How CIOs can create a positive company culture

How CIOs can create a positive company culture

Five things you can do to build a company culture you and your employees can be proud of

As the figurehead, you need to be the one championing culture, reminding people of its importance and helping them to embody the values

The face of the workforce is changing. A new generation of young people are set to enter the workforce within the next ten years and what they look for in job is not necessarily the same as what their predecessors were after.

Senior Management Consultant at Huawei, Huang Weiwei acknowledged this fact at this year’s Huawei Connect event, saying "these people don't come just because of the money - they want the company to have other attractive points.”

In Southeast Asia, five of the largest countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have populations that are overwhelmingly made up of millennials. While young people still want jobs that offer a competitive salary and compensation packages, millennials are more likely to give weight to company culture when evaluating their employment opportunities.

They want to work for a company that share their values, that makes them feel like their work has a purpose and makes a difference. They want a good culture fit.

A study by LinkedIn found that in Southeast Asia, the top concern for employees in the region was employee retention: 38 per cent of respondents said a failure to retain talent was the top competitive threat to their company – well above the global average of 29 per cent.

But, why do employees leave companies? While money is certainly a factor, if a worker feels uncomfortable with the culture in their workplace, they’re not going to want to want to come into the office and ultimately, their productivity and overall wellbeing will be affected.

Here are five things you can do to build a company culture you and your employees can be proud of.

Lead from the front

If you want to keep a team motivated and engaged, it’s important to have a strong figurehead. An effective manager always leads by example, setting out the company culture from the beginning and encompassing those values throughout their time at the business.

You need to be able to offer support to your team members, mentoring them where necessary to help realise their potential. This will allow your whole team to continue driving forward company culture and build on pre-existing values.

For the modern CIO, their remit is increasingly expanding beyond the traditional IT function and many are now responsible for driving company-wide innovation. For some, this now includes defining company culture therefore, without a strong leader in place to spearhead the policy, it will fall by the wayside and cause widespread cultural-misalignment between departments.

Be inclusive

For many employees, this is the most important tenet of workplace culture. Unfortunately, for employers it’s often the hardest to get right.

No employee wants to be made to feel uncomfortable in their place of work due to their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, age or any other fundamental facet of their being. However, despite many companies taking steps to improve diversity and inclusion, it is often perceived by little more than lip-service by those minorities it is meant to empower; rarely leading to any long-term, meaningful change.

Obviously, there are laws in place across the world to stop the most serious cases of workplace discrimination, but organisations should not be allowing environments to exist where events occur that require legal intervention.

Organisations need to make it clear from the outset their company has a zero-tolerance culture; nothing is more important than ensuring your employees feel safe in their place of work.

Communicate with your employees

What values are most important to your employees? Does your company culture align with these ideals or is it simply the brainchild of what senior management thinks you should be doing?

We’ve already established that younger generations put greater weight behind finding an employer that has similar ethical and moral considerations as them. However, you can’t expect your company culture to thrive if you don’t consult your employees on what they want to see from it.

Employees will always be reluctant to adopt change that they don’t view as being beneficial. This is true of changes to company culture. While it’s important to listen to your team about what they want to see implemented; it’s equally important that any changes you decide to enact are properly explained so all employees can understand how it might impact on them and how they conduct themselves in the workplace.

It’s vital that the relationship you have with your employees is built on mutual trust and nothing facilitates that more than having an open and transparent culture where employees feel they can both raise ideas and be listened to.

Have a common vision

If you’re not all on the same page, how can you expect your company culture to become pervasive throughout all departments of your business? Collaboration and cohesion are key to ensuring long-term business success and without everyone understanding and embodying the values you set out for the company, your organisation won’t thrive.

As a leader, it’s important you make it clear to everyone what the company vision and how what they do allows that vision to be turned into a reality. If your employees don’t share your sense of purpose and meaning, they won’t be motivated at work and your company culture will lack authenticity. You want your company culture to be a positive reflection of the shared values your organisation has, not a tool to highlight divisions.

Live it

There’s a difference between defining your company culture and implementing, practicing and living it on a daily basis.

While it can sometimes take time to adjust to any new cultural changes, it’s important not to become complacent and allow people to slip back into old, bad habits. As the figurehead, you need to be the one championing culture, reminding people of its importance and helping them to embody the values.

If you hold yourself to a high standard on a daily basis, your employees will notice this and be more likely to follow suit. Live, breathe and own your company culture and eventually, everyone from the CEO to your newest hire will be doing the same.

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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Tags strategyskills shortagechange managementCulturegenderchange agentmanaging teamschief people officerLGBT communityinclusionLGBTIQfuture workforceleadershipCIO and CPO

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