Bringing about a culture change in your company can be a challenging process. People, just like an organization, are complex and the difficulty of changing habits and set thought patterns can be difficult. You know this personally if you’ve ever tried to change up a daily habit. However, without properly engaging your employees in the change process you cannot expect to successfully drive and sustain a culture change.

Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is vital to business success. And as you navigate through changing your company culture having your employees engaged will make your transition that much easier. During a culture change, leaders should make it a priority to ensure that employees are engaged. This starts with you being genuine and open, allowing employees to feel that they are heard and empowered.

When employees are engaged, they understand and align with the company values and are dedicated to the company mission. This generates loyalty towards the company and a motivation to perform at their best. They feel empowered to pay an active role and make a difference. When you make employees feel included and part of the process they become your partners in driving the culture change that you desire.

Communication Strategy
When you start with a culture change in your organization it’s important to have a strategy for how you want to go about employee engagement. This is where you choose your narrative and decide how to reach employees. It’s even more important if your workforce spans over more than one location as in these times most employees are working remotely.

It’s also important to be thoroughly prepared and make sure the information you’re sharing is accurate and reliable. Update and communicate with the employees on a regular basis. Your communication does not need to be lengthy lectures. Instead, keep your message simple, easy to understand, and consistent. Be sure to focus on the “why” behind the culture change as well.

Here are some tips for employee engagement during a culture change:

1. Create a network
Changing a culture is more than just sending out memos and hoping employees will get your idea. It’s about how you present yourself and engage directly with the people that make up the company. Create a network of people that you communicate with regularly. This will be your place to share your thoughts and lessons and get advice on important issues that come up.

2. Encourage feedback
Engagement is a two-way street. The best way to encourage employee engagement is to get their feedback. Whatever changes you’re making in the company culture ask your employees to give their feedback on it. When you do implement changes based on the feedback, share it with them.

3. Visual display
A great way to bring your culture to life is through the use of symbols, artifacts, and pieces of art that represent your culture. This can include your company values on t-shirts and other merchandise or planning rituals and building traditions around your culture. This is a physical reminder of what the company values most.

4. Create meaning
People are more likely to understand and adapt to a culture change when they find meaning in it. Allow your employees to make sense of the change on their own which allows the change process is smoother. Let your employees absorb the information, ask questions, and express what the change means to them. Create opportunities for them to process the culture change.

5. Own the change
To get your employees engaged and excited about the change, company leaders should start by owning the change and adapting the new mindsets themselves. It’s hard to change employee mindsets if they believe that the change is only about the bottom line and they are not valued as people. When you embrace the mindset you want to bring to the company you’ll inspire your staff to follow.

During this process, it is important to find ways to build trust with your employees. When you go beyond words, live by the values you want to implement, and show your employees that they’re valued, it will lead to a healthy relationship with them. Then find ways to enjoy the culture you wish to bring. Live your values and have fun while you’re doing it. This will draw others in and encourage them to follow.