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CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

July 2015

DOES YOUR CULTURE NEED A CHECK-UP?
Four steps to creating a healthy organizational culture
By Ashley Engler, Vice President, Employee Engagement
Creative and quirky. Competitive and hard-working. Determined risk-taker. These could be adjectives you use to
describe yourself on LinkedIN…or words that companies use to define who they are, how they operate and how their
employees act, feel and behave. It’s organizational culture and it’s critical to success. In fact, 60 percent of executives
believe that culture is more important than strategy and operating model, according to a 2013 Booz & Company
survey. Yet less than half said their companies manage culture effectively, and 96 percent think their company’s
culture needs to change.
Savvy executives and communicators aren’t sitting back waiting for culture to change on its own or for disengaged
employees to cycle out. Instead, they proactively create healthy cultures in which employees feel a connection to the
company, to their colleagues and to the world. The end result is a culture that helps deliver on a company’s brand
promise and business strategy. Here are four steps to set up a successful cultural transformation.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE SYMPTOMS.

STEP 2: DETERMINE THE CAUSE.

Just as a physician starts by asking a patient to describe

If you checked “yes” to any of the boxes in Step 1,

their symptoms, consider whether your company is

culture could be the culprit, but it’s important to

experiencing any of the following, which may be

diagnose the root cause of such challenges before

related to culture:

moving forward. How? By connecting directly with your
employees. I know you’re thinking, “not another survey!”

 Decreased employee engagement scores in
surveys or other feedback mechanisms

Indeed, survey fatigue is a very real ailment when
employees are over-polled and the results under-

 Low employee morale

reported, leading to a lack of trust or confidence that

 Increased turnover and defection of top talent

anyone is listening or taking action.

 Difficulty recruiting new talent
Simple pulse surveys can be a tool in your diagnostic

 Negative employee comments on social media
and job-rating sites about their work experience

process, but also host small focus groups with a crosssection of employees. This creates an environment in

 Decreasing employee referrals for new hires

which employees can articulate challenges as they see

 Poor transparency into how decisions are made

them, which is hard to do via surveys. Also check out

 Reduced cooperation and collaboration among
colleagues

what employees are saying in exit interviews or “off the

 Limited innovation or pipeline of employee ideas

what happens if you Google “your company’s name +

 Decreased customer satisfaction and/or
increased complaints

culture”?

 Falling market share that cannot be explained by
external forces

STEP 3: DECIDE WHAT “HEALTHY” LOOKS LIKE

 Few synergies realized following post-merger
integration

healthy” plan, get your stakeholders aligned on a

record” on social media or job rating sites. Even simpler,

Diagnosis in hand, before diving into your culture’s “get
common definition of what constitutes a successful
culture at your company.

© 2015 Edelman

What values should guide everyday work? What

Start from the top. Ensure senior leaders understand, support,

behaviors should employees and leaders demonstrate?

and consistently model desired culture and behaviors.

Be sure to include employee feedback in this process.

Organize a governance committee of leaders to act as a
sounding board for key decisions and help drive the

While each organization is unique, listed below are traits

transformation, with local networks supporting site-level

that healthy cultures generally tend to share. Compare

activities.

the values and behaviors you aspire to with those

employees about them! This shows that leaders are

actually in practice at your company. Areas with the

committed to change and that this isn’t just another

biggest gaps between your current and desired culture

initiative.

Moreover, when you create these groups, tell

are where to focus transformation efforts.
In healthy cultures, employees who feel a
connection to their company:

Make it real: Help people connect with the abstract
concept

of

culture

by

creating

a

moment-in-time

commitment event. Encourage leaders to publicly pledge
specific commitments they will carry out in support of the

Contribute maximum effort

Are aligned behind a shared vision, strategy,
direction

Leverage open channels for two-way dialogue
and feedback with senior leadership

Understand what drives the business and how
their specific role and contributions support the
strategy

…And a connection to their colleagues:
..And a connection to their colleagues:

transformation. Ask employees to share tangible examples
of how they support the new culture. This can take many
formats – from “selfie” photos to videos to even poetry (yes,
we’ve actually seen it.)
Tell a story: Harness the power of storytelling to illustrate key
behaviors in a highly personal way. For example, to
encourage a culture of smart risk-taking, have leaders open
up town halls by describing a time they took a chance in
their personal or professional lives. Ask employees to pick

Share knowledge efficiently and effectively

Collaborate across business units and among
employee groups

next year and document their experiences.

Are empowered to improve innovation and ideas

Make it relevant: Finally, make sure your culture is reflected

Bridge silos and maximize individual and group
contributions

at every touch point across the employment lifecycle - from

Make continuous improvement a way of life

to rewarding the right behaviors through recognition

one of the company’s values, commit to living it over the

attracting candidates who share your organization’s values
programs and embedding these behaviors into HR and

..And a connection to the outside world:

Deliver service levels that exceed customer
expectations and are motivated to win new
business

performance management processes.

ABOUT US
Edelman

Employee

Engagement

helps

organizations

accelerate business performance, delivered by highly

Empowered to connect with and service
customers in new ways

engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making

Recruit new hires through positive word-of-mouth
and help to retain top talent

employees with the company, with each other and with the

Improve overall reputation and credibility

engagement specialists develop engagement strategy;

meaningful,
outside

trust-building

world.

Our

connections

global

network

of

connecting
employee

deploy the tools and processes to deliver it; create the
multimedia channels and content that support it; and

STEP 4: DETERMINE YOUR TREATMENT PROGRAM.
Now that you know who your organization is and where it
needs to go, develop a plan to get from Point A to B.
Generally accepted treatment options include:

design the insight mechanisms to measure it.
For

more

information,

visit

us

at

ee.edelman.com,

follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at
employee.engagement@edelman.com.

© 2015 Edelman. For more information, contact us at employee.engagement@edelman.com.