There are many non-negotiables on a CEO's to-do list, and cultivating a healthy company culture must be one of them. It’s an often-overlooked need, but it is one paramount to achieving ideal performance and attaining company goals. After all, how can a business successfully impact its customers and provide them with what’s required to meet their needs if the business can’t even positively engage its own employees?
It’s an issue Rom LaPointe, founder and CEO of Capricorn Leadership, knows well. He’s held the role of CEO and leader for at least 10 privately held companies, and he’s been able to effect real, positive change thanks to a strategic focus on workplace culture: “I want every employee to be excited about where they work and tell people about that in a positive way.” Why? Because he understands that a conversation or experience with the company’s employees is typically one of the very first experiences a potential customer has with your business. Whether you like it or not (or even realize it), your employees serve as critical ambassadors of your brand. Potential customers can sniff out unhappy or unengaged employees, and that can—and most definitely will—affect the outcome of the sale.
Research, however, points to the troubling reality that the lack of employee engagement is more prevalent than you’d believe: In fact, 70% of employees are not engaged.
Employee disengagement impacts a business’ bottom line even further than customer interaction. Research shows that upwards of $223 billion are lost every year due to culture-related problems and employee turnover. One of the biggest things that leads to culture-related problems and employee turnover is a negative or unhealthy work culture. When your team members don’t enjoy the work culture, they are more prone to being not only disengaged and unproductive, but also more likely to leave the company altogether.
So how can the C-suite executive cultivate a healthy company culture and avoid the negative impact on their company’s bottom line? By investing in a healthy and enjoyable work environment, which is something—despite the statistics—many CEOs still remain reluctant to do.
But even for those trying to develop a positive company culture, it can prove challenging in today’s modern workplace with remote working and hybrid everything continuing to dictate how we interact. As LaPointe notes, more than 50% of employees want to work remotely. While allowing employees to do so can positively impact morale, it can also make it harder for executives to connect their team members. According to LaPointe,
It’s harder to manage [company culture] because culture no longer is management by walking around the water cooler conversations. Those things don’t happen as much. We just have to think differently, more creatively, about when we bring people together, when we’re doing a gathering, and how we maximize that investment.
Finding the right balance to accommodate remote working with in-person interaction is key, LaPointe notes. Remote work is more conducive to creativity, so it should certainly be a possibility for employees, but business leaders should also be finding opportunities to bring them into the office as well, as there are unique benefits to having everyone together.
The right combination of the two work environments can lead to higher employee satisfaction and enthusiasm, allowing for employees to derive their satisfaction from much more than just the paycheck. A leader’s active willingness to invest time and energy into building this type of environment also shows employees that the company cares about them, further instilling a healthy culture into the work environment. LaPointe passionately shared with us his stance on a well executed culture program:
The word culture, to me, is about caring. It is figuring out different ways and with technology and remote work that your people know that you care about them. I don't just mean in a heart-to-heart human level, but that they’re interested in their work and they're wanting to help their team members get better, develop and grow…. That experience of development and coaching is a part of leadership’s responsibility, and it’s often undervalued.
Achieving the right balance for everyone within the company may be a difficult goal to reach, but putting forth the effort to do so will yield personal and financial return for your company. The short term results of investment in culture are boosted morale, engaged employees and satisfied customers, but the long term result is a legacy of human dignity and caring that will carry on for years to come.
Our podcast, The Centricity Podcast, is dedicated to helping small and mid-market businesses thrive and develop the sales and marketing acumen to move the needle. Tune into part one of our episode with Rom LaPointe to learn more about workplace culture.