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Company culture in crisis: the internal dangers of growth and acquisition

Growth for most businesses can only be a good thing, but when it happens quickly, it can mean an influx of new people, be that those you’ve hired directly or those who have come with acquisitions of other businesses.

During this frenzied time of change, it’s easy for a business’ culture to get lost, especially if you’ve adopted another’s attitudes and personality altogether with an acquisition. Ensuring you avoid confusing your identity as an employer and getting the whole team behind your brand is critical for any business that wants a unified and engaged work force - the key driver behind any successful business.

When we started working with one of our clients, a new financial services organisation set up to offer an alternative to the mainstream, out-of-touch establishment, they were having these very problems and had been left in a tricky situation as a result. On one hand, they had inherited a substantial, disengaged work force that couldn’t adapt to being part of a highly driven business and, on the other, they had a team of otherwise dedicated employees who were over-worked from trying to achieve challenging targets. To complicate things further, their rapid growth also meant that many teams were made up entirely of new recruits who were wondering what they’d joined. 

This kind of environment created a great deal of uncertainty and tension and provided the perfect opportunity for rival brands to poach critical staff. As such, the need to stop the rot was paramount and we had to listen to the staff to pin point where and how we could change attitudes.

After some intensive surveying of the wider team and interviews with senior management, we were able to develop a detailed communication and engagement plan. We challenged the client by asking, “How much of your marketing budget do you spend on your existing staff? After all, they have to buy your brand everyday”. And we challenged whether the staff actually knew what the business wanted and needed them to be at work everyday. 

What followed was a clear vision and distinct sense of purpose, an employer brand that worked seamlessly with the corporate brand and a programme of change to increase employee engagement and create a cohesive culture. 

We also had to ensure that managers were empowered to lead and were armed with the tools they needed to recognise, reward and develop their teams. We introduced a range of tactics, from softer benefits that would temporarily put a smile on faces through to critical communications around career pathing and reward. Most importantly, we put in place a means to measure the success of the changes we were making and developed a plan for continual improvement.

This resulted in a steady rise in engagement and the business improving from a Best Companies rating of ‘poor’ to ‘one to watch’ in the space of a year.

Retention has increased, staff turnover rates have decreased, employee engagement has risen and, crucially, profits have increased.

By taking things back to basics and listening to your employees to understand how they feel at work, you can find new and better ways to get your team engaged and invested in your brand, create a strong and healthy company culture and, ultimately, continue driving your business forward.

Do these challenges sound familiar? Email or give us a call on 0117 300 3000 for a chat.

In categories: Business thoughts , Employee engagement
Author: Sam
Date published: 16.01.2017

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