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4 ways to know if your company has a successful culture

The difference between a great and horrible place to work can come down to a company's culture and can be gauged by how employees engage at work and whether morale is high.

This "soft" concept is hard to tie to return on investment or profit, but it is important in attracting the best and brightest talent, says Lisa Jackson, a national workplace expert, author and owner of the Denver-based consulting firm: Corporate Culture Pros.

Jackson is coming to Grand Rapids this week to talk about culture with business leaders at the Association of Corporate Growth, Western Michigan chapter.

"The culture is about the leadership and the way employees work together to help the business win," Jackson said.

Gone are the days when companies could treat employees like they were lucky to have a job. With a growing talent shortage, job-seekers are looking for more than just good pay and benefits. They also want a workplace where they enjoy putting in hours.

"There is no doubt that companies are paying more attention because the cycles of change in the business world are so much faster and frequent," Jackson said.

How do you know if a company has a good culture? Jackson says there are four qualities to look for:

Clarity of vision: A company has a clear compelling vision that everyone knows. It can't just be "we are going to make money." Changing the strategy is OK, but changing the vision every year makes for chaos.

Authenticity: A good culture is one that employees believe in, and leaders live by exemplifying the company's values. One sign of an authentic culture is employees don't need economic incentive to refer others to work there.

Respect: Employees are treated with respect. Management has gone on record to say "we care about our people and this is how we do it." They make sure everyone from the front lines to the back office feels valued.

Alchemy: This measures if employees feel their colleagues are cool and committed to success. Workers don't want to be on a team where they feel like they are pulling all the weight while others slack.

Jackson will be discussing culture in depth during her visit Wednesday, June 15, when she will give speak at a breakfast at the Kent Country Club, and lead a "working lunch" at Grand Valley State University's Seidman Center.

ACG is organizing the event because culture is a hot topic among businesses of all sizes, says Julie Metsker, the association's executive director.

"What we are finding is culture is extremely important in helping recruit and retain talent in West Michigan," Metsker said. "It's not just about having ping pong tables and a coffee bar, it's about having a culture that that people want to stay in."

Successful Grand Rapids companies, JR Automation and OST - which won the organization's top annual award in 2015 and 2016 respectively - attribute a strong culture to their success.

"A lot people don't understand that if you have a good culture, it supports your bottom line," Metsker said.

The 17-year-old association does monthly program on a variety of topics from big data to the true costs of human capital.

"We are the only trade association focused on helping companies grow," Metsker said.

Author: Shandra Martinez


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