Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Employee Benefit News.
Ask any HR professional how an employer should best attract and retain talent, and they’ll likely tell you that they need to create a strong, positive company culture.
But they’re also likely to say it’s easier said than done.
Sure, you can help attract employees with salary and benefits—but any other employers with the right data or a good broker can match those enticements. However, the culture at an organization is something that is not so easy to replicate.
Building a culture isn’t done by issuing a memo. The C-suite has a clear role in building the culture of an organization, but it can’t dictate it. Instead, most corporate cultures take hold based upon the behavior of employees. No matter how much the CEO wants “empathy” to be a company value, it’ll never happen if you hire a bunch of people who aren’t empathetic. The example the C-suite sets will have a far greater impact on culture than what they say.
To shape and influence the culture, one of employers’ best tools is a culture deck—which breaks down your company’s culture, core values and mission into clear, easy-to-absorb pieces.
It’s been 10 years since Netflix published the first culture deck to the internet. In 125 slides, the company outlined its values, expected behaviors and core operating philosophy. In the decade since, it’s been viewed more than 18 million times. Many other companies have followed suit with their own versions of a culture deck.
Done well, a culture deck is a promise made among the people at a company, regardless of what role they’re in or what level they’re at. A culture deck unifies thinking around how everyone is going to behave, and what matters most to them. A culture deck can galvanize what’s already happening inside the organization, and help you chart a course into the future. It can serve as an important filter in the hiring process, as prospective employees either get excited about working in a culture like yours or self-select out. A culture deck can infuse your mission, vision and values throughout the company, making your culture top of mind for everyone and part of their everyday conversation, and serve as a terrific introduction during new employee orientation.
If you think a culture deck could help your company, here are five keys to ensuring the deck has a positive impact for your company.
It needs to ring true.
While a culture deck must be aspirational, it also must be rooted in truth. If it’s wishful thinking, employees are going to roll their eyes and you’re not going to create much cohesion.
You need to give it high visibility.
Consider that research shows people need to hear something seven times before it starts to sink in—if you communicate the culture deck once a quarter, it’ll take almost two years for people to begin to get on board. The culture deck needs to be talked about in meetings. It needs to be shown on video screens throughout your offices. This can’t be a PPT that’s posted to the intranet and forgotten.
The CEO needs to be a champion.
While the CEO can’t simply dictate culture from on high, if they aren’t actively on board people will notice; the tone at the top needs to be pro-culture deck. How seriously the CEO takes the culture deck determines how important it is to employees. If the CEO brings it up in all-hands meetings, that shows how committed they are to building a positive culture.
You need other champions, too.
It’s good to identify a number of ambassadors throughout the company. These folks can be counted on to talk about parts of the culture deck with their colleagues. When business discussions are happening, these are the people that will say, “There’s that section of the culture deck that we should consider in this discussion.” When people start using the culture deck as a decision-making tool, that’s when you know you’re on the right track.
Remember that your culture is about more than just the deck.
The culture deck is just one tool of many. It needs to be a centerpiece of your culture conversations, but simply creating the deck does not automatically mean you’ve created a culture.
Your company is a living, breathing organism—it will grow and change over time. And that means your culture must also adapt. The culture deck is not written in stone, but is a guide that can enhance communication, help team members live the corporate values and become better employees, assist you in hiring people that fit better and thereby reduce employee churn, and ultimately to help your company thrive.