How to Empower Your Employees to Impact Work Culture
With all the buzz around workplace culture these days, Human Resources professionals are constantly bombarded with new strategies for building vibrant, productive work spaces. Of course, open plan offices with ping-pong tables aren’t enough – work culture is built by the people who take part in it. Yet, so many strategies for creating engagement in the workplace leave out the simple fact that employees must be empowered to impact the culture where they work.
Let’s take a look at one of the most effective ways to help employees take the lead in developing and sustaining work culture.
[Related Insight: Job Referrals Are A Measure of Office Culture & Employee Engagement]
Engagement Requires Impact
The engagement equation too often takes employee’s agency for granted. When you look through the articles published on the subject recently, the pattern becomes clear. Almost every title asks how company culture impacts employees, but very few consider how employees can impact culture! There’s another side to this equation: Without the ability to impact company culture, employees can never truly be engaged.
First, let’s define company culture. In an article for Inc., HR innovator Ben Peterson writes that “Company culture can be vague to pin down and define, but for the most part, it’s your company’s unique behavior, beliefs, attitude and nature.” He adds, “It’s simply about the people.” Peterson understands that culture can’t just be a top-down initiative from an office in HR, but is strongest when it’s an ongoing project crowdsourced from employees themselves.
[Related Insight: How Your Company Culture Impacts Recruiting Efforts]
Employees as Agents of Change
If office culture comes down to the people who participate in it, then the best way to allow employees to help shape it is to empower them to contribute to the recruiting process. Here’s where employee referral programs come in. A strong referral program has many benefits. For HR, it’s an intuitive way to turn your employees into an army of recruiters, and for employees, it’s a way to actively shape company culture and be a change agent in the workplace.
In addition to empowering employees to impact work culture, referral programs lead to better hires. Experience has shown that candidates referred by existing employees are:
Who better than your current employees to understand the demands of a particular position? Employee referrals are a great way to pre-vet applicants based on your employee’s pre-existing knowledge of their experience, qualifications, and work ethic. After all, employees who are acting as change agents want to refer candidates who will excel and make positive contributions to office culture.
We’ll say it again: Who could possible be better equipped to identify cultural fit than the people who are part of that work culture? Employees who refer candidates do so because they believe their referral will make an impact. Their existing relationship with the candidate ensures that applicants who aren’t a good fit get pre-screened before the process even begins.
Employee referral programs have a built-in, double-edged incentive. Employees only refer quality candidates because their referral is a reflection of their investment in the company, and referred candidates are more engaged because they want to live up to the high opinion of the contact who referred them. As a result, both current employees and referred employees hold themselves to a higher standard.
The Many Benefits of Employee Referral Programs
Referrals made by existing employees increase their attachment to the organization and help them feel that they have a stake in its future. Your most engaged, high-quality employees want to grow with the organization. Making referrals allows them to have a hand in the company’s forward motion and act as change agents for workplace culture.
In addition, the benefits of a robust, employee-driven company culture include higher retention rates, a stronger employer brand, and a clear competitive advantage in the war for talent. As Mark Miller of Emergenetics notes, the most powerful differentiator in a job search is “what the culture of that company stands for and how well it is communicated.”
[Related Insight: Is Your Employee Retention Plan Missing This Important Piece?]
Employee referral programs are a holistic way to achieve all of the above – by deputizing existing employees and their investment in and knowledge of company culture, you gain motivated, effective allies in your recruiting process. And by gaining the ability to refer qualified friends and associates to positions within the company, employees become an empowered part of their workplace culture. It’s a win-win-win situation!
If you’re ready to empower your employees to impact work culture (and drive a full pipeline of qualified, culture-matched, engaged candidates!) contact us today to learn more.