT RECAP]

The world’s most innovative companies have a new competitive advantage: culture. Are you on-trend?

If culture is what wins the race, helping your company build loyalty amongst current employees and stand out to future talent, how does your company stack-up?

We partnered with Culture Amp for the Culture First Tour in San Francisco, an interactive day dedicated to learning how to modernize the workplace through people-first strategies; preparing attendees for the new challenges that emerging trends in HR are creating.

Why Culture First?

The Culture First Tour provided incredible strategies for companies to ramp-up their company culture - attracting talent, retaining talent, and creating a more engaged workplace. Why? Because inspired, motivated employees result in increased engagement rates (score!). More tips for calculating the value that engagement brings to your business in our latest eBook here. After a great day of networking, content, and Zeel chair massages, here's a recap of our our main takeaways from the conference:

1) Building Culture Begins with Your Values

A culture-first company starts with their ability to embrace the growth of their people. Didier Elzinga (Culture Amp's CEO) discussed that this growth can be achieved by “sweating”your company values - creating a clear definition of how you want your culture to be, and weaving it into your day-to-day behaviors, communication channels, and processes. Didier shared that the most impactful values aren’t the mantra values of Respect, Leadership, etc. that you'll see commonly used (or abused) across tech companies - it’s about creating impactful company values that are unique to you. A few tips we're recommending when revisiting your company values:

Values should be authentic:
Values should reflect your individual culture, company mission, and personality. When writing values, consider bringing on a representative company task-force diversified by role, seniority, tenure. Ask task-members what they believe the company stands for, what makes them excited to come to work everyday? What values do they like, which don’t feel right?

Values should be dynamic:
Values should not be static. If you’re part of a high-growth company, you know that your business objectives will change over time, your headcount will expand, compress, and hopefully expand again, and your entire business offering might take a pivot (or two, or even three). As your company goes through periods of change, take a moment to reflect on your values. Return to the task-force model, and refresh the group. Ask members, do these values still represent our team? Do these values build excitement, loyalty, pride for the company? Or do we need to make changes based on our current state?

Values should be visible:
As Didier shares, employees should want to sweat for your values. But how can they sweat for something they don’t know exists, or that doesn’t feel connected, or authentic? Start by posting values publicly through common spaces in the office. From there, consider baking them into performance reviews (i.e., with a percentage of the employee’s rating linked to their demonstration of values), and weave them into your daily conversations. When values are visible, employees are more likely to keep these top of mind, living the values and ultimately driving real value back to your business.

At Blueboard, we use Growbot to send peer-to-peer recognition and props over Slack. We encourage recognition givers to tie their recognition event back to one of our core values. Here’s an example of “props” shared between our awesome Concierge teammates as they achieved some pretty big personal milestones for employee rewards scheduled during their company tenure, featuring our company value of “Create an Exceptional Experience”. You can get to know all of our core company values here.

Hear Didier share more about values at Culture Amp plus three things that all Culture First companies should do here on the Culture Amp blog.

2) Building Culture Should Be Your Top Priority

Regardless of your size or stage, it’s important to build company culture to engage with talent outside of your company walls. Here's why:

Culture give you an edge in a competitive talent market:
To meet the high demand for incoming talent, culture has to become a primary focus of development. Positioning the value or incentive to work at your company is crucial to recruiting talent and posing yourself as an “attractive” company. People are searching for companies that reflect their personal values, through recognition and aligned culture, mission and workplace vibe.

Job-seekers are more informed about your company culture than you might initially thing; as Vas Natarajan (Partner at Accel) stated “Great people do their homework”. Employee experience is a growing factor on the candidate’s checklist. Everything is visible to prospective candidates via tools like Glassdoor, so positioning your company’s culture across employee review sites betters your chance of acquiring top-notch talent.

Culture improves loyalty:

A strong culture leads to increased employee loyalty for the teammates you already have. It costs way too much (up to 9 months salary) to replace an employee after they leave. Even more reason to promote and prioritize a healthy, authentic culture to engage your existing employees. Beyond internal loyalty, engaged employees provide great value to your business. How much exactly? Calculate your engagement ROI through our latest eBook.

Culture is a consideration when raising capital:

Depending on your company’s stage and financial plans, understanding an investor’s perspective on evaluating company culture can help you position yourself to receive future funding. Vas Natarajan (Partner, Accel) and Dasha Maggio (VP, Founder Success, Felicis Ventures) walked us through an investor’s process of evaluating company culture. Investors look towards their network and public conversations (again, on public sites like Glassdoor) for the majority of their culture evaluation - meaning what your employees chat and share about your company may direct your evaluation. Evaluating how a company manifests their values and missions is a main contributor to understanding the culture of the company.

3) Creating an Attractive Company Culture Won't Happen Overnight

Becoming a culture-first company takes self-reflection and internal discussion and planning - it won’t come easy, or overnight. Listening and encouraging employees to share their perspective on culture (through engagement surveys like Culture Amp's) helps to define what their employee experience looks like in the workplace, and helps you design a culture-first employee experience modeled from the needs of your current employees.

Next up? Determine which levers, tools or tactics you’ll implement to begin building a more positive workplace culture. Employee rewards and employee recognition programs are a low-hanging fruit that that not only lend to culture building, but are also proven to motivate and retain top talent.  

3 Tips for Implementing a "Culture of Recognition"

1. Bringing an employee rewards and employee recognition program to your company can be streamlined through data - bring your point home by presenting your case with data that backs up current recognition sentiment and feedback. We share tips here for digesting your engagement survey data specific to recognition learnings and insights.

2. Once established, make it easy to share employee recognition stories - promoting socialization, leading to employee engagement and increased adoption down the road. At Blueboard, we enable program admins to have access to Recognition Stories- photos and videos from employees taken on their Blueboard experience. These assets make for great internal marketing collateral and proof of your program’s success in building a more positive culture.

3. Utilize Bluebeard's knowledge in bringing culture to life through meaningful recognition - we’re by your side from the start; guiding you through program planning, rollout and adoption, as well as #CreatingAnExceptionalExperience for every rewarded employee through our celebrated Concierge team.If recognition is on your list for building a more positive culture, we’d love to connect. Just reach out via the Request Demo button up top ^^, we can’t wait to learn more about your goals.

Until next time!

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