5 Simple Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

A group of co-workers are sat around a laptop smiling and discussing a project in an open plan office

5 Simple Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

Many people feel that with company culture and employee engagement, it’s a bit like the chicken and egg situation. Which comes first? 

At Liberty Mind, we’re firm believers that high employee engagement is driven by strong company cultures. After all, if you haven’t got the right environment in the first place, there’s no way of nurturing that engagement. 

In the UK, we’re no longer in a ‘job for life’. In fact, research has found that on average, an employee will now stay for a maximum of five years before moving onto a new organisation. 

With this in mind, employees are now at a premium, and to gain the best people and retain the best people; you have to build a culture that engages them. 

The trouble is many organisations over-complicate company culture. They see it as a massive HR function that costs an excessive amount of money and an extraordinary amount of time. 

But amongst the fads, the trends, and the influences that surround company culture are basic principles that often get lost. 

There are simple ways you can build a culture of engagement – it’s just most of the time, these basic human instincts get lost in hierarchical agendas and process-driven policies. 

A group of people are having a meeting. There is a sticky note board where two women are talking.

Get People Involved

As we’ve discussed previously around company culture myths, many organisations believe company culture is the sole responsibility of HR. 

But to have people fully engaged and onboard, with your company culture, you have to get them involved. 

In too many organisations, there still exists a ‘them and us’ company culture. Leaders believe the changes they are making are the best for the employees, and the business. However, this ‘I know best’ attitude can be profoundly detrimental to the company culture. 

By involving people, asking for their advice and opinions, you create a collaborative culture where you can quickly identify what’s going to work in your culture and what’s not. 

We see time and time again, organisations purchasing work perk products, or changing processes without any input from the team this is going to affect. 

We’re not saying to implement a culture of consensus. Leaders have to make the right choice, not the popular one. But by giving your people a voice, you will not only make them feel valued and connected to the business, but you will also provide them with operations and benefits that truly enable them to do their best work. 

Two co-workers are talking at their desks in an open plan office while their colleagues are all sat doing work

Thread Your Values

You should have no more than 3 – 5 company values. These drive the vision of your business and guide people on how they should act and behave on behalf of the company. 

Too often, values are just jargon-filled sentences that nobody understands. Put up on the wall, and ignored for all eternity. In many cases, even the CEO can’t recite them. So how on earth is the organisation meant to be living by them? 

Your values and vision should be the backbone of each element of your company culture. It should be the guiding light so that when you make a decision, it aligns with those vision and values. 

This makes your team understand ‘why’ a change is taking place. Without a full understanding of your ‘why’, you can often end up changing things without reason or validation. 

A sheet with lots of data is being discussed by people, they are using their hands and pens to point at the data.

Be Transparent

Many organisations still have major trust issues with their team. The ‘them and us’ culture has a lot to answer for. In fact, too many managers still act on the assumption that people are lazy, and just there for the pay cheque. This mindset is deeply limiting to both business success and our human potential. 

If you don’t trust your team, I would ask why? 

Fear is what stops many organisations from being trustworthy. They fear that if we were to tell people the truth, they would leave, or worse, manipulate the information. 

This all breeds negative attitudes and poor behaviour. 

Instead, you may be surprised what people do with an honest approach. 

In 99% of circumstances, when you’re honest with your team, they not only value you more as a leader, but they respect you and will act in the same way towards you and their colleagues. 

Through transparency, you can embrace change and find solutions much quicker than being secretive and distrustful. 

Remember that the truth always finds a way of coming out anyway, so why put yourself in the position of being distrusted by your own team? 

A man stands up in front of a group of people to deliver a speech

Be Open to Feedback

Many of us are not fans of feedback. Sometimes it can be a hard pill to swallow. But constructive feedback is priceless. 

When it comes to company culture, feedback from your team is vital in continuing to navigate changes when they occur in the business. 

Unfortunately, a ‘what do they know’ attitude can still emit itself from leadership. But this is where engagement will fall. 

Your team are the ones who create your product, sell it, market it, speak to customers, perhaps even use the product themselves. They have an incredible amount of insight into your business at the ground level. Value their feedback, because they’re the ones in the field truly seeing the reaction and problems as they occur. 

More importantly, don’t just wait for feedback. Many people don’t feel comfortable with giving feedback unless it’s encouraged. So find a way to gain employee feedback that helps them feel part of the company culture, rather than a product of the culture. 

From holding weekly meetings about pain points to regular surveys, embed feedback into the dynamic of your company culture. 

Let Go

Outdated company culture practices can mean you’re often doing things because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done.’ 

This attitude can be deeply limiting to both business growth and employee retention. 

Legacy cultures, as we often call them, are practices and processes that have been done for so long nobody knows why. For example, the first leader of the company starts them, then they’re handed over to the next CEO, and so the circle just continues. 

Few organisations realise they’re stuck in a legacy rut until they find their business has plateaued and their people are demotivated. 

However, by letting go of these outdated practices and instead creating your own, you can reinvigorate the culture, and increase employee engagement. 

Start with questioning why you’ve done things this way for so long. Does it really work? Does it need improving? And if so, ask your team what they would like to see. 

Building a company culture where employee engagement can thrive should always start with attitudes and behaviours. To gain more guidance on how you can improve your company culture, book a workshop or talk to us about our culture consultancy

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About The Author

Lizzie Benton is a people and culture specialist who supports organisations in developing a unique company culture and building engaged teams. Lizzie has been recognised as a millennial changing the world of work, and has been featured in the Metro, HuffingtonPost and has spoken across the UK on employee engagement. When not consulting or running a workshop, Lizzie can be found in rural Lincolnshire enjoying afternoon tea and fresh air.