An organization’s culture is completely unique to what’s important to the company.
While some companies value a comfortable workspace where employees and team members can come together to collaborate, other organizations are fine with limiting in-person contact with the use of cubicles, offices, and even remote work. Some companies have a culture of open communication, while others stick to a chain of command that organizes communication. There are a variety of little things that all contribute to a company’s culture.
As an HR professional, you know that a company’s culture greatly impacts how people feel when they come to work. So, when an organization doesn’t prioritize creating a great company culture, it’s likely that the overall happiness and satisfaction of employees in the workplace will suffer.
This won’t just affect your eNPS (employee net promoter score); many studies have shown that when team members feel discouraged, unmotivated, and not valued, their productivity dips.
There’s no shortage of negative impacts when company culture and employees aren’t compatible. What can you do as an HR leader to help?
The goal-setting framework Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are used in situations like this to bring about organizational change. One of these changes can be to improve the culture.
It changes how people work at all levels of the business to meet the same overarching objective.
As a result, this often brings a sense of unity and focus to a workforce which, in turn, can completely change a company’s culture.
So, let’s take a closer look at organizational culture, its importance, and the benefits of using OKRs to help you build it.
What is Organizational Culture?
An organization’s culture is made up of lots of intangible things such as the mission, values, goals, beliefs, or objectives.
It’s all about what’s important to the organization and the employees who work there.
An organization can tangibly demonstrate its culture through:
· How they treat their employees and customers
· The level of transparency in information shared with employees and customers
There’s no blueprint for “the right” company culture, as what works for one organization might not work for another. However, as an HR leader, you can help cultivate healthy cultural habits according to your company’s specific wants and needs.
Why is Having a Great Organizational Culture Important?
Put simply, businesses with a strong, healthy organizational culture tend to be more successful than those without.
Employees want to work for an organization that aligns with their values and beliefs.
They don’t tend to leave when they find a place they feel at home. This helps businesses to hold on to their most loyal and dedicated employees.
One of the best things about businesses with a great organizational culture is that they are better at recognizing performance and productivity. Recognition can boost employee engagement, motivation, and productivity.
So, how do OKRs fit in with boosting organizational culture? Let’s start with the simple question: What is OKR?
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. This goal-setting framework uses short, memorable, ambitious objectives or goal statements to direct the focus and resources of the business and measurable, actionable key results to help measure those goals in a quantifiable and objective manner.
Here are some of the benefits of OKRs when used to create a great organizational culture:
1. Decreased turnover levels
Your company might have an offboarding process involving an exit interview or survey. If you’ve interviewed an employee who resigned from their position before, you might have more insight into why they’re leaving.
Usually, employees can name a specific reason for leaving their position that stems from a dislike for how things are done or some aspect of the company culture. For example, people often feel like they don’t belong or that their values are not represented by the company.
One survey found that company culture was a bigger factor than salary when considering a job offer. That might tell you just how important organizational culture is to employees.
Strong company culture keeps people around, meaning you retain the top talent and see lower turnover levels.
Considering how a prospective employee fits into your company culture also helps decrease turnover in the long run because you’re only hiring people who are compatible with how things run in your organization.
By being transparent about your company’s values, beliefs, and mission, you’ll attract new employees with a compatible outlook on their professional life. OKRs help establish a transparency culture by helping align teams horizontally and vertically. OKR transparency can help you establish and communicate your company culture across the board to benefit your organization and employees.
2. Increased performance & engagement
When employees feel dedicated to their company’s cause or mission, they are more engaged in their work.
This is because they feel connected to their work and are driven by purpose and passion. This intrinsic motivation pushes employees to work harder because they want to, not because they have to.
It’s not hard to believe businesses with engaged employees are more successful than those without. Companies with a great culture have a system in place to ensure that those employees who are performing well are rewarded.
When their great work is recognized, employees are happier and will see the continued benefit of their hard work. This circle of reward and recognition helps maintain a happy workforce.
You can set an OKR to create an employee recognition program or to have managers prioritize giving relevant, positive feedback to hard-working team members to see these benefits.
3. Improved success in recruitment campaigns
When you’re open about your company culture with job seekers, those applying for your jobs will be the right kind of people you’re looking for.
Before applying, job seekers look for information about the organizations they’re looking to join.
This involves looking at what the company believes in, where they invest their time and money, and how they treat their staff and customers.
If your company’s culture is weak or unappealing, you risk the chance of missing out on some great candidates. That’s why it’s important to put some thought and effort into creating an enticing brand that people want to be part of. You can create an HR departmental OKR to help get the word out about your company’s excellent culture to attract compatible candidates to your organization.
4. A healthy, happy working environment
When your team feels valued and engaged in their work, they are more motivated and happier in their roles.
Not everyone will be happy all the time. There will always be points of frustration and stress. The difference is, however, that because employees feel valued, they’re more willing to work through these frustrations.
A belief in a company’s overarching mission and values helps employees stay motivated even in times of pressure or tension.
A clear and defined organizational culture helps employees feel their work has purpose and importance. Organizations that use OKRs can transparently list their top priorities and map out how each and every department, team, and even individual employee contributes to the mission.
Putting purpose and passion first makes for a happier workforce, and showing employees how they contribute to that organizational mission with OKRs creates an all-around better working environment.
How Can OKR Implementation Improve An Organization’s Culture?
OKRs are used by businesses to set challenging goals with a set of measurable key results.
Simply put, they define “what” a business wants to achieve and “how” they plan on getting there. OKR implementation is a crucial step toward improving the organizational culture in a systematic and progressive manner.
Progress tracking is progress in meeting the goal and working towards the key results. This is done through many regular meetings between staff and managers.
How can a business use OKRs to improve its culture?
1. OKRs bring a sense of focus to the workforce.
They are not intended to be easy to achieve and will, therefore, require determination and dedication to see them through. Employees often feel like they don’t know how their work is important in the bigger picture of the business or have too many tasks to try and focus on at once. Because OKRs ask employees to focus their time and energy on only a few things, it helps people feel like they have a purpose and direction.
2. OKRs create a sense of alignment in an organization.
OKRs are created following the overall goal of an organization. This goal is then used when setting team OKRs and individual OKRs. This helps to create a sense of alignment as everyone is moving in the same direction to achieve one overarching goal. This feeling of alignment boosts organizational culture as employees all understand the purpose of their role and how it helps the organization in its mission.
3. OKRs help to motivate and engage employees in their work.
The responsibility and accountability of the OKR process encourage employees to engage with their objectives. The goals that they’re working towards are ones that they set for themselves. As a result, they’re more inclined to try and meet them. A happy, engaged staff makes for a better organizational culture.
4. The OKR creates transparency and facilitates open communication.
OKRs are usually only set to last one quarter. As a result, tight timelines often need to be met. This is why such importance is placed on regularly reviewing how things are going. Employees are encouraged to speak up when things aren’t working, creating a culture where goals are open, and progress can be reviewed by anyone at any time.
How Do OKRs Bring Together Culture & Teamwork?
By design, OKRs are a team effort.
OKR implementation requires the brainpower and engagement of the entire organization.
While there may always be a few standout employees that consistently get results, this isn’t going to be enough to make the major changes to your company that you want to.
The best way to move a business forward is through everyone in the team moving in the same direction at the same speed.
You need the input of every employee to truly make a change.
OKRs bring together culture and teamwork as the process encourages a team of people to work together to make the organization a better place. This is one of the many benefits of using OKRs.
As part of this process, employees are encouraged to speak openly about what they like and don’t like about the current culture.
Planning OKRs, therefore, brings a team together in agreeing on what they think a good organizational culture looks like, where the business is currently, and how it can improve.
It then allows both the team and individuals to take responsibility for setting their own goals.
Each of these goals contributes to helping the organization improve its culture for everyone. Everyone then works individually and as a team to make the workplace culture progressive and diverse.
Examples Of Organizational Culture OKRs
The best way to start with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is to look at examples of what you can do with OKRs in your organization. Regarding setting up goals linked to organizational culture, here are some great OKR examples:
Objective 1: To create a company culture that prioritizes our people
- Fill at least 25% of roles through internal promotion
- Have 100% of staff complete a personal development plan
- Review the organization’s core values with the assistance of at least 5 employees from different departments
Objective 2: Create a team that celebrates diversity and inclusion
- 100% of the management team should complete unconscious bias training
- Increase the number of B.A.M.E. employees from 15% to 25%
- Increase the number of leadership positions filled by women to 40%
Objective 3: Improve employee retention rates
- Confirm 100% of roles are in line with current industry standards
- Complete quarterly employee surveys for feedback on things that can be improved
- Have all managers hold 1-on-1s with their direct reports to discuss their career goals and create a path to achieving it
- Decrease the number of voluntary resignations in the Contact Center team by 20%
Objective 4: Create a defined path for manager development
- All managers should enroll in the organizational management training course within the first 2 months of their start date
- First-time managers should be given a senior manager to act as a mentor during their first 6 months in the role
- Increase the satisfaction score to 70% for managers in the employee satisfaction survey
- Managers should be given regular training to improve their management skills
- Employee surveys should be carried out anonymously each month and feedback given to each manager
Objective 5: Improve the well-being of all staff in the office
- Decrease the number of sick days taken each month per employee from 3 to 2
- Carry out a survey asking employees how they feel about their current work/life balance and how it could be improved
- Provide employees with one mental health day to use every quarter
- Ensure employees have access to free healthy snacks at least once a week
Objective 6: Review, refine, and promote the company values
- Put together a working group with 20 team members from across the organization to review and rework the values
- Create and publish an updated set of values
- Promote the values throughout the office with imagery, by email and team meetings
Wrapping Things Up
Making sure you have a strong organizational culture is integral to success. Your organization affects every aspect of your company: who you employ, how well they perform, and how everyone sees your business.
Given that many of these factors are dependent on recruitment and on those working in HR, OKRs are incredibly useful for improving processes and clearly articulating human resources goals and priorities.
Sasi Dharan, Marketing Manager, Profit.co,
In his current role, he leads the Digital Marketing Team. He has a decade of experience in Project management, Operation Excellence Consulting, and Digital Marketing.
He is passionate about creating new approaches to brand awareness and demand generation. He is passionate about learning new technologies and strategies in marketing and deploying them in his organization. He is also an avid traveler and a biker who has traveled almost 7000 miles in a year.