How All Finance Leaders Can Help Shape Corporate Culture

By Robert Half on October 25, 2021 at 8:00am

Corporate culture is a powerful thing. A lackluster or negative culture drives away top talent. An inspiring and positive culture attracts it and motivates teams to perform at their best. And when workers are happy in their jobs, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors for their employer, helping to influence public perception of the company’s products, services, mission, values and much more. That, in turn, helps the firm to build a reputation as an employer of choice.

Many companies take the position that their corporate culture is what it is — and expect workers to adapt to it. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t engage employees, help them be productive or make them feel like they never want to leave. And in the current hiring environment, where many employers are challenged in finding skilled talent for critical positions, including in accounting and finance, it is critical to ensure your business is doing all that it can to foster a talent-sticky work environment.

Taking steps to build and continually evolve your organizational culture can help your business become a talent magnet. And finance leaders can play a pivotal role in helping to do that. If you haven’t paid much attention to your role in shaping corporate culture before now, you may want to consider making it a high priority moving forward. Senior finance executives can help to build and champion corporate culture by defining (or refining, when necessary) the company’s core values and the way they translate into — and form the foundation of — the firm’s culture.

Get others thinking about corporate culture

Employees, to feel more connected to the corporate culture, need to see the company’s values and principles in action every day. If your corporate culture is one of openness and transparency, for example, you could take a more active role in improving communication about the health of the business by sharing details of financial performance and failures. If your culture emphasizes teamwork, celebrate successes so that all staff members understand how their work is having an impact.

Also, find ways to drive executive collaboration around corporate culture. While a company’s culture may evolve on its own, to a degree, executives can set the tone and provide direction for how it evolves. Kick off the discussion at senior management meetings by asking, “Are we happy with our current workplace culture?” or “What exactly is our workplace culture?” The answers to these questions could be a wake-up call that management should be doing more to modify, or strengthen, the prevailing corporate culture.

Here are five other ways you can make an impact on corporate culture as a finance leader:

1. Keep corporate culture in focus during the hiring process

When reading resumes and interviewing candidates, look for more than just technical abilities and financial knowledge. Identify professionals with top-notch soft skills. Also, try to make sure that every new hire is someone likely to support the company’s core values. For example, if your business has made innovation a top priority, hire professionals who can build processes designed to spur new ideas.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn't hire individuals who will challenge the status quo when appropriate; you’re looking for people who can readily understand what drives your company forward and are keen to help the business achieve its goals.

2. Help your employees build their careers

Does your corporate culture emphasize professional development and growth? If so, is leadership making that clear to employees and helping them visualize their future at the firm? Like many companies, this might be an area where your business needs to step up its efforts.

Become known as a manager who touches base with staff on a regular basis to make sure they’re still satisfied with their job and future options. Not only help them set steps toward their career goals but also make it easier for them to reach those milestones by connecting them with technical training and leadership development in preparation for senior roles. In words and deeds, let them know that they have a real future within your firm and that career advancement is a core part of your culture.

3. Create opportunities for connection

Remote workers are communicating with their colleagues more than ever through video conferencing and other collaboration tools. But those interactions in the course of everyday business do not always provide opportunity for teammates to interact as individuals, and to have conversations about their personal lives and interests.

You can help to promote that kind of dialogue within your team, though. For example, try scheduling some time before, during or after team meetings for employees to share personal updates. You might also consider setting up a short check-in regularly with your core team members just to catch up and make sure everyone is feeling good about their work and the organization.

4. Assess your DEI efforts

In a recent Robert Half survey, 71% of workers said they’d leave a company whose values don’t align with their own. That finding helps to underscore why all employers should be on the lookout for opportunities to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the organization by prioritizing diversity-focused recruiting and succession planning.

Team diversity is a significant factor in shaping your corporate culture. But it’s up to business leadership to make sure diversity sparks innovation, creativity and fresh thinking on the team rather than a hodgepodge of irreconcilable differences. Actively promoting DEI in your department can help spur greater productivity and success for everyone across your organization.

Also, make it as easy as possible for employees, including those who are working remotely, to take advantage of educational opportunities your firm provides, like unconscious bias training, and participate in events centered on DEI that your company helps to arrange.

Download the latest Salary Guide from Robert Half to learn more about how companies are focusing on DEI to foster welcoming, representative workforces.

5. Lead by example

A company’s culture is largely the product of its history and its past leaders — but it is always evolving. As a finance leader, you can, and should, take an active interest in reinforcing the positive elements of your company’s culture so it continues to grow and become even stronger.

“Living” your corporate culture and setting a good example for your team can help. Show pride in your organization, acknowledge the work of others, build positive workplace relationships with colleagues in other departments, and more. Small but powerful everyday actions like these can help to create a work environment where positivity and productivity flourish — the type of corporate culture that any talented professional would want to be part of.

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