Having a strong company culture is vital for every successful organisation. Culture influences everything from your daily processes to your top-level strategic decisions, leaving its mark on your brand identity, employee engagement, retention rates, and more.

However, no company culture is fixed. It’s constantly evolving in response to changes in the industry, new leadership, shifting demographics, and other internal and external factors – and it’s HR’s responsibility to guide that evolution.

Here are six of the ways HR professionals can influence organisational culture, making it successful, adaptable, and sustainable over the long term.

1. Taking the Lead on Culture

The simplest way HR can influence company culture is by taking an active approach. HR leaders should work with the executive team and stakeholders across the business to evaluate their current company culture, assess potential gaps or opportunities, and create a strategic plan to align the organisation’s culture with its values and goals.

Once a clear vision for the company culture is established, HR must work with leaders across all areas of the business to implement their plan. Open, transparent communication is vital here: everyone at every level should have a clear understanding of the part they play in bringing the company culture to life.

2. Align Recruitment With Your Goals

The people you hire and how you hire them will have an enormous impact on your company’s culture, and HR should align their recruitment practices with the organisation’s core values.

For example, if your company culture champions diversity and inclusion, your hiring processes could include:

  • Writing inclusive job descriptions
  • Using ‘blind hiring’ techniques when shortlisting candidates
  • Implementing unconscious bias training
  • Allowing for reasonable adjustments at interviews
  • Tracking diversity hiring metrics
  • Offering targeted internships

It may also make sense to adapt your company culture to make it easier to attract qualified staff, particularly if you’re recruiting in an in-demand niche or a particularly competitive region.

For example, you might push to introduce flexible working as an added bonus for potential hires, or make your teams permanently remote to give your company access to the widest possible pool of talent.

3. Use Strategic Compensation and Reward

A competitive compensation scheme is vital for creating a culture where employees feel valued for the work they do.

However, compensation is about more than salary, and strategic reward programmes can play a part in encouraging the behaviours that are important to your company’s culture. For example:

  • If you want to develop a culture of innovation and learning, you could give each employee an annual bursary to spend on their own projects, or create a book-buying fund to make it easy for them to access new ideas.
  • If your company culture is fast-paced and demanding, you could provide catered lunches and other useful amenities, freeing up your employees to focus on work.
  • If you’re a sustainable and environmentally conscious company, you could invest in a cycle-to-work or car-sharing scheme.

Google is a great example of this in action. Their culture is built around high performance, so they offer a variety of on-the-spot rewards for a job well done – from peer-nominated cash bonuses to trips to Hawaii. The results are impressive: 86% of Google employees are happy with their jobs.

4. Keep Leaders on Track

With so much on their plate, it can be easy for senior leaders to lose sight of how business decisions are perceived by the wider organisation.

HR professionals are responsible for bringing the company culture to the fore by reminding executives of the impact their choices have on employee morale and engagement, and how important it is for the company to act in accordance with its values.

5. Champion Learning & Development

With the rise of new technologies and an ever-increasing rate of change, it’s never been more important to have a workforce that’s adaptable, forward-thinking, and willing to learn.

HR leaders can encourage this by championing professional learning across every area of the organisation. This could include:

  • Investing in professional qualifications and accreditation for your employees
  • Setting up coaching and mentoring programmes
  • Encouraging social and collaborative learning between teams
  • Making digital learning available on-demand to allow employees to take charge of their own education

By building a culture that promotes continuous professional development, HR can ensure their teams are always one step ahead.

6. Practice What You Preach

The HR department should act as a role model within a company, embodying the behaviours and values that the organisation wants to promote.

Few things negatively impact a company culture so quickly as leaders going against their own purported values; likewise, a good example set by leadership can be transformative in gaining buy-in from the rest of the organisation.

HR leaders are therefore uniquely positioned to shape their company’s culture in ways both deliberate and unintentional. In doing so, they play a major role not only in the success of the company, but in the happiness and fulfilment of their colleagues.

That makes it vital to build trust and close connection with your teams. By keeping your word, listening to others, and acting in accordance with your values every day, you can be the champion of your company’s culture – and help it flourish.

About the Author

ICS Learn is a leading online learning provider with 30 years of experience delivering CIPD qualifications in more than 100 countries worldwide.

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