Unleashing the powerful bond between culture and engagement to boost your brand
If you’re in the corporate world, the terms “organizational culture” and “employee engagement” have undoubtedly invaded your office and your inbox.
When your industry turns valuable terminology into buzzwords, they’re often stripped of their meaning. Let’s take a step back to explore the concepts of culture and engagement, examine their power to make or break the success of your business, and dive into the steps you can take to activate brand culture through strong engagement.
Defining culture and engagement
The best cultures are embodied rather than dictated
Yo-Jud Cheng in Harvard Business Review defines culture as, “the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways, it unleashes tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and it fosters an organization’s capacity to thrive”
Culture can be expressed in both tangible and intangible ways. According to a 1990 American Psychologist paper, Culture is comprised of an organization’s shared values, underlying perceptions, feelings and behaviors and finally, observational artifacts—such as dress code, symbols or stories. Cultures can be described in many ways – as collaborative, imaginative, innovative or strict, for instance.
At Monigle, we believe that no culture is right, wrong, or better, but rather that the strongest cultures are those with the highest level of convergence and alignment between employees, leadership and business objectives. In other words, it doesn’t matter what your organizational culture is, only that employees are on board with it and that it’s propelling you toward your organizational goals.
A well-defined culture acts as a guiding framework for behavior and decision-making within an organization. It establishes norms and expectations that help employees understand what is valued and rewarded, and what is not. This clarity enables your workforce to align their behavior with the organization’s objectives, promoting consistency and efficiency throughout the company.
Learn More: Brand Innovation Begins With a Culture Shift
Engagement as the catalyst for culture
While some think of employee engagement as attendance at company events or participation in benefits programs, we define employee engagement as a measure of cultural alignment.
Employee engagement delves deeper into the fundamental aspects of an organization’s culture, evaluating the degree of harmony between employees and the company’s values, vision, and mission. It reflects how connected individuals feel to their work, their level of commitment to the organization’s objectives, and their motivation to give their best efforts.
Genuine employee engagement transforms individuals into advocates for the company’s culture, embodying its core principles and convictions. Their commitment to acting out the culture has a ripple effect throughout the entire workforce. Engaged employees are inclined to go above and beyond, actively seek opportunities for personal and professional growth, and cultivate a positive and productive work environment.
Metrics such as loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction serve as great measures of engagement, but the importance of measuring emotional engagement shouldn’t be ignored:
- How closely does an individual’s vision of the organizational culture align with that of their colleagues’ and leadership’s vision?
- Are they aware of the ways in which others describe the culture?
- Do they agree with it and actively contribute to it on an ongoing basis?
By measuring and tracking engagement on an ongoing basis, an organization is better equipped to address any potential cultural gaps that could be rising to the surface. It is about really listening to employees, hearing them when they tell you what is working and not working, and taking specific action to address their feedback.
Driving revenue through culture and engagement
Culture and engagement are inextricably intertwined. One without the other is rendered ineffective. Culture sans engagement is unenforceable and essentially useless. It would be as if you hosted a party but didn’t invite anyone to come.
Engagement without culture, on the other hand, is aimless. Without a guiding purpose, your team’s passion will burn out quickly, leaving them frustrated that their commitment isn’t contributing to a greater organizational good.
When the two work in synchrony, however, your organization can better serve your customers, retain employees, optimize and develop new products and service offerings, and ultimately drive more revenue.
For example, Adobe fosters a culture that prioritizes creativity and innovation. By empowering their employees to think outside the boundaries of their existing products every day, the company has established itself as a market leader in various industries, and expanded their product portfolio beyond traditional creative software into areas such as digital marketing, analytics, and e-commerce.
Because employees are active participants in their culture, Adobe is constantly providing new and comprehensive solutions that meet the maturing needs of their customers, allowing them to capture greater market share and pump diversified revenue through the business.
Marrying culture and engagement to solve modern business challenges
Cultural alignment and employee engagement play a vital role in solving and mitigating some of the biggest challenges facing organizations today, such as an evolving cultural landscape, brand transformations, and siloed teams and departments.
Today’s business ecosystem is advancing faster than ever, driven by factors such as globalization, technological advancements, and changing demographics. Organizations need to adapt to this shift by fostering a culture that is inclusive, diverse, and adaptable to tap into the varied perspectives, experiences, and talents of their employees, which leads to enhanced ingenuity and more impactful decision-making.
This rapidly changing environment also requires brands to transform to stay competitive and relevant with their core customers. Implementing a successful brand transformation requires a deep understanding of and alignment with the organization’s culture. Employees who are on board with brand identity become brand ambassadors, embodying the organization’s values and attributes in communications with customers and stakeholders.
Siloed teams and departments are another significant obstacle to organizational success. When teams or departments work in isolation, it hampers progress and forward thinking. Cultural alignment can break down these silos by promoting a sense of unity and collaboration across the organization. When employees are engaged in company culture, they bond over shared values with staff members outside of their immediate teams and together find more creative solutions for business problems to drive customer success.
Keys to a successful merger of culture and engagement
- When looking to evaluate or evolve either your organization’s culture or strategy, it’s important to strike a balance between who you are right now, and where you want to be. Strive to be aspirational, yet realistic, or else risk remaining stagnant. It is important for businesses to build a culture that matches their brand. This can be done by using values as starting points for drafting your own unique core.
- Think bottom-up and top-down. Culture doesn’t start and stop at any one level in the organization. While some companies may be inspired by a unique leader or founder and emulate that person’s behavior, others are shaped and defined by the frontline employees themselves. The same goes for strategy – leadership may have a different idea of the path forward, while employees may maintain a more realistic view of what’s possible.
- Codify, measure, and measure again. While it may be difficult to capture your culture or strategy in words, sharing a consistent description is the best way to gain alignment and agreement at scale. A consistent description also allows for tracking over time, to see how employees identify with and feel about the organization’s culture and level of success against strategic goals.
- Be dynamic. While your brand values will likely remain consistent over time, the ways in which they’re communicated and disseminated throughout your organization should evolve based on what is and isn’t working, and other transformations occurring within your organization.
- Lead by example. Ultimately, your employees are more likely to emulate behaviors that are demonstrated by real people than that are asked of them in brand guidelines. Leadership needs to walk the walk as much as they talk the talk to both earn the respect of their staff and motivate them to embody the same values in their work. Aligning actions with your organization’s cultural aspirations goes a long way towards fostering trust and openness at all levels of the organization.
At Monigle, culture and engagement are a core consideration in every brand project we work on. They provide the foundation that a brand is built on. Not only do culture and engagement determine the direction of the brand, these organizational vitals ensure a brand transformation bridges the gap between where the business is today and the goals they are striving to achieve tomorrow.
Are you ready to leverage the power of your brand to reach your next organizational milestone? Reach out to us here to chat about transforming your brand through culture and engagement.