Why entrepreneurs should compete on culture

By October 31, 2017Insights

Compete on culture is really an easy way of saying “a workplace culture that employees want to be engaged in that’s better than the competition.” Focusing on employee engagement and workplace culture is not fluff, it’s the right thing to do. Why? Because happy employees make happy customers. Here’s a stat for you: a fully engaged employee unlocks their discretionary effort and increases their performance by 40%. Not only that, your customer satisfaction significantly goes up and so does your bottom line.

Now, drink the Kool-Aid for a moment and read on. Hopefully some things will inspire you…

Let’s first focus on your company brand. Here’s a spoiler alert: your company culture is your brand. You used to be able to put information on your website or make a fancy brochure and tell the story that you wanted to tell. In today’s world, you don’t own your brand anymore. Your employees do. Every social media post they create, every Glassdoor review they write, and every conversation they have, they are telling the story and your potential candidates are listening. And that’s just on the attraction side. On the retention side, LinkedIn makes it easier than ever for recruiters to find your employees. So now you need your employees to be so engaged in your organization that they are never actively looking for a job. Not only that, but that they would say no when a recruiter comes calling.

But what is culture? It isn’t having office parties, giving away t-shirts or bringing in donuts for everyone. It goes deeper than that. People don’t stay because you have a great holiday party. People stay because they filled valued. People stay because they are connected to your mission and your purpose. People stay because they have opportunities to learn new things and they are trusted to get the job done. To make that happen, you must be authentic. Authenticity means investing in your employees and actively making a great place to work. It starts with trust. Trust is shown when employees see that their opinions count and that they are free to do their job. If you have trust, everything else can fall into place a little bit easier.

Now let’s focus on employees who are top performers. You want to everyone to be accountable to your high standards. If everyone’s accountable to that standard, then all you’ll have are top performers on your team. With a fully engaged employee, they are a top performer. And it’s a fact that top performers attract other top performers. So how do you feed and care for these top performers? You let them go! Between technology and work-life integration, these employees want a huge amount of flexibility in the organization.

Think about this…how close can you get to living the statement “as long as you’re getting your work done, I don’t care how, when or where you do it?” Here’s the crux—it’s a heck of a lot easier to allow when you have nothing but top performers on your team.

So, how do you get there? You need leaders willing to hold your teams accountable yet also guide them through these high expectations. It’s truly akin to our company’s favorite story and motto: The Buffalo Mindset. Changing your culture and figuring out a better way to do it seems like this huge, daunting task. If you just take it piece by piece, it soon will be a win-win for everyone. It’s a win for the employees because now they have a great place to work. It’s a win for the company because their employees have unlocked their discretionary effort and putting it towards your business. So, I challenge you to be brave and charge into the storm. I promise the blue skies and the sun feel pretty great!

Sarah Coakley

Author Sarah Coakley

More posts by Sarah Coakley