How HR can lead workplace culture change
On International Women’s Day 2022, UK organisations tweeted in support of women everywhere. But the Gender Pay Gap bot (GPG bot) re-tweeted their key Gender Pay stats. And many didn't make good reading. It was a real lesson in the importance of having a transparent company culture. And how as HR, you can lead that culture change.
Increased remote working. More hybrid teams. Many workplaces are changing and office-based is now just one of the options. So building a culture of genuine openness and communication is essential. And this isn’t about saying one thing and doing another. Organisations must truly commit to a transparent company culture. One that brings business benefits and exceptional employee experience (EX).
But there are challenges to achieving this. As the HR Director, you’ll need to educate and influence as you lead that change. So here are the key things you need to consider:
- What a transparent company culture looks like
- The challenges of transparent cultures in hybrid workplaces
- Leading your business to a transparent company culture
- Linking your culture to a great EX
How to spot a transparent company culture
HR leaders everywhere know the benefits of great company culture. Higher engagement. Better productivity. Greater customer satisfaction (CultureIQ). Your challenge now is how to make it transparent.
Forbes outlines five factors:
Clearly communicate the company's vision and mission statemen. Define your vision using clear, simple language. Share it. And make it memorable. So every employee can repeat it.
Issue accurate reports. Be honest. If you've got a gender pay gap, acknowledge it. Identify the issues. Set deadlines for closing the gap. And publish salary ranges for jobs. Also, don’t pay lip service to flexible working. Encourage employees to use it. And celebrate examples where it works brilliantly.
Deliver on-time information. Circumstances change. Companies must make tough decisions. And employees understand that. But be open about the business challenges. Employees are experienced and innovative. So invite them to suggest solutions. And then use them.
Provide important documents. Annual reports, finance documents, brand strategies - make them all available. Host Q&A sessions to build understanding. And invite live questions. Provide unscripted answers from senior leadership, not pre-written comments that undermine trust.
Create trust through social media. The GPG bot forced UK businesses to respond openly or delete the original tweet. A transparent culture uses social media to its advantage. Address bad reviews on Glassdoor. And not by suggesting offline discussions. Call out the issues so you can address them, head-on. And use awareness days to promote genuine efforts. Jumping on the bandwagon will just make you the poster child for next year’s bot.
Creating a transparent culture is not straight-forward. It takes “collective effort to foster and maintain” (Glassdoor). But achieve it and you'll do more than just improve engagement. You'll create a business in which employees and clients both want a part.
The challenges of transparency in hybrid workplaces
Managing hybrid teams is relatively new for many. Organisations are focused on how to upskill their managers. So if you're also creating a transparent company culture, you run the risk of change fatigue.
Yet according to CMI, only 27% of employees feel more engaged following the global pandemic crisis. So there’s a massive 73% of your teams where culture needs some work.
The move to hybrid has changed communication channels. We're all on video chats, not sat together. Water-cooler moments have gone. So, too have non-verbal cues that inform our understanding. In today's world, it's far easier to hide fears and frustrations. Just switch off your video and cry into your tea.
And, of course, there's the reluctance to return factor, of which Apple is acutely aware. Many employees don’t want to go back on-site. So these changes are here to stay. And organisations must work with them to maintain employee motivation and engagement. Your key to success therefore, relies on great tools to bridge that now permanent communication gap.
Leading the culture change – creating a truly transparent workplace culture
Let’s be realistic. Change to a transparent culture won’t happen overnight. But wherever your start point, you have to start now.
From defining your values to sharing your wins. There’s no opportunity for secrets and lies. Your focus is creating a company culture that lives out its values. Trust and team cohesion are key (Gartner). And great communication underpins both.
This isn't just about recognising the good stuff either. You need to be willing to take a stand. If leaders or employees aren’t demonstrating the values, be brave. Be clear. Insist they change their approach. Toxic environments are the arch-enemy of transparent company cultures. So tackle them now before bad habits set in.
Creating exceptional Employee Experience
With many companies now focussing on Employee Experience (EX), transparent company culture is essential. You need to foster consistent, effective communication. It will not only aid your culture. But also drive your results.
What you’re striving for is fantastic engagement. And an ability to spot disengaged employees from a distance, literally.
Regular check ins and easy-to-use templates strengthen transparent company cultures. You need to create a workplace culture where employees are encouraged and heard. It isn’t just another tick box exercise. And HR doesn’t need to own it. Instead, introduce tools that are designed for hybrid workplaces and support their adoption into offices and at home. This is your first essential step to creating employee advocates, who will actively defend you when the next wave of bots arrive.