Getting Agency Culture Right!

July 17 - getting culture righ


When two organizations have a similar structure, funding models and approximately the same number of employees, why does one win awards for being an employer of choice and the other struggles with conflict, turnover and low employee satisfaction?

In my experience, it has to do with three factors. One is the attitude of upper management towards their staff, and the second is how much they hold their staff accountable to both their strengths and areas for growth. The final factor is clear communication throughout the agency.

Let me share some insights from, Brantwood Community Services, a winner of the Canadian Non-Profit of Choice award for 2 years running.

On the surface, things look the same as other organizations as they wait for the government announcement to know how much their funding is being cut this year. They have a mission, vision and values statement. They have staff coming to work every day.

However, when you look below the surface, you will find an incredibly supportive, respectful and highly engaged team of individuals who deliver high-quality services to their clients every day.

On their website, they sum up their Mission, Vision, and Values as “Actively supporting new possibilities for people that lead to a fulfilled life.”

Jo-Anne Flood, Executive Director ensures that this statement is central to all their actions for both clients and staff! How does she bring this is life each day?

  1. Using recognition through all levels of the organization. That means that all members of staff are engaged in recognizing one another, as well as their managers all the way to the Executive Director. Team members are active in recognizing one another for a great attitude, being supportive and welcoming and doing a stellar job!Whether it is being shared in the weekly newsletter, on social media or on a private basis, employees are celebrated for their contribution throughout the year. Efforts are made to include personal preferences in the way that recognition is shared so each individual is rewarded in a manner that suits their comfort and personality. Of course, they also set aside 2 days for a staff recognition party every summer as well! Every employee is able to attend one of the two days of food, fun, and gratitude for their role in making Brantwood a remarkable place to work!
  2. Every staff member has a face-to-face meeting with their direct supervisor on a regular, scheduled basis. The employee’s agenda is discussed first. This is an opportunity to brainstorm solutions to challenges, to acknowledge and celebrate successes and to focus on their career goals. Any concerns are addressed within these meetings. This level of accountability ensures that all employees are succeeding in their roles and supported in their ongoing professional development.
  3. Communication – A weekly newsletter, sent out personally by Jo-Anne, is a compilation of sharing latest news impacting the agency an all levels, recognizing staff members who have gone the extra mile that week, and keeping staff members informed of what’s happening in all service areas of the organization. It is emailed weekly to every staff member and is highly valued by staff as they are kept informed, even relief and part-time staff. Team members comment regularly that this communication helps them to feel connected to the organization.

This commitment to staff growth, development, mixed with support, enables their employees to rate the organization 79.6%. And unlike most employee engagement surveys, has improved over last year by 4.6%!