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Culture Matters for All Employees in All Roles

Recognize This! – Culture must reach outside the office walls to impact, inspire and direct the actions of all employees.

HR Pros out there – do you read TLNT? It’s one of my daily go-to sources for news and insights on all factors of the Human Resources world (which is why I voted it the best Human Resources website and encourage you to do the same).

The latest article to peak my interest dug into why company culture isn’t “warm and fuzzy.”  Author Kimberlee Morrison is responding to a comment on an earlier post about culture development. The commenter said:

“Culture may seem warm and fuzzy. Emergency service workers, shift workers, construction workers and those who don’t inhabit an office cubicle are generally uninterested in ‘cultural evangelism.’”

Kimberlee disagreed with the commenter, as do I. Indeed, it is precisely with these employee communities – those outside the office cubicle – that culture should matter most. What else is it that binds these distributed and literally disconnected employees to the organization? (Just look at the heat Marissa Mayer is taking for ending flexible work arrangements in an effort to restore company culture.)

Let’s look more closely at those employee communities Kimberlee’s commenter specifically mentions and see why culture matters more to them.

  • Emergency service workers – These heroes work in very difficult conditions to save lives, usually for relatively low pay. While it’s unclear what we’re referring to here (firefighters, EMS/ambulance drivers, police), culture defines the attitude by which they do their job. EMS workers, for example, can be working within a culture of “just get people to the hospital fast” or one of “spend time to do what needs to be done in the field.” Those are very different cultures that direct the behaviors of the workers. Culture matters.
  • Shift workers – These people are working off-hours without as much direct supervision or broad oversight. Yet their work is critical to complete (otherwise, why would you have them working in shifts). The way in which they complete the work during their shifts (the behaviors they demonstrate) need to align with those during “regular hours” or the end product will be different. The culture must carry through for all employees, regardless of shift. There are ways to ameliorate this, such as overlapping shifts by a half-hour for transition meetings or celebrations of successes.
  • Construction Workers – I am sure a culture of safety pervades any organization involved in construction. On site, in the field, all workers must focused on safety at all times. Yet many programs to reinforce safety fail because they are rewarding the wrong thing. Safety is a narrow example of a broader culture that employers should be consciously working to proactively disseminate and reinforce among their employees, wherever they are.

What other roles do you see in which culture is particularly important, especially when the employees involved aren’t located in a traditional office setting?

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