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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Cultivating Culture

By June 9, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments

Valuing culture is synonymous with valuing employees. Culture describes how one thinks, acts, and interacts based on the organization’s mission, vision, and value statements, as well as organizational principles and models, management style, policies and procedures, expectations, and attitudes.

When organizations prioritize culture and value their employees, operations run smoother, employees feel more connected, and productivity increases. It is important to remember the value of cultivating organizational culture and how having a strong culture of effective communication, respect, and trust will help drive your organization past this pandemic.

One of the definitions of culture is: “the attitudes and behavior characteristics of a particular social group.” Culture is the foundation of your organization because it determines your staff’s collective understanding of how your non-profit operates. Therefore, defining your culture is mission critical.

How does your organization want to be defined?

Your organization’s culture is encouraged to include employee acknowledgement and recognition. Involving all employees in your organization’s mission, vision, and values is key to a successful and productive workforce. Value statements are an important part of the organization’s culture.

Defining organizational culture is key as it sets the tone for appropriate behavior, ethics, values, and conduct in the work environment. Organizational principles and models, management style, expectations, employee behavior and attitudes also affect culture.

Elements of culture include:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Strategic goals
  • Code of conduct
  • Potential disciplinary actions
  • Employee benefits
  • Engagement
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

Your culture is part of your brand.

Culture happens whether an organization defines it or not and culture is linked to organizational financial success. That is why it is so important for leadership to set the tone and to model appropriate culture. Also, each and every one of us are responsible for and impact culture. That is powerful!

Examples of different cultures include:

  • Monthly potlucks
  • Celebrating holidays with employee events (Example: Halloween costume lunch party)
  • Team-building exercises
  • Theme days
  • Employee of the month awards
  • Parking passes or gift cards for incentives or awards
  • All staff volunteer one day per year at a local non-profit

This means if an organization has a clear culture that management expects the employees to abide by they must model it. They are encouraged to acknowledge and recognize employees as well as hold employees accountable for non-compliance. That way the culture is not only visible, but there is also a shared understanding of the organization’s values and their accountability.

Examples include:

  • Management and employees model values consistently
  • Clear, consistent communication to staff regarding expected behaviors
  • Values include employee engagement and collaboration
  • Values include flexibility and employee support/resources
  • Open-door policy
  • Consistent DEI/strong ethics
  • Growth opportunities and mentorship

Check in on employee morale, trust, and engagement.

According to a Forbes.com article in 2018, a survey found that a majority of employees said they trusted strangers more than their own bosses. That is certainly something to take note of, as with the pandemic, trust has been shaken and employees may feel less secure than they did pre-COVID.

Think about how your organization’s culture has changed since the pandemic. Changing existing culture can be a difficult shift. Perhaps your organization has changed some of the culture to address the challenges with how this pandemic has affected operations. Analyzing employee preferences in unison with operational needs is encouraged as many employees may prefer to continue to work remotely, or to have a hybrid work schedule where they are allowed to continue working remotely some days and be in the office the other days.

Creating a culture that attracts strong candidates, retains high performing employees, and is visible to staff and clients supports a successful, thriving organization. Culture should be folded into recruitment practices through interview questions, onboarding, and mentorship. There are several different leadership models that can shape the organizational culture. This includes transparency, kindness, open communication, coaching and collaboration, as well as prioritizing employee wellness.

If management treats their employees with the same compassion and care that the clients receive, it will prove to be beneficial for the success of the organization and the culture will be clear to all. With a supportive and diverse organizational culture, employees perform better, they are happier at work, and your organization will thrive.

For more information on organizational culture, please join us for our new 501(c) Services webinar: The Value of Cultivating Culture on Wednesday, August 11th.


501(c) Services customers have unlimited access to HR Services. Trust members or HR subscribers can contact us anytime regarding this subject or any other HR situations.

Need HR help for a low monthly fee? Contact us today.

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

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