By Beth Zimmerman
Culture is regularly identified as critical to making organizations more effective. Building a great culture, however, can often feel like an uncertain road. How is it, after all, that the rather intangible concept of culture comes alive in the daily fabric of an organization?
At Evans, we focus consistently on building and sustaining a culture that bolsters our team’s success. Therefore, we are exceedingly proud to have received not one but two 2016 Helios HR Apollo Awards at the awards ceremony held yesterday. The Apollo Awards honor human capital excellence in talent development.
Our internal focus on culture is integral to our focus on human-centered change leadership. We recognize that a strong culture within Evans bolsters our team members’ abilities to support our clients in building strong cultures and, toward that end, in leading successful organizational change endeavors in support of their goals.
So what does it mean to have a great culture, and what have we done to achieve a culture worthy of this recognition? At Evans, our culture reflects our human-centered approach in all that we do – it is about our people. More specifically, we have built a culture of intention that underlies our success in attracting, retaining, and engaging stellar employees.
We offer the following human-centered strategies from our own experience as potential approaches for other organizations looking for ways to strengthen their own cultures:
- Devote attention and resources to attracting staff who share your organization’s values and approach to service delivery. Involve your existing staff members at all levels in identifying candidates for open positions. Given their first-hand knowledge in what your organization is about, they are in a unique position to recognize in others the qualities that will make for successful employees. Involve them in the interviewing process and strengthen their ability to contribute successfully by offering training in techniques to help them identify those who will fit well in your culture. Also reward your staff for identifying new hires who join, and stay with, your organization.
- Support your staff in following their passions. Given the investment that is required to successfully recruit a new employee and get them up to speed in their new role, retention is another critical area of focus. At Evans, we believe that staff who are supported in pursuing their passions – including through a combination of client-driven and internal projects – will find satisfaction in their jobs in the short and longer terms. Therefore, we provide coaching, mentoring, and professional development for all team members, and we also promote from within. Employees highly value this people-focused culture, as reflected in our impressive 90% retention rate in 2015, a year in which 40% of our staff were hired. Our clients also appreciate that Evans hires and retains exceptional staff on whom they can depend for ongoing support and partnership.
- Engage! A great culture is created when the many aspects of the workplace combine to create an engaging and motivating environment, one in which staff want to continue to be involved. Our high retention rate reflects the many ways Evans fosters staff engagement, from opportunities to develop leadership skills, to use of consistent engagement strategies across managers, to policies that allow staff to balance the many facets of their lives, to social activities for staff to have fun together. Input collected through employee surveys – including those that led to our recent awards as a Washingtonian Magazine Best Place to Work, CARE Award for Responsive Employers and two Helios HR Apollo Awards for Leadership Development and Employment Brand – describe the Evans culture as one of collaboration, innovation, and respect, descriptors that speak volumes to the type of workplace we have established and work daily to maintain and evolve.
These are some of the strategies that Evans uses to be a destination of choice for those looking for the professional and personal space to exercise their passions. What strategies have you found to be powerful factors in creating an engaging and motivating workforce in your organization?