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How to redefine workforce culture and values

As a business leader or HR professional the chances are that you’ll have experienced (or are currently experiencing) one or more of these scenarios… Teams working in silos. Internal power struggles. Lack of leadership. Poor communication. A lack of understanding of strategic direction among employees. Low productivity. Inexperienced and/or under-supported managers. Maybe even increasing customer dissatisfaction and complaints.

These are all causes of a dysfunctional workplace culture and low levels of employee engagement. And there is a very real bottom-line cost to your business when employees are disengaged. According to Gallup, a staggering 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or actively engaged in their job. In the UK, only around one in ten workers is engaged at work – at a cost of approximately £60 billion per year.

So how do you turn things around? 

Leverage your internal expertise

It starts at the top, of course. Employee engagement isn’t a ‘thing’, it’s an outcome. And more than that, it’s a mindset; the most effective leaders know this.

You also need the ‘right’ people to be seated at the top table. Employee engagement is not just ‘owned’ by leaders and HR; it cannot simply be a programme of activity that HR is responsible for initiating, implementing and managing. Everyone in the organisation has a part to play (individuals must take ownership of their own engagement too) and this becomes even more crucial during times of change. Initiating a shift in workplace culture – or a fully-blown reinvention of – is hard because it means changing behaviours, not just systems and processes.

This is where many organisations struggle.

Leveraging your internal expertise and identifying those ‘critical friends’ who will help you make the changes needed is essential. It requires a multidisciplinary approach, with HR, Internal Communications (IC) and IT all working together with leadership to get the whole organisation behind the changes.

Use an external partner

Organisations that are not fortunate enough to have a dedicated IC function (which is common) may find this harder, but even large organisations look to the outside world for an expert pair of hands. Indeed, working with a company experienced in employee engagement can often be a catalyst for change in and of itself (if they’re good) since they’re able to uncover an organisation’s shortcomings objectively, without fear of reproach.

And here’s a case in point. cofinitive are regularly commissioned by companies to help them develop a set of corporate values that underpin everything they do. The values need build on the company’s vision, mission and objectives and need to reflect the kinds of behaviours that will help the company to thrive and be a great place to work, and to eliminate any behaviours that were holding them back.

We run workshops with every level of the organisation – in the locations where their employees reside – to capture their thoughts and ideas on what those values should look like. As we are independent of the organisation, people felt able to express their views openly which meant we had rich insights to work with. This kind of work is difficult (and sometimes impossible) for organisations to do themselves, especially where there is potentially a lack of trust or faith in leadership or HR (or both).

An effective third party helps bridge the gap between HR, IC and IT, all of which have traditionally worked in siloes, each having its own set of objectives and ways of working. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for internal power struggles to inadvertently undermine an organisation’s effectiveness. HR, as gatekeepers of employee communications, may not see a need to look beyond their own skillset, and yet IC are master-crafters of messages that can bring a strategic narrative to life. IT must collaborate with HR to ensure that new technologies address the organisation’s needs and meet the needs of those who use it. In fact, with the increasing focus on employee experience, it’s even more imperative that HR and IT collaborate. When all three disciplines pool their expertise to achieve shared goals, they are a powerful agent of change.

Take the long view

Working with external consultants does, of course, require an investment of time so naturally you want to get the most benefit from it.

When it comes to organisational change and employee engagement, cofinitive works hard to gain a deep understanding of an organisation as quickly as possible. And more often than not, we find that a one-off piece of work – an employee engagement strategy for example – naturally develops into creating a tactical programme of activity that the client can implement themselves. This is where our belief in partnership working really pays off: that initial investment of time in getting under the skin of an organisation (in a good way!) leads to longer-term value creation for the client.


We’re here to help. Get in touch and talk us through your employee engagement challenges. Looking beyond the current challenges we all face, we know that the most resilient organisations will be those that have a strong workplace culture and continue to put their people first. Drop us a line today.