"Which work culture initiatives take the least amount of time to implement?" "How can I change my company culture quickly?"
These are questions that Great Place to Work Culture Coaches hear a lot. Often, when we help with a company's culture transformation, the client wants to see a quick improvement in some areas.
The short answer? Give the people what they want.
Our experience has shown that the cultural initiatives that are the smoothest to implement and adopted most quickly are the ones your employees ask for in employee engagement surveys and that management fully supports.
Ask and listen
Your first step should be to ask your people about their workplace experience with our Trust Index survey. Then listen to their responses by diving into your survey response data.
Leaders need high-level understanding, but it's not enough to stop there. Drilling down into the results by demographic and employee comments will give you a more precise and nuanced view and help avoid blind spots.
For example, at a high level, you might learn that your employees don't feel like they are encouraged to balance their work life with their personal life. That's helpful on its own, but by cutting the data closer, you can learn more.
You might find that for Generation Z in the workplace, balance means managing stress and being able to switch off. But more moms and dads, it means flexible working hours and paid parental leave.
You go from finger painting to a detailed portrait when you consider the unique experience of each group in your workplace.
Get leadership alignment
Make sure that leaders critical to the success of the plan have a clear understanding of what you are proposing and emphasize the "why." Link your proposal to business goals and leaders' individual goals.
Use industry findings to demonstrate the connection between workplace culture and business results. Back your idea up with data - this is where Great Place to Work research comes in.
Finally, make space for questions. In the field of organizational culture, you're never done listening. Leaders may have doubts or concerns around what you're proposing. Make sure that they get what they need to feel comfortable with the initiative so that they can be all-in.
If one of your company values is work-life balance, leadership will likely be aligned and want to fix this issue. That's excellent news. Most culture initiatives fail because leaders don't understand the crux of the matter and there is a lack of buy-in from above.
Longevity pays more than speed
Many practices can theoretically be "implemented" overnight, but what's more important is how effectively they can be sustained.
A manager could start cross-collaboration lunches to discuss work-life balance tomorrow. They might decide that everyone on their team needs to leave the office by 7 pm and no one can send emails on Sundays.
But without buy-in and formal systems of accountability to ensure fidelity, these practices will probably wither away by the following month.
Build to last
If you want to ensure impact and long-term cultural change, shift your focus from quick fixes. Instead, address the needs and goals of your people that leaders throughout the business (most importantly at the very top) can get behind.
You will have much more success applying initiatives that stick and go company-wide. And that matters more than what you can get done in the least amount of time.
While these initiatives can take longer to get off the ground, you can wind up saving time (and money) because the programs you've created are built to last. Think of all the hours you'd save from inventing, persuading, and adopting new ideas after others crumble.
Need to understand the issues that matter most to your employees? Want to drill down by age, role, or gender to get to the heart of the matter? Learn more about how our employee survey and culture management platform can help you make the most of your workplace.