HR STRATEGY - EMPLOYEE JOURNEY & CULTURE
THE BIG PICTURE ON EMPLOYEE JOURNEY & CULTURE
HR STRATEGY - CULTURE
Culture is not some fuzzy, intangible organizational concept. Culture is grounded in an organization's values, reflected by the norms, behaviors, and language of team members, nurtured by the environment team members work in, and reinforced by the organization's compensation and benefits. If you want to improve an organization's culture, then improve the values, norms, language, environment, compensation, and benefits.
Furthermore, an organization's culture should be reflected, celebrated and reinforced throughout the employee journey. If you get the culture and employee journey right, you set the foundation for happy, fulfilled, and productive team members.
Does your company have a value statement? Can all the team members recite it from memory? Is it reflected in the norms, behavior, language, environment, benefits, and compensation? If it isn't then the values are probably doing more harm than good to the culture.
Culture can make or break a company, so get the four building blocks of culture right. Any culture strategy starts with the leadership asking some tough questions about values, norms & language, the environment, benefits, and compensation.
Culture Strategy on One Page
The output of a culture strategy is a value statement, metrics/goals, and initiatives around norms & language, environment, and benefits & compensation. The metrics of a culture strategy typically come from employee surveys or feedback, with the goals set a stake on where the organization wants those metrics to be over the next year. The initiatives to help achieve those goals can emerge from employees and best practices.
How Does Google (#1 Place to Work) Do Culture
Google takes culture seriously. They have a People Analytics team to measure the impact of different cultural and employee journey practices. They may have a few too many values (below), but they are insightful, catchy and serve as a strong foundation for Google's culture.
Google has five stated norms of psychological safety, dependability, structure & clarity, meaning of work, and impact of work. Their norms reinforce their values.
Google spends significant resources and research on creating productive and collaborative environments. Just read this article on helping people make healthy choices in the cafeteria. Google needs top talent, and their benefits and compensation ensure that they can attract and retain that top talent.
The main point about Google, is the purposefulness of the leadership in crafting and nurturing Google's culture.
1. VALUES - THE FOUNDATION OF THE ORG
As Roy Disney, the older brother of Walt Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
What are the values that will help team members, individually and collectively, achieve the mission of the organization?
Frankly, most company value statements are generic, forgettable, and not utilized as the cultural foundation. If this is your company, start over, and spend some serious time brainstorming and engaging team members on what the soul and core values of the company are.
Once you figure out the core values, make them pithy, rememberable, and then celebrate them, internally market them, weave them into the organizational language, refer to them, utilize them in decision making, and embed them within the various strategies across the business model. Below is the values idea map, which may give you some ideas on potential values.
An Example of a Cool Value Statement
For a software company, we worked with the management team and employees to create core values that were authentic and important to team members.
Embedding Values into the employee journey
To have employees "live the values" embed them into the culture, employee journey and other strategies. Below is an example of how you can embed two values, in this case, problem solving and entrepreneurship, into every element of the employee journey.
2. NORMS - OUR BEHAVIOR DEFINES US
Norms are the widely accepted individual and interpersonal behaviors in organization, which should reflect the values. While values are the foundation of a culture, norms are the embodiment and manifestation of them within the culture.
A new employee views and feels a culture through the norms of how team members treat themselves and each other. The adage "lead by example" is crucial to the norms of an organization. People learn through mimicry, and leaders need to live the values and reinforce the norms of an organization.
Norms permeate through all interactions, including conversations, meetings, email, communications, events, projects, personal and external interactions.
Amazon's Meeting Norms
Early on in Amazon's history, Jeff Bezos, instilled very thoughtful norms around meetings. Valuing problem solving and productivity, Jeff enacted five norms for meetings. The details are in the graphic.
Imagine being a new Amazon employee attending your first meeting. You would probably be a bit shocked, but also appreciative of the purposefulness of the norms and ritual.
The point is, norms are where culture and reality collide. The more purposeful an organization is at defining and reinforcing the norms, the stronger the culture will become.
3. ENVIRONMENT - THE BIG, OVERLOOKED CULTURAL ENABLER
We often overlook environment as a strategic driver of culture, values, and organizational performance. As a society, we spend so much time, attention and money on the interior design of our homes. It is the complete opposite for workspaces, where millions spend 40+ hours a week.
Small strategic investments to workspaces can pay large dividends. Think about simple ideas, like putting up posters of the organizational values, employees living those values, recent successes, customer logos, and other messages you want to reinforce. You can name conference rooms after clients or the core values. Or, you can make meaningful investments to transform workspaces to be collaborative, supportive, and engaging spaces of productivity, like Google does (examples below).
The takeaway is to be purposeful in workspace design and decor. Understand what values or cultural elements you want the environment to support, and then build them into the environment.
4. COMPENSATION & BENEFITS - REWARD BEHAVIORS
Culture is about behaviors. You can utilize compensation and benefits to incentivize behaviors and reinforce the mission and values of the organization. Architecting an organization's compensation and benefits strategy takes a blend of analytics, benchmarking, budgeting, feedback, and creativity. There are many more options to comp and benefits (examples below) than one might initially think.
THE EMPLOYEE JOURNEY
Much like the customer journey is a core component to corporate strategy, the employee journey is a core component to HR strategy. At a high level, the employee journey includes recruiting, hiring, onboarding, development, evaluation and advancement. Companies with strong employee journeys help elevate and realize the potential of their team members, and utilize the employee journey to reinforce their culture.
To develop a strong employee journey strategy engage team members in diagnosing issues, coming up with goals, ideas initiatives, and executing the initiatives. An employee journey strategy comes down to answering four fundamental questions, which are below.
An Employee Journey Strategy
Strategy is simply the goals we choose and the actions we take to achieve those goals. Employee journey strategy is the same; define your goals and the necessary initiatives to achieve those goals. In the case of the employee journey, the data for the metrics/goals is typically a blend of data from employee surveys and empirically generated data (e.g., # of applications, hiring percentage, # of people certified).
Employee Journey Strategy Ideas
Below are some ideas to get you started on potential metrics / goals and initiatives across the employee journey. As with all strategy, it is important to prioritize those important goals with the largest gaps and the initiatives to close the gaps. Every organization has a certain amount of change they can successfully take on, so be very thoughtful on the number and sequencing of employee journey initiatives, along with the change management dynamics.
Google's Employee Journey
Google is the #1 place to work, in large part because of their focus on improving their employee journey. Check out some of their employee journey strategy examples.
CREATING A KILLER CULTURE AND EMPLOYEE JOURNEY STRATEGY
The output of a culture and employee strategy are goals and initiatives. The challenge comes in figuring out the optimal goals and initiatives that will help elevate and realize the potential of team members. Below are the four steps to a successful employee journey and cultural transformation.
Engage team members throughout the process, and especially in diagnosing and ideating. The more team member engagement, the more buy-in and higher change of transformational success.
HR Diagnostic Survey
The most important data in developing an HR strategy is feedback and ideas from team members. Stratechi's HR Diagnostic Survey is easy to set up and customize. It takes about 30 minutes to complete, covering all the elements of strategic alignment, employee journey, and cultural enablement. It creates a rich data set to diagnose issues and understand priority areas, which creating buy-in since priorities and ideas originate from team members.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON CULTURE & EMPLOYEE JOURNEY STRATEGY
Given the importance of elevating and realizing the potential of the individuals and teams that drive the development and execution of a company's strategies, embarking on developing a strong employee journey strategy is a no-brainer. In every company there is much upside in strengthening the culture and employee journey. Just be sure to engage the entire organization in generating, prioritizing and implementing cultural and employee journey initiatives.
DOWNLOAD THE CULTURE & EMPLOYEE JOURNEY STRATEGY TEMPLATES
To get you started on developing a killer culture and employee journey strategy, download the free PowerPoint, which includes:
1. Mission & Values Template
2. Culture Strategy Worksheet
3. Employee Journey Ideation Worksheet
4. Employee Journey One-Page Strategy
5. Employee Journey & Culture Strategy Overview