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Ask the awkward questions to improve your company culture

Do you have a suspicion your company culture needs a revamp? Or do you want to continue fostering a secure and productive environment for your employees? The younger generations of workers aren’t staying at companies for 30-40 years like their parents – millennials and gen Zers have no problem bouncing around to find the perfect culture fit for them. Partly because of this, many companies deal with quick turnover. But a high-turnover rate is expensive, and employee burnout is contagious.  To create or upkeep the environment workers are searching for, you need to understand your areas for improvement in your company culture. 

Sometimes as a boss, you need to be introspective to gain a clear, unbiased outlook on the state of your company environment. Whether you like it or not, your mood, decisions and personal professional values are some of the main drivers of overall company culture.  

Let’s Talk about diversity and equality in the workplace.

Diverse professional environments fosters creativity, new ideas, productivity, and a more accepting company culture. Yes, talking about diversity can be uncomfortable (especially when you know your company has space for improvement). It can be easy to stave off the lack of diversity as a product of your location, or the better culture fit of other candidates. To take the emotion and bias out of the equation, simply focus on the numbers. 

Chances are, you won’t be super proud of the results of every single question on this list. But, understanding the areas for improvement is the most important part of awareness and setting new goals going forward.

If you statistically lack diversity but are still coming up with reasons and excuses for why that is the case, it’s time to look inward again. Try out this exercise: write down the most influential professional role models you have in your life – people you have a relationship with and have shaped you into the professional you are today. Now, do a scan of the demographics of that group of role models.

Our beliefs and opinions are rooted in our personal experiences. We build off what we know. If that above list is a majority straight white males, it may be time to accept that you could have a limited perspective on the importance of diversity. This limited perspective makes it more important than ever to understand the benefits of diversity and detriments of a lack thereof.

Using the information you’ve gained above, you may decide to pull in the opinions and perspectives on your team. Use this time to see if your perceived strengths and weaknesses of the company culture match the experiences of your team. 

 Benefits of having an open dialogue with your team

Increased Job Satisfaction

Asking how and if your team takes advantage of your office culture reminds your team of the pros of working for your company. You can list all the support and office culture pros all you like in your employee manuals and job applications. But, if no one feels comfortable using the opportunities you offer, they will have just as little job satisfaction as an employee that doesn’t have the perks.  By having the conversation, you are effectively giving your team permission to use these freedoms. 

By asking employees to reflect on times they were proud of their work, it can re-ignite some passion for their job that day-to-day stresses can cover up. Opportunities to step back and think about the bigger picture of WHY your employees do what they do in itself can be enough to increase job satisfaction. To take that idea further, it allows people to talk about where they hope to be in the future – helping you understand who wants to be in it for the long haul and if they are being empowered by management to work towards these personal and professional goals.

Respect for the company

One major cause of employee burnout is the lack of communication with upper-management. Studies show that the employee that is listened to is the employee that stays. By creating this channel of communication straight to the individuals who can incite change within the company, you are communicating to your employees that their opinion and experience within the company matters.

Find new areas of improvement

By simply asking the questions, you are offering a supportive channel to bring up other suggestions to improve employee turnover and job satisfaction. Suggestions from your current employees can give you incite on why your current employees stay, and what company culture strengths can attract quality applicants going forward.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I congratulated an employee on professional results? When was the last time I asked about or supported an employee’s professional goals?
  • When was our last team or department bonding activity?
  • When was the last time we discussed the team or department ‘wins’ as a group?
  • Of all the people we hired this year, How many were women? People of Color? 
  • Of all the raises that were granted this year, how many were to women? People of color?
  • Of all the internal promotions that were offered this year, how many were offered to women? People of color? 
  • Did our company recognize, acknowledge, or celebrate Pride month? Black history month? 
  • Does our company respect and recognize Christian and non-Christian holidays?  

Questions to ask your team:

  • When was the last time you and your direct superior discussed your professional goals? 
  • When was the last time you asked for a schedule leniency (coming in late to drop kids off at school, doctor’s appointments, etc.) 
  • When was the last time you felt proud of your work? Were you recognized for it? 
  • When was the last time you or your team failed at something? How was it dealt with?
  • How do you feel about your ratio of team collaboration to independent work? 
  • How do your rate your level of work-related stress during work hours? After work hours?  
  • When was the last time you reached out to your superior on an issue? How was the issue handled
  • What qualities do you see in your coworkers that you’d like to cultivate in your own actions?
  • If you could choose a colleague to coach you on a particular topic, who would you choose and why?
  • What aspect of our company culture do you feel doesn’t live up to our expectations?

Asking the awkward questions to yourself can be hard, and involving your team can be harder. But by empowering everyone to talk about change, you give them accountability to incite change. Start the conversation, hear the perspectives, and grow from both your strengths and weaknesses as a company. If you have any questions on company culture, reach out to our team!

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