Culture, as it applies to the workplace, is about much more than free snacks and dress codes. The culture of a company is largely shaped by the mindset and attitudes of each person within the business.
It follows then, that to improve your company culture, it’s crucial to take stock of what’s going on inside the heads of your employees. Here are five simple questions you can ask them to find out:
1. What aspects of your job bring you joy?
There are staunch advocates of the happiness advantage, the idea that happy people burn the brightest and are the most productive. Knowing what brings joy to the people in your company is not only important for your culture but also for your bottom line.
Asking this question brings the focus to employee satisfaction. When employees are asked to zero in on the most positive parts of their roles, the exercise can help uncover new processes and practices that support employee growth and achievement of their goals. This practice can help increase employee satisfaction, and satisfied employees leads to customer satisfaction. All of this adds up to a foundation in your company culture of positivity and happiness.
2. How have you experienced the values of our company this week?
Values, in a business context, are defined as important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Asking this question keeps these values top of mind for everyone in the company. Knowing this might be a regular question subliminally forces employees to recognize how company values are being demonstrated through internal decisions and interactions with clients. This practice of value recognition can also act as the guiding force behind employee actions and conduct. One example, for instance, might be that transparency is a core value at your company. Asking this question can uncover how transparency is being experienced and recognized by employees. Perhaps through team-wide announcements, or meetings acknowledging wins along with failures. Understanding how important transparency is to the business, employees feel encouraged to be open and honest with their superiors and their own colleagues. Having your team take note of values is the best way to cement them in your culture.
3. What process can be fixed or improved?
Processes are meant to make things run consistently and smoothly. Your team is the frontline of these processes and they can tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about the processes running your business.
Even if something isn’t broken, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Adopting an attitude of continuous innovation and improvement instills critical thinking in your team.
Adam Bryant, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote about a culture hackathon that tasked employees with tackling a project, big or small, to improve the company (and to complete it in 24 hours!) One team created an app to organize team coffee and lunch runs while another took a run at improving expense reporting. Allowing your employees to speak up about process empowers them and keeps them constantly thinking of ways to make things better for everyone.
4. When do you feel the most motivated?
Another important aspect of company culture is creating a highly motivating environment or reward systems for your team. This question allows employers to take a peek inside what works for incentivizing their team. A possible way to answer to this question could be “I feel most motivated after a refreshing lunch break” or “when I know the deadline is close.” For one person, long lunch breaks are the answer and perhaps for another, it’s stricter and shorter deadlines. More broad answers can showcase core motivations such as “when I know there is a bonus or commission” or “when my work is recognized” where money and prestige are needed to push employees to work their hardest. What gets one person moving isn’t what gets another person moving. You need to know what motivates your people and create a culture that is flexible to accommodate these unique needs.
5. How do you tell your family and friends about our company and what we do?
The drill with small talk usually includes the following question: So, what do you do for a living?
For your company’s sake, it’s a good sign of a healthy culture when your employees share a consistent story across the board. Chances of this are pretty slim but what you can extract from the varying answers are the weaknesses in your company’s narrative.
According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, culture is directly related to its narrative. So in order to spot areas for improvement, start by finding out how your employees describe the company and culture to their friends and family members.
These five questions may not seem like much, but they could make all the difference in shaping your business. Regularly checking in with employees about these topics will help everyone to feel heard and acknowledged.
This article is by Lauren Lee Anderson from 15five.com.