CEO’s role in creating company culture

64% of employees say trust has an impact on belonging

CEO’s role in creating company culture

As we move further into 2021, and a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel begins to shine through, employers can finally take a step back and breathe. HR has been intrinsic to almost every function of an organization since COVID-19 fist hit – from strategy to terminations, onboarding to digitization. Now, finally, they can concentrate on what they love most – culture.

HRD spoke to Jarik Conrad, senior director, human insights & HCM evangelism at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) and speaker at our upcoming Canadian HR Awards, who revealed the impact a positive culture can have on overall employee engagement and experience.

“Workplace culture and employee engagement are probably the most important challenges that organizations are confronting, particularly as we try to work our way out of this pandemic,” he told HRD. “There’s a reciprocal relationship between having a positive workplace culture and high levels of employee engagement–they feed off each other. Culture is heavily influenced from the top through vision, mission, and core values that articulate what the company cares about and its expected behaviors. Culture is reinforced through policies, procedures and practices that dictate what gets done and how those things get done. All of this has a significant influence on the degree of employee engagement, which, in turn, strengthens the culture.”

Read more: UKG among Forbes' Best Employers 2021

This idea of top-down, CEO-led, innovation in company culture ties in perfectly with recent research from The Workforce Institute at UKG, which found that trust in leadership was essential. According to the report, 64% of employees say that trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work. What’s more, 58% of employees surveyed said that a total lack of trust affects their career choices – with 24% of those people having left a company as a direct result.

Speaking to HRD, Chris Mullen, executive director of The Workforce Institute at UKG, revealed that trust is built and gained through individual assessments and personal check-ins.

“Ask your team what they’d like to see you do,” Mulled explained. “How often do they want you to check in? What are their personal needs? The other piece to this is assessing what you should talk about in these team meetings. Does it have to be all about work? With my team, one of the things we started doing during the pandemic was a sunshine and clouds call every Monday morning. We don’t’ even talk about work – we just do a 30-minute catch up in which I ask them their weekend highlights – and even what didn’t go so well.”

Read more: How to create an inclusive workplace

The pandemic has only highlighted the need for empathetic and compassionate leadership – a two-way street as opposed to a corporate dictatorship. And, as Dr Jarik told us, this can only really be achieved through open and authentic conversations.

“The most important element that determines whether or not this workplace culture and employee engagement loop works is two-way communication,” he continued. “Not only does the organization have to be clear and transparent with employees, those employees must feel heard and appreciated.”

To hear more from Dr Jarik, register for HRD’s upcoming Canadian HR Awards here.

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