NURTURING COMPANY CULTURE: A LOVE STORY - HELPING TO MAKE YOUR COMPANY A GREAT PLACE TO WORK
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Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 1 Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story Helping to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 2 Introduction The ARTICLES 3 // Culture’s Most Welcoming a new employee into your company is the Important Ingredient beginning of a relationship. And like any relationship, Guest blogger Susan Piver shares her we show new employees our best face and then we insight on how it is relationships— hope that when the bloom is off the rose, they will not perks—that really drive a love and not leave us. great culture. The success of that relationship is entirely dependent on the 6 // 8 Cognitive Biases That Will atmosphere we create for them to work in. Are you building a Make or Break Your Culture supportive culture of appreciation, or is your office space seething Some advice for managers on how with bitter undercurrents? to sidestep dangerous pitfalls in our This collection of some of our most popular blog posts will offer thinking. you some constructive advice and actionable tips on how you can 10 // The Science of build a company culture that will inspire passion and commitment from your employees. Gratitude and Well-Being This article unpacks the proven benefits scientists have discovered from having happy employees. 14 // 5 Tips to Create Happier Employees How can you make your employees happier? Here are five tips.
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 3 Culture’s Most Important Ingredient By Susan Piver, Guest Blogger I once worked at a super hip downtown NYC entertainment company as manager of a new division. Before you reached our floor, you could hear the music booming from the lobby. Upon getting off the elevator, you might have wondered if the receptionist was going to take your name or offer you a cocktail. When you walked to your office, you might It was also the unhappiest place I ever Scratching the surface of this super see a fashion model or the next Jay-Z. We worked. Despite the trappings, the space luxe, ultra groovy, majorly happening had our own enormous health club, which was filled with discomfort, condescension, environment, you found the real culture: was probably the most sophisticated and arrogance. Weekly meetings to discuss aggressive and fearful. workout space below 23rd Street. We had new ideas were stiff and agonizing and three spa-like treatment rooms and every feedback was based on indeterminate and While the most interesting, forward- single employee got a weekly 30-minute seemingly capricious measures. No one thinking companies place great emphasis massage. When you told people who your wanted to take any chances so of course on culture, efforts often focus on employer was, they were jealous. Everyone there was no innovation. The gym was appearances or management theories wanted to come to our parties. empty because no one wanted to risk rather than on the creation of honest being seen in less than perfect shape. relationships that create actual community. People were always trying to palm off their massages, because we were too scared to stop working and we just wanted to get out of there. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 4 A quick Google search on “how to create a great corporate culture” reveals these suggestions from the likes of Inc., Forbes, and HBR: • Invite people to throw wadded-up pieces Some of these may be really fantastic ideas, of paper at you when you say something but they won’t ensure you a great culture. wrong in a meeting. • Work in a big open space where no one has a personal chair or work surface or continually rearrange where people sit. Some of these may be really fantastic ideas, feel engaged when they are acknowledged. but they won’t ensure you a great culture. Acknowledgement doesn’t mean praising • Post a corporate dream map to inspire or agreeing. It simply means taking an people forward. At best, they set the stage for great interest in the other person’s point of view culture to (hopefully) arise and at worst, and offering a clear response. If you find it • Instill camaraderie by making people run they are unsustainable gestures meant praise-worthy, an interesting conversation up and down steps to show them what it to game culture rather than create can arise. If you find it off-target, a different is like to do their best. something genuine. interesting conversation can happen. If it makes you angry, upset, delighted, • Know your “wow factor.” In my experience, when people talk about or confused—these too can be interesting. what a great place their company is, they Nothing is off limits and people feel • Make it hard for people to get a job don’t usually mention fun outings or office trusted and appreciated. there by telling them how much will be design. They don’t even mention money. expected of them that they’re probably They talk about how engaged they are. Openness and trust may or may not not up to, so when you hire them, they’ll How much they are learning. How proud be your cup of tea—but if you want to work extra hard to prove themselves. they are to have a seat at the table. People innovate, if you want creativity, if you feel engaged not when they are agreed want breakthroughs, you are going to • Work on the beach; take singing lessons with, but when they are listened to. People have to develop a taste for them. Without together; install a bell to ring when a sale is made; help people get more sleep; have fun games, snacks, and surprising furnishings. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 5 openness and trust, you will only get But if you want to create a workplace Engagement is what leads to a culture that defensive turf-protection rather than bold that changes people’s lives and the way is vital, innovative, and invested in absolute new thinking. Openness and trust don’t business is done, that leads to products success. It is personal, it is human, and it come from running up and down steps or and services that are mind-numbingly is genuine. After all, these are the values throwing wadded-up pieces of paper. They innovative and powerful, culture can’t be a leading-edge companies espouse for their come from connecting, person to person, device. It has to be lived. For it to be lived, marketing campaigns and they take root in over and over, and sustaining that you’re going to have to open your heart the way we treat each other. So keep those connection when there is agreement and to the people around you and engage singing lessons and massages coming, but when there is confusion. both their intelligence and their confusion try to make authentic relationships with equal confidence. with the actual humans you work When we say we want to create a flourishing with along the way. corporate culture, we each have to ask I believe that as we go forward, we will see ourselves if this is really what we mean. If that success belongs not to the cleverest Described as “a deeply intuitive and “culture” is a device we are employing on or the most charismatic but to those who innovative thinker,” guest blogger Susan Piver the quickest route to success and profits, know how to care. To connect . To extend is a speaker, thought leader, and New York no problem. Just recognize it for what it themselves authentically. Thus your ability Times best selling author who has devoted is. Hopefully, you will end up with a good to create culture is not so much about what her life to creating techniques that solve reputation and a lot of money. you say or how you design your space. It is the problems of communication at work. In about who you are. 2011, she founded The Open Heart Project, a worldwide mindfulness community with over ten thousand members. Engagement is what leads to a culture that is vital, innovative, and invested in absolute success.
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 6 8 Cognitive Biases That Will Make or Break Your Culture By Darcy Jacobsen In HR we often rely on common sense. But there By understanding cognitive is a dark side to common sense that HR needs to biases, you can both protect stay aware of. Sometimes our instincts will steer us against them, and sometimes the wrong way. Behavioral psychologists call this use them to your advantage. “cognitive bias”. It will affect perceptions, it will affect objectivity, and it will affect relationships—in both positive and negative ways. That makes it very relevant to culture management and to you. Cognitive biases are something most of qualifications, better looking people are of us cannot avoid. But once you know hired more often. how to spot them, you can see them all around you. They are the instinctive leaps This little bit of everyday irrationality— our minds make—our gut reactions and caused by patterns in our memory, our things we “know”, though we’re not sure need to rationalize what we see, and the how we know them. Scientists believe they human desire to build patterns out of are a relic of evolution: little shortcuts information—is a sort of shorthand of the programmed into our minds to help us brain that distorts reality and causes flaws process faster. But they sometimes lead us in our judgment. just as quickly to the wrong conclusions. You can see, therefore, how spotting Here’s an example: Under the “Halo Effect” and understanding cognitive bias in your bias, we tend to lump together positive own thinking is a very useful skill for HR. qualities, and assume where one attractive But even more useful is identifying and quality exists, others also exist. This is why managing them when they are affecting our we often assume that attractive people are organizational culture. By understanding also more talented, more competent, or cognitive biases, you can both protect more cooperative than their less attractive against them, and sometimes use them to counterparts. This bias is why, regardless your advantage. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 7 Here are eight common cognitive biases you might want to look out for in your organization: The Bandwagon Hyperbolic The Ingroup Effect Discounting Bias People tend to go along with what When presented with two similar rewards, People naturally polarize into groups. other members of a group are doing. people show a preference for the one that This bias means people tend to view (Also known as the Herd Mentality.) arrives sooner rather than later. “their” group as better, while outsiders are collectively viewed as inferior. What it means to you: If you can get the (To test this, ask around your office “herd” going in the right way, or give whether people would prefer $50 now or What it means to you: To avoid the the perception that it is moving that way $75 a year from now—or how about $100 negativity, competition and roadblocks by gaining influential champions for five years from now? Studies have shown associated with polarization, do what you your projects, you have a better chance that overwhelmingly people will take can to homogenize, tear down silos and of gaining participation throughout the money now, because they perceive make your company feel like it is one big your organization. a greater value.) People—and indeed group, not a collection of fiefdoms or animals—have been proven to discount opposing teams. the value of a later reward by a factor that increases with the length of the delay. What it means to you: When providing recognition and rewards that you wish to make a strong impact, be sure to deliver those awards quickly, so that they are in hand while their impact is strongest— as close as possible to the event that inspired them. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 8 The Confirmation Mere-Exposure The Negativity Bias Effect Bias People tend to ignore information which People tend to develop a preference for People pay more attention to and give does not fit with their beliefs while they things merely because they are familiar more weight to negative rather than weigh agreeable information more heavily. with them. positive experiences and information. What it means to you: This is a great bias to What it means to you: By increasing What it means to you: This bias is why remember when performance review time frequency of exposure to a concept within the “feedback sandwich” has grown in rolls around. Managers will be creating your organization, you will have a better popularity. While sandwiching criticism evaluations that fit with their beliefs chance of increasing acceptance and even within praise is somewhat controversial, about employees, and possibly discarding preference for that concept. For example, there is no doubt that increased positive critical information. Make sure you repeated exposure to company values can interactions within your organization can provide managers with as much diverse, help to ingrain those values in the hearts help counteract this powerful and morale- crowdsourced data about employee and minds of employees. killing bias. performance as possible, to avoid a single point of failure around this bias. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 9 System The Spacing Justification Effect People will defend and prefer the status Information is better recalled if exposure to quo, seeing it as better, more legitimate, it is repeated over a longer span of time, and more desirable than new alternatives. rather than occurring only once or grouped together in time. What it means to you: This bias intensifies when a system is under threat and explains What it means to you: This means that why change often comes hard within your initiatives should be focused on long- organizations. People have a cognitive bias term, iterative campaigns and programs that prefers the system they already have. to induce change, with many “touches” Sensitivity to this bias when implementing to encourage learning and information change is critical. Be sure you account for retention, rather than one-time, “big-bang” this natural resistance, give employees events, awards or announcements. a chance to air their concerns, and offer assurance and strong evidence to support planned changes in your organization. Look for ways to spot and eliminate these biases with in your organization and keep your culture strong and positive.
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 10 The Science of Gratitude and Well-Being By Darcy Jacobsen Regularly expressing gratitude is amazingly good for us—and by extension our workplaces— in more ways than we might realize. Gratitude comes in many forms. Here’s the evidence: Researchers of gratitude define it as: “an emotion which occurs after people Gratefulness Increases Emotional receive aid which is perceived as costly, Well-Being valuable, and altruistic,” or “an emotion that (is) directed towards appreciating A 2007 study published in the Journal the helpful actions of other people,” or of Research in Personality found that even “appreciation of one’s abilities, or “gratitude is uniquely important to of a climate in which such successful well-being and social life.” That study work (is) possible.” showed a relationship between gratitude and well-being that was independent No matter how one defines it, one thing of personality factors (extraversion, is clear, feeling and expressing gratitude neuroticism, openness to experience, yields side benefits for our emotional and conscientiousness, or agreeableness), and physical well-being. For your employees, proved that over time gratitude leads to this can translate into: lower stress and depression and higher levels of social support. The authors of the • A more positive workplace study call for therapists to employ gratitude • Happier, more optimistic employees as a clinical tool, saying: “giving people the • Lower stress skills to increase their gratitude may be as • Better teamwork beneficial as such cognitive behavioral life • A culture of helpfulness skills as challenging negative beliefs .” • Lower absenteeism and better physical health co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 11 Grateful People Get Along Better with Others A paper published in 2009 in the Clinical Psychology Review by researchers from Hofstra and several UK universities claims that people who express gratitude are more extroverted, agreeable, open, conscientious, and less neurotic. The Grateful People Sacrifice study suggests that gratitude is associated for the Greater Good with habitual positive well-being and a wide variety of adaptive personality traits In a study published in 2010 in the American conducive to developing and maintaining Psychological Association Journal Emotion, positive relationships: researchers found that “gratitude functions Grateful People Sleep Better to enhance cooperative as opposed to “Grateful people were less angry and selfish economic behavior.” Even when A 2012 study from a group of Chinese hostile, depressed, and emotionally dealing with strangers, and no prospect of researchers looked at the combined effects vulnerable, (and) experienced positive reciprocity, the subjects who were grateful of gratitude and sleep quality on symptoms emotions more frequently. Gratitude was made their decisions based on what was of anxiety and depression. They found that also correlated with traits associated with good for the group—even when it was higher levels of gratitude were associated positive social functioning; emotional against their individual interest. Gratitude, with better sleep, and with lower anxiety warmth, gregariousness, activity seeking, the researchers argued, had a direct and and depression. Those results were echoed trust, altruism, and tender-mindedness. positive influence on judgment. in a study by the University of Manchester. Finally, grateful people had higher Sleep, in turn, has been linked with things openness to their feeling, ideas, and values like improved memory, healthier weight, (associated with humanistic conceptions lower stress, and higher levels of creativity, of well-being, and greater competence, stress and attention. dutifulness, and achievement striving.” co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 12 Grateful People Achieve More Grateful People Are Less Aggressive correlates with better exercise habits, and encourages us to take better A study by researchers from the University At the University of Kentucky, some care of our health. of California asked subjects to keep a daily students in a study received praise for journal of things they were grateful for. their writing, where others got a scathing Gratitude can also aid in recovering more Two other groups kept journals of daily evaluation. Next, students played a quickly when you have health issues. In a annoyances or general daily observations. game against the person who’d done the study of organ recipients, scholars from Those assigned to keep the gratitude evaluation, in which they could blast them UC Davis and the Mississippi University journals showed significant increases in with white noise. In general, the insulted for Women found that patients who keep determination, attention, enthusiasm and writers retaliated with loud blasts of noise. journals of their appreciation scored better energy, when compared to the two other But among those insulted writers, some on measures of mental health, general groups. Likewise, in a study published had been instructed to write essays about health and vitality than those who keep in the Journal of Happiness Studies, things for which they were grateful. Those only routine notes about their days. researchers surveyed 1,035 high-school students who had written about their students and found that the most grateful gratitude were less likely to blast noise at had more friends and higher GPAs. Even their critics. “Gratitude is more than just athletes benefit from gratitude. feeling good,” says Nathan DeWall, who led the study. “It helps people become less Grateful People Pay It Forward aggressive by enhancing their empathy.” In one 2006 study conducted at Grateful People Are Physically Healthier Northeastern University, researchers sabotaged participant’s computers and At the University of Connecticut, had a “helpful observer” jump in to help. researchers found that gratitude has a Afterward, the students who had been protective effect against heart attacks. helped were more likely to volunteer to According to expert Robert Emmons of UC help someone else with an unrelated, and Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, time-intensive, task. In this study, gratitude it also strengthens the immune system, was shown to be far more powerful than lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms simply inducing a good mood. of illness, increases resistance to pain, co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 13 Grateful People Are More Resilient to Trauma Studies of Vietnam War veterans have Researchers at the University of author of the Kent State University study. shown that gratitude is significant in Pennsylvania had similar results when “It helps us express and enjoy, appreciate, helping people to maintain emotional well- they asked subjects to write and personally be thankful and satisfied with a little being after traumatic life experiences. deliver a thank you letter to someone effort. We all have it, and we need to use it who had never been properly thanked to improve our quality of life.” It turns out that expressing gratitude in for his or her kindness. Subjects had a writing also has powerful benefits. In huge and immediate increase in their a study at Kent State, Professor Steve happiness scores. This impact, said Toepfer examined the effects of writing researchers, was greater than that from any letters of gratitude on happiness, life other intervention, with benefits lasting satisfaction, and depression. Said Toepfer: for a month. “The more letter writing people did, the less depressive symptoms they had. They In addition to all of this, it appears that improved significantly on happiness and grateful people have better love lives. =) life satisfaction. By writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three All of this just goes to show that being weeks to different people – well-being thankful and appreciative, and making increased significantly.” opportunities—for yourself and for your employees—to feel and express gratitude are investments that pay off exponentially. “We are all walking around with an amazing resource: gratitude,” said Steve Toepfer,
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 14 5 Tips to Create Happier Employees By Darcy Jacobsen Did you know that happier workers help their Employee happiness has become an colleagues 33% more often than unhappy ones? Offer Meaning Happy employees also achieve their goals 31% more often, and are 36% more motivated in their work. This important and growing business concern over the past few years, as more and 1 and Alignment more companies recognize the benefits is according to joint research from the Wall Street of having not just satisfied and engaged People want to feel like they are part of Journal and iOpener Institute. employees—but also employees who are something bigger than themselves— happy and in good moods. Health, safety, whether it is the team, the company or productivity, absenteeism, customer the community at large. Some employees service, profitability—it seems there is actively search for companies that have not a business metric out there that is not strong values and give back to society. impacted by how happy your people are. For many employees meaning is as simple as a desire to be aligned with the Here are 5 things to consider as you company goals and mission, and to feel try to build a happier workforce in your like a valued member of a team. A study organization: conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta found that companies who focused employees on the meaning and purpose in their work experienced a 60% drop in absenteeism and a 75% reduction in turnover. People want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves—whether it is the team, the company or the community at large. co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 15 “Think about those intense work times 2 Provide Opportunities when the team is all pulling together and its total focus on creating something for Success and amazing keeps team members working Personal Growth after midnight. A lot of those happiness boxes are ticked off in those heroic times: According to recent research by SHRM, Feeling like you’re progressing toward a growth and professional development is among the top demands of job seekers goal, feeling optimistic; feeling like you’re part of something bigger than the day- 3 Encourage Gratitude in the U.S. labor force. Likewise, a to-day work; and feeling like you’re being CornerstoneOnDemand claims that one of supported and supporting others. Those For years, studies have shown that leading causes of employee dissatisfaction are legendary times at a company, and recognized employees are happier and and turnover is a feeling of stagnation or notice that people are sustained through more motivated to succeed. But a growing a disconnect with company goals. That them, hour by hour, by the conviction and body of research—as well as a terrific new study also reports that in the past year, only affirmation that they are making progress book by Wharton School professor Adam 1/3 of employees have received training toward the goal. Happiness comes both Grant—shows that the employees who and development opportunities, and from the end goal and making progress.” are giving recognition and reward may two-thirds of employees aren’t receiving be benefiting as much or more from a adequate feedback or recognition. recognition moment than their colleagues. As Eric Mosley writes in The Crowdsourced It turns out, giving people the opportunity Performance Review: to express gratitude is also amazingly good for thier health, productivity and happiness at work. In fact, our latest Mood Tracker report, which we’re currently putting together, shows that employees who are enabled to recognize one another are significantly more likely to say they are highly engaged than those who are not able to recognize one another. More on this next month! co n ti n u e d >
Nurturing Company Culture: A Love Story 16 4 5 Create Trust Build Many experts argue that one of the Flexibility single biggest contributors to employee happiness is simply creating a culture According to Career Bliss, companies of trust within your organization. This who see the biggest jumps in employee means not only your workers’ trust in happiness are those who, among other leadership, but also in one another. And things, emphasize great work-life balance. that trust is a two way street. A recent Research by Georgetown University and study conducted by Harvard University the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation confirms the showed that enhancing trust and employee importance of flexibility in driving worker commitment creates an environment that Make sure these five key happiness, with 80% of employees saying fosters happy, committed, productive components are prospering they would be happier with more flexible team members. “Workplaces that in your organization, and the work options. Of those workers who provide positive environments that foster already have flexibility at work, 90% said it interpersonal trust and quality personal dividend is sure to pay off eased the burden of work-life balance. relationships create the most committed in smiling faces and better and productive employees,” said Nancy business results. Etcoff, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the study. Maintain an open, multilateral dialogue within your organization, help employees to understand and contribute to the big picture, and above all, be sure that leaders are honest and accountable for decisions.
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