A recent CEO survey, conducted by Hibob, taught us that people retention, culture and work/life balance are three of the top 10 work worries keeping CEOs up at night.


Although the lack of sleep isn’t a great thing for them – from a HR perspective this a huge step forward. It tells us the importance of culture and engagement are not only being recognised by the c-suite – but they are high on their agenda. It is no longer a secret that getting your culture strategy right is just as essential to business success as getting your pricing strategy right!


A level of top-down understanding is undeniably key for agreeing appropriate budgets and resources to help launch culture building initiatives – but is it enough?!


Once the need to build a strong cultures has been identified, it’s not uncommon  for your C-Suite to sit back and wait for it to make an appearance. Why shouldn’t they? You asked for it – they’ve agreed to it, they’re willing to pay for it – so where is it?


We could get deep and metaphorical here by examining what ‘culture’ actually means and how/if it can be created. Is it Friday afternoon beers? If so, how do you get people to spend extra time in the office with the same colleagues that have been stressing them out all week in order to drink those beers? And what about the non-drinkers? Or is ‘culture’ more about flexible working and working from home policies that get people out of the office? If that’s the case, how do you fairly implement that, while ensuring you still have the right level of office cover and productivity? And what about those who need to be in the office?


However you decide to build your company culture, your initiatives will always run the risk of upsetting someone and lead to a certain level of politics – unless one magical thing happens. We go back to the C-Suite and ask them to become our ‘culture champions’.


I know spending an extra hour in the office on a Friday after a week that has been far too long is the last thing a CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, CRO or any of the other Cs actually want to do, but it is the quickest, most effective and easiest way to engage everyone else. If even the most senior players want to engage with their colleagues, join in with the company quiz, send the happy birthday email, or do the dreaded ‘reply all’ when a company-wide note goes out about cakes in the kitchen – what excuse does anyone else have not to join in?


When the c-suite become the celebrity endorsers of your engagement initiatives – it’s much easier to get everyone else to follow. Yes, they may feel like they have to attend the team lunch if their bosses boss is going, but when they get there, they’ll probably enjoy it.


Once the c-suite becomes the starting players for all culture-building activity, they can be the ones who open wider conversations around what the rest of the workforce would like to see happening in terms of future engagement – but always bear in mind that asking for feedback and not acting on it does a lot more harm than good.


Using a tool such as bob, which allows you to collect simple data on employee interests and enjoyments, is also a great way to ensure your engagement strategy incorporates relevant activity and initiatives.


But however you decide to create, enhance or maintain your culture – the c-suite should always be playing up front.


We’ll be soon sharing some exclusive advice on how one of England rugby’s most capped leaders lead from the front – so be sure to sign up for that one!

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From Katie O'Leary

Katie Heads up the UK Marketing at Hibob and has been working in B2B Marketing for both start up and corporate brands over the last 12 years. Katie is a firm believer in using creativity and communication to get brands noticed and champions great marketing as an essential part of the business strategy.