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15 Effective Ways HR Can Help Create A Sustainable Company Culture

via Forbes: A solid company culture is key for any business, as it determines how engaged your employees are — and for how long you are able to retain them. As a human resources professional, your responsibility is to help shape your company culture so that it is sustainable over the long term. Understanding what your role is and how you can better enhance your company culture can help create an environment that employees look forward to going to each day.

Fifteen members of Forbes Human Resources Council shared what roles and responsibilities HR departments have when it comes to building a sustainable company culture and how HR leaders can carry out these duties. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Be A Proactive Culture Consultant

The HR department’s role is to be an active organizational culture consultant to the executive team. HR leaders need to assess and understand the current culture, develop a strategic culture plan that aligns with the organization’s values and goals and then collaborate with other executive leaders to enhance and implement the plan. – Ben Weber, Vendor Resource Management

2. Define And Communicate

HR can assist leaders in developing a clear definition of sustainable company culture. What does it mean? How is it measured? How are leaders role models? How will employees have an impact? Once a clear definition is established, involve everyone at all levels in the conversation! Fostering an environment of transparency engages both employees and leaders in ownership of achieving these goals. – Sandi Wilson, FinTek Consulting

3. Include Employees In The Process

HR leaders must come up with company culture initiatives that were derived from feedback from the employees, not just using something that they heard at a conference or read in a book. Each company culture is distinctively different, as are its employees, so you must include employees when deciding how to build a company culture where they can contribute to its success and continue to thrive. – Charlene Collier, Capitol Consulting Group

4. Incorporate Sustainability Into The Brand

When building a sustainable company culture, the most important role for HR departments is to get buy-in from prospective employees before they even join the company. In order to do this, the company’s message of sustainability should be integrated into their employer brand and used to attract candidates to whom this is important. Additionally, HR can offer incentives to employees who suggest ways of advancing sustainability efforts. – John Feldmann, Insperity

5. Enable Strategic Alignment

HR can strategically play several roles in building and sustaining a company’s culture. First, HR can make the biggest impact by consulting and collaborating with leadership to align the organization’s performance management process with its vision, mission, values and core principles. Next, encouraging leadership to align recognition and reward programs to reward positive behaviors that tie into these same areas is important. Lastly, HR should be a good role model and should coach other leaders. – Kellie Graham SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Complete Children’s Health

6. Follow Your Company Strategy

Practice what you preach! I feel like that should say it all, however, I will expand… Whatever your company strategy is, follow it. One person sees you going against that and the trust walls start to crumble. Companies can use big words and come up with the most elaborate, wonderful, advanced plan to date, but if leadership does not do the simple things (follow through), then it is all for naught. Follow-through is everything. – Adam Mellor, ONE Gas, Inc.

7. Focus On How The Culture Feels

Company culture is defined by how it feels when you walk through the door and interact with employees. Building and maintaining a culture that feels positive takes the whole village. The HR team is responsible for reminding leaders how business decisions are perceived. The greatest partners provide candid feedback while caring deeply about the human in front of you. – Stacie Mallen, CampusLogic

8. Identify Areas Of Focus

It is critical for HR to take the lead role in identifying the best practice areas of focus to influence the desired culture. Once defined, HR needs to ensure the value proposition for the change is clear (what’s in it for the company and for the employees) and there has to be 100% buy-in from the top as it can’t be a HR-driven project. – Stephen Childs, Panasonic Automotive

9. Play ‘The Catcher In The Rye’

The assumption is that the company’s culture makes sense and is something everyone in the organization can reflect in their behavior with their engagement with each other, their management, their subordinates, their customers and other stakeholders. I picture HR as the “Catcher in the Rye.” HR folks understand the importance of being the culture and they provide guidance to prevent managers and employees from adversely impacting the culture. – Tracy Bittner, SPHR, Ionic Security Inc.

10. Walk The Talk

Culture is core to the success of any company. And culture is tied to behaviors of people, hiring processes, perks, etc., which in the end, define who we are or who we want to be. And every part of the core culture needs to be lived by or demonstrated by every leader. If the culture of a company is to create inclusion and positivity, then our hiring process needs to demonstrate that we pay close attention to those characteristics. – Abhijeet Narvekar, The FerVID Group

11. Find And Retain The Right People

People make the culture in a company. No matter the rhetoric of the leaders or the operational processes in place, if the right people aren’t there to manifest them into results and reality, they are nothing more than just ideas. The sacred duty of HR is to help managers bring in the most compatible candidates, maintain open communication and actionable feedback, and put the proper documentation and protections in place for when the wrong ones need to be ushered out. – Angela Nguyen, Ad Exchange Group

12. Integrate Company Values Into Training

It is impossible to build a sustainable company culture without HR’s help. HR consults with leadership to align work processes with the values that define the organization’s culture. They integrate these values into management and employee training, which reinforce and maintain the desired culture. HR is the front line of acquiring talent who embodies the organization’s values and culture. – Cameron Bishop, SkillPath

13. Start With Commitment

It takes commitment from every department for a strong culture to thrive, and it’s the primary role of HR to foster that commitment. Start with earning buy-in from your executives; they set the tone company-wide. From there, make sure everyone outside the C-suite understands your company’s mission, and, more importantly, believes in it. A shared mission will create a positive culture that lasts. – Vivian Maza, Ultimate Software

14. Serve As Architects Of Culture

HR should act as the architects of culture. Through careful analysis of the corporate landscape, it is their responsibility to devise a plan to build a strong foundation and a sustainable structure that will support and enable the work the organization endeavors to do. It is then their responsibility to work alongside management and staff to ensure the cultural edifice remains strong. – Gregory Pontrelli, Lausanne Business Solutions

15. Advocate For The Company Values

A lot of companies say “our people matter most” or that “culture is king.” But without HR’s consistent and transparent behavior to prove it, the words are empty. HR is the company’s greatest advocate of values because they are so uniquely positioned within the company to have the greatest impact. – Ben Peterson, BambooHR

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