People with Culture: making your company’s values work

Anton Perkin
FusionWorks
Published in
8 min readApr 29, 2022

--

In this article, we’ll talk about how a company’s values and culture help it implement its strategies and mission. We’ll start with some definitions and introductions and then will identify the possible issues and practical solutions.

Disclaimer: we’ll be using an IT company as an example, so some aspects may appear a bit subjective.

Values, Mission, Strategy

The mission defines the company's global goal, while strategy leads to its implementation through culture and values.

To develop high-tech products the world and future you will be proud of — FusionWorks

Company values must change through the years. Not because the old ones were bad, but because they are bad for what the company represents now. This is a normal process of getting mature. Just see how Uber changed its initial ‘pirate’ values into more enterprise ones — or you may watch the “Super Pumped” series instead. The same changes we experience in our personal lives. Several times. If not — this is a sign to think your life over.

At FusionWorks, we are going through the same process over and over again, sometimes it’s painful and time-consuming. There are core values such as honesty, openness and inclusion that should not be changed, but upgrades are inevitable for lots of things you thought are here forever. I love this process, but you? Will be great to see your thoughts in the comments.

Values determine the company’s culture code. Here are some aspects of why culture is so important:

Culture is not the thing you write in the company’s employee handbook, it’s what people talk about when you are not around.

Strategy is a promise, corporate culture is the execution.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Culture is formed around what you do, not what you say. If you say you are a company that values health and wellness but then brings in doughnuts every morning there is a disconnect. It’s fine to value doughnuts, who doesn’t love them but it’s not ok when your words don’t match your actions. It kills the trust you have in your team.

Job seekers are most likely to choose one job over another because of the chosen employer’s culture, according to talent acquisition professionals surveyed by the Korn Ferry Institute.

Having this said, a strong company needs to make sure it has its culture code and it’s working. At FusionWorks we use the people and culture approach which is a more progressive way of dealing with people. It is people-based, not policy-based.

If you treat people like people, they will be happier.

We can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives by giving them a working environment where they can be themselves and thrive. Understand and help your team grow together through positive activities and encouragement.

Manifesto

The manifesto is a more deliberate expression of your values and also supports the mission you have. It’s typically an emotional story that captivates your audience, emotionally connects with them, and persuades them to support your brand. It’s always a good idea to have it before we proceed to practical steps.

We build a no-bullshit company. No secrets, no lies, transparent, accountable, driven by facts, respectful to all. Openness in every aspect.

We love being tech-oriented and this infuses everything we do.

We believe being people-centric motivates and inspires much better than policies and control.

We are committed to being learning-driven, changing with the world, changing the world.

— FusionWorks

A practical guide to people-centric culture

First, let’s list the things that may make employees unhappy. It doesn’t mean your company has all of them, but they should be considered:

  1. Lack of progression and self-development.
  2. Unsatisfactory salary or benefits.
  3. Unhappiness with leadership.
  4. Lack of flexible schedules.
  5. Boring tasks.
  6. Negative experience/incident.
  7. Lack of recognition.
  8. Dissatisfaction with the company culture.
  9. A need for better work-life balance.

So here we go with implementing the People and Culture strategy. We aren’t forgetting about Human Resources, we value it and everything that goes along with it. HR is policies, procedures, and paperwork — all extremely important. But remember, People and Culture is people-based, not policy-based.

Once the employee has been onboarded (by the fabulous Human Resource team), it is time to improve their well-being, integrate them into the company, and show their value. This engagement improves productivity, creates a positive environment for the employee to thrive in, and generates happiness. Lower turnover, happier employees, and better work.

When we identify the issues, we may choose from the solutions below (not all of them work for all companies).

Supporting employees with talent and career development programs

  1. Implement the grading system — Roles and Levels — and make sure it’s well-defined.
  2. Assign employees to their current Levels. Explain their Roles.
  3. Clearly define the steps to progress to the next level.
  4. Revise the employees’ levels once in 6 months.
  5. Acknowledge employees’ successes.

According to LinkedIn, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company if it invested in their career development.

Development programs should be designed to ensure alignment between your expectations for top talent and the organization’s goals and vision. Professional development can include coaching processes, training seminars, networking opportunities, mentoring, special projects, and more.

Creating a more flexible schedule

The reason for that is the world trend toward remote work. So if it is possible with your company — consider it.

  1. Allow flexible schedule.
  2. Allow remote work if possible.
  3. Encourage a healthy work-life balance.

Many employees value a flexible work environment over compensation. In fact, 72 percent of employees would search for new opportunities if their schedule wasn’t flexible. Implementing changes to work policies can help improve retention rates.

Implementing a feedback and performance appraisal process

  1. Regularly get feedback from clients (once in 3-6 months).
  2. Pass feedback to employees.

Feedback is especially useful during the development of retention plans, and 82 percent of employees appreciate it. Feedback is essential in a remote environment; it establishes a benchmark for behaviors and skills and highlights what employees need to remain happy with their employer. Companies must be open to listening to employees and implementing changes and actions required to keep top talent.

Employee turnover can be reduced by up to 31% by managers acknowledging employee successes. Source.

Offering challenging projects where people matter

  1. Work with the clients directly.
  2. Work on interesting projects that matter.
  3. Make sure the clients listen to the voices of the employees.
  4. Make sure our employees are growing and learning on the projects.
  5. Fire bad clients.

Developing an effective employer branding strategy

Showing you are great or being great? Both. Showing your successes with no real wins doesn’t work long-term and leads to internal discontent. Being great without showing this externally won’t make the employees feel proud of the company, as well as your potential customers and employees won’t know how beautiful you are.

Companies are u̶g̶l̶y̶ copies of their founders.

People want to work in a company which grows together with them, faster than them. Also, they rarely work for those and with those whom they don’t respect at least professionally, who are weaker.

  1. Plan marketing strategy: current employees, potential employees, and customers.
  2. Communicate company strategy, mission and successes both internally and externally.
  3. Engage employees in the company’s activities.

According to a LinkedIn study, a strong employer brand can reduce turnover by 28 percent and the cost of hiring by 50 percent.

The communication and dissemination of the company’s image and actions are key to maintaining employees’ interest in remaining with the company and contributing to its success through specific projects.

46% of employees stated that a lack of transparent leadership communication is driving them to seek new employment. Meanwhile, 79% of highly engaged employees have trust and confidence in their leaders. Source.

Making culture work

  1. Clearly define the company’s mission, culture, and values.
  2. Show employees the big picture and goals.
  3. Explain mission and values.
  4. Believe in your mission and values. If you don’t believe — change them.
  5. Follow them — management should be an example.
  6. Show how mission and values work in practice.

Offering competitive benefits

  1. Offer what others have.
  2. Offer what others don’t have (to stand out).
  3. Offer benefits that make employee’s life comfortable and disappear when they leave the company.

Companies that offer competitive compensation and benefits can see 56 percent lower attrition. With the ever-changing labor market, companies need to adapt to employees’ evolving and growing needs and expectations. Nowadays, the most valuable benefits include remote work flexibility, employee discounts, time off, and financial advice.

Creating an open environment

  1. Encourage employees to speak and voice their concerns, ideas, and opinions.
  2. Treat all employees equally, on all levels. No favoritism.
  3. Treat your employees as you treat your best customers.
  4. Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and safe.

No one wants to feel excluded in an organization they are a part of. New hire wants to feel like they were hired for a reason, and that they are playing a key role in helping the business achieve its objectives.

Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, found that companies who deliberately work to encourage inclusion, diversity, development planning, and leadership development in their culture were 3.8 times more likely to be able to coach people for improved performance, 3.6 times more able to deal with personnel performance problems, and 2.9 times more likely to identify and build leaders. Source.

Instead of epilogue

In the final chapter, I’d like to show you the FusionWorks values we believe in and share with the team. They determine our culture code:

Shared understanding in everything we do. Nobody has a monopoly on the truth. Decisions are made together and actions are reasoned on all levels.

People over processes. We encourage independent decision-making and believe in the power of freedom and responsibility.

Building cognitive diversity. Inventions are done by teamwork with people with different mindsets and competencies.

Building quality products. The things we do determine who we are, create our reputation step by step and reflect our eternal pursuit of excellence.

Learning never stops. We believe gaining knowledge is a continuous process and help you invest in your education for mutual benefit.

Sharing is caring. We share our experience — successes and failures — to help others learn and grow.

Building long-term relationships. Both our employees and clients are the people we want to work with long-term.

Learn, make impact, have fun. We always support initiative, awareness, quality, spirit and creativity. As simple as it sounds.

Like, comment, share — it’s always welcome!

--

--

Anton Perkin
FusionWorks

I’m a passionate company and product manager, software engineer and community builder. Working in IT since 2004. CEO at FUSION