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Company Culture – One of the biggest challenges faced by businesses today

Written by: Hazel Wild – Head of HR & Training at ERS Medical

Culture is an interesting subject and is still one of the biggest challenges that we as businesses face today.

As the Head of HR at ERS Medical, I am lucky to be part of the changes to our company culture that have been taking place over the last two years.

Who really owns company culture?

A lot of businesses have the opinion that culture is owned by their HR department, but I believe that culture should be owned by everyone. HR, of course, plays a pivotal role in driving the culture, but it is also important to identify who the right person is to focus on each component of developing the culture, and for HR to support these efforts.

As an example, in my role, I support our leadership team with the initiatives that will impact the business at a company-wide level. However, each team and department then act as its own micro-culture. Managers, therefore, have a vital role in shaping and preserving the culture. They are aware of and responsible for what is happening at a team level.

To support managers become owners of the company culture, managers should fully understand the company culture and how this links to people from recruitment and on-boarding all the way through the complete employee life-cycle.

What’s the best way to strengthen company culture?

Businesses are always faced with pressures that often take priority. These influences are often outside of our control but being a leader of culture, may not come in the form of huge initiatives, but should come from having a culture mindset and ensuring that culture is included in your everyday work, ideas and decisions that are made.

If you want to do culture well, you have to embed the business culture into all HR processes and make sure that you have culture layered into all that you do, based on what is appropriate to your business.

For example, we have recently implemented an employee benefit called WAGESTREAM, this gives staff access to their salary as it is earnt. One of our company values is “compassion’ this value focuses on being supportive and understanding other’s needs. After listening to staff and working with health assured, we wanted to support the effects that financial difficulties have on mental health within the workplace. We recognise that real people are involved in our decisions and they have real concerns, and this gave us an opportunity to genuinely invest in our people.

Within my role, I am able to be part of operational and team meetings, whenever I have the opportunity, and this supports me to learn and listen to what is happening throughout our business and where I can help and add a difference.

What creates the best foundations for a strong culture?

ERS has a clear mission statement, vision statement, and seven clear values, which are essential components of a healthy culture. Everyone in the business should know them, hear them, and understand them. They should be written down and communicated as often as possible.

Looking at how company culture affects who and how you hire?

Our culture was defined and created by our Managing Director  and our Senior Leadership Team. As it took shape, efforts have been made to align our culture across our business, processes and systems.

This year we want to focus on embedding our culture within our hiring process, to ensure that ERS is seeking to find people who support our values and that we take accountability for the new talent that we bring into ERS.

I heard a great quote recently, “It actually doesn’t matter what your values are, what matters is that you have them and you commit to them and align the entire organisation around them”. My understanding of this quote is that as a business you are willing to live your values and hire and dismiss based on them.

Our Values and Purpose

Personally, I love our purpose ‘A reliable, caring service that puts people at the heart of everything we do’ in my role as HR, I work with the people every day and they are always at the heart of what I do and the decisions that I make. Our purpose is also to make sure that our stakeholders and patients are also at the heart of what we do within the service we offer and the quality that we deliver.

I support all of our values, ‘innovation’ is one I enjoy to talk about as many people in their working careers are not always given the opportunity to be curious and to ask questions or to look at ways of improving how we do things for the future, but at ERS we want to hear from our staff and learn from their ideas and staff are nominated through our staff recognition programme, which looks at staff and how they link and contribute to our values throughout each quarter.

We all must be willing to have productive and meaningful conversations about our values, whether this is at the recruitment stage or in appraisals or collected through staff surveys. By doing this, we are able to move relationships, work forward and more importantly reach our mission and goals together.