Tag Archive for: employee engagement

What’s the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager?

As Julias Campbell says in Remember the Titans, “attitude reflects leadership, captain.” This reigns true for the workplace as well. Leadership is the driving force of your company’s culture. 

One question we often receive from clients is, “What is the difference between a leader and a manager?” Let’s dive into the differences between the two, and the impact they have on the organization. 

Manager vs. Leader

As you have probably seen in any workplace, leaders have people who follow them and get behind their ideas and initiatives. While a manager simply has people who work for them. The biggest difference between the two is the influence and impact they have on the people with whom they interact.

As a business owner, ensuring you have managers who have strong leadership qualities is essential to your success.

Some of the most influential characteristics of a leader include:

  • Honest and Integrity
  • Inspiration
  • Communication Skills
  • Strong Vision
  • Ability to Innovate

The characteristics of a strong manager that you also want to be on the lookout for include:

  • People-focused
  • Project management
  • Execution of a vision

A manager who has a blend of the two sets of characteristics has a real opportunity to drive change and create a positive workplace culture. 

BoredPanda provides great illustrations that sum up the differences between a leader and simply a boss. The common theme between all the images is the difference in processes and the rhetoric used in the office.

Taking Leadership Beyond Management 

At Culture Works we understand that leading a team, an organization, or just a single person can be challenging. Creating success for your company as a leader requires a well-thought-out and actionable plan. 

Here are the foundational steps you can take to step closer into the leadership role:

First, begin with defining your purpose.

Create a vision and purpose for yourself and your team. Effectively communicate this purpose with your team and other employees at all levels. This creates a cohesive company spirit that makes everyone feel included.

Next, show that you are passionate about your purpose and vision.

Enthusiasm is contagious. If you show you care, your employee will care more in return. If people see that they are important to implementing the company’s vision, they will feel important and appreciated.

Show your employees the example of what they should be doing, by doing it yourself.

If you hold yourself to a higher standard than those around you, your employees will rise to the standard you set.

Maintain flexibility in how you reach your goals.

While your goals should be fixed, the way you attain them can change based on circumstances. Stay determined and focused on achieving goals, while changing course when necessary.

As you begin to create these goals for your team, be sure to consider the decisions that will create sustainable success.

Quick fixes and wins do not build momentum or increase employee engagement. Planning for long-term success will allow your employees to feel safe and secure with their employment.

Have a dual focus as you navigate through your company’s decisions.

Be sure to keep the big picture in mind always, but pay attention to the small details that build the big picture. Create your business strategy by using those small details.

Want to know more about how you can take your leadership or your team’s leadership beyond management? Read more on our taking leadership beyond management blog. 

hiring trends in the new year

The hiring process has changed over the last year and will continue to change in 2022. 

Culture Works believes that intentional hiring can be achieved in the new year with the use of role alignment and culture operations

These are some of the tools that Culture Works uses with clients, but what other hiring trends are coming in 2022?

Proactive Recruitment

A buzzword that is being thrown around in the HR sector is “proactive recruitment.” Well, it turns out that proactive recruitment is more than a buzzword, it’s also a practical tool to utilize.

Proactive recruitment is exactly what it sounds like. A company might actively talk to candidates who are already hired in another role at another company. It sounds risky, but the main hiring trend of 2022 is that anything goes. The remote work culture has additionally made proactive recruitment more tangible in the workforce.

Remote Work is Here to Stay

LinkedIn did a worldwide analysis on the job market and determined that the most sought-after jobs in the new year are remote.

This can be explained for many reasons. One of the biggest draws towards remote work is that location doesn’t matter anymore! A couple of years ago, the “Are you willing to relocate?” section of job applications might have been a scary thing to check off. Now, relocating isn’t required as often.

How Does Remote Work Affect Employee Benefits for the Future? 

Business Insider warns future job seekers to look out for “too good to be true” scenarios. This means that a company may offer a tight-knit community full of happy hours, free lunches, and other one-off perks.

While these offers are tempting, there are sometimes factors about the workplace that are not ideal to work in (despite the tempting happy hour offers).

Some questions to ask about benefits and company culture in 2022 might include:

  • How does this company address burnout? 
  • How does the company implement work-life balance? 
  • Do employees feel they are working in a safe environment? 
  • How is communication handled in the office? 

These questions are a starting point for understanding what companies are painting themselves as—compared to how they actually operate.

How to Narrow Your Search (AKA Avoid the Black Hole of LinkedIn!)

The remote workforce often means remote recruiting and hiring.

If your company posts a job offer, chances are hundreds of applicants are going to see the job posting on LinkedIn. So, how do you narrow down your talent search in the age of “one-click” job recruitment?

On LinkedIn’s blog, they highlight the best practices to use as a company using LinkedIn for hiring. Some of their main focuses for LinkedIn specifically include:

  • “Convert your company followers into new hires
  • Align your search and pipeline in one place
  • Search for new talent based on the profiles of your current top performers
  • Once you’ve found people who seem like a good fit, send them an effective InMail message” 

These are all great tips for after people have applied for a job through LinkedIn, but the time is just as valuable as your own. How can you make the process as simple but effective as possible? Some great guidelines to follow include:

  • Writing job descriptions that are detailed and very clear
  • Use the Search Insights Feature available for recruiters
  • Always, always respond, even if the response is a rejection of their application

The communication process through hiring has shifted. If a potential hire has spent an hour crafting a cover letter and application, and they never hear back regardless of the outcome, then there is less credibility tied to your business based on word-of-mouth.

Market Yourself to Potential Employees

If your company doesn’t have a marketing strategy, you’re already behind. 

While your competitors are marketing themselves to clients and future employees on various social media platforms, you have stayed in the same networking circle.

People love and value the human side of a company.  So, if your company isn’t ready to step into hiring an outsourced marketing agency, there are small steps you can take to start attracting high-value hires.

One of these steps is sharing client and employee testimonials and stories on LinkedIn or any social platforms your company has. This builds a trusting brand that new hires will be looking for when applying for jobs.

Top Skills to Be on the Lookout For

Okay, now you’re active on LinkedIn and have put effort into marketing yourself to potential employees — What’s next?

There are top skills that are being sought after in the 2022 job hiring market. These skills revolve around an individual being adaptable to situations and roles. Along with being adaptable, these following traits should be considered as a hiring manager listed by Hire Digital:

  • Technology 
  • Problem-Solving
  • Project Management
  • Digital Marketing
  • Team Player in a Remote Environment

Are you positive your company has a positive company culture? Oftentimes the positive phrases plastered over a company website don’t ring true for current employees. Learn more by reading the five signs you have a company culture on our blog.

how to set new year's resolutions to foster company culture

You’ve made it to the new year, congratulations! There are often a lot of goals and New Year’s resolutions that people make for their personal life. The good news is, there’s a way to set goals in the office that foster company culture.

Setting team goals for 2022

Maybe your office normally sets goals each New Year. How realistic are the goals normally? 

We love the optimism of shooting for the stars, truly. But maybe “Fly to Mars with Elon Musk” isn’t as doable this year. It helps as a team to create a combination of goals that are tangible and goals that are long shots. Creating a balanced list means that there will most likely be moments of checking a goal off the list— which feels great— to learning moments. 

One important aspect of setting team goals is speaking in simple terms. The simpler the goal, the easier it will be to reach that goal and check it off the list! 

Keep in mind that simple language does not mean vague. Another factor to consider is to keep goals specific. For example, simply stating “In 2022 I want the team to get closer” is hard to navigate because there are no tangible ways to measure the success of a goal. One way to switch the language to be more specific could be, “In 2022 we want to have 10 different team bonding days marked in the calendar.” 

See? Much more manageable. If you need help figuring out what team bonding exercises to do, read our blog, “5 team-bonding exercises that don’t suck.” 

Creating a Collaborative Culture

So, what happens after you make the perfect list of goals for 2022? A list is only as strong as the collaborative effort that continues on with those goals. 

Forbes discusses how to create attainable goals, with the main tips centered around: 

  • “Tangible goals means real results
  • Accountability
  • Follow Approach-Oriented goals
  • Identify pitfalls
  • Set yourself up for success.”

Let’s dive deeper into how these tips can be implemented into your team. 

Accountability in the workplace

As mentioned above, tangible goals will lead to real results. But how does accountability play into reaching a point where real results are accomplished? 

Accountability is key. 

If the set goals are simple and clear for everyone, then accountability will be easier to implement. For example, using the example above of the goal “In 2022 we want to have 10 different team bonding days marked in the calendar.”

Well, If it’s halfway through 2022 and there has only been one team-bonding activity, with no more planned in sight, then a conversation can be had between the team about how to still make that goal achievable. 

Identify internal challenges

The learning process is a part of any goal. As a team, it’s important to identify the internal challenges that could be limiting the ability to achieve the New Year’s resolutions. 

Taking a step back and looking at the processes that are set in place is a great way to start looking at internal challenges. What is holding the team back from achieving their goals? It might be resources, time, culture fit, and everything in between that impacts human nature. If the internal challenges are identified and addressed, then a positive company culture is more likely to follow. 

Are you positive your company has a positive company culture? Learn the “Five Indications of a Positive Company Culture” on our blog. 

5 team-building exercises that don’t suck

Here, stand on a table and fall backward into my arms: 5team-building exercises that don’t suck

Picture this: your manager walks into your office, tells you to be in the common room in 15 for ‘team-building’ exercises. What’s your first instinct? Speaking from experience, run! 

What if we told you the days of dreaded, forced team-building exercises are over? Believe it or not, it’s possible to make team-building a positive experience for everyone involved. We know… ground-breaking.

5 Signs you have a Positive Company Culture

Are you positive? Positive that you have a great company culture, that is? There are a LOT of factors that go into creating positive company culture.  Let’s look at some of the aspects of work that are improved by strong company culture. 

  • Office interpersonal relationships 
  • Employee retention
  • Team communication 
  • Ongoing employee growth and learning 

As you try to attract and retain the best and brightest workers in your business, you can be sure that potential employees are looking for a place where they will feel valued, and enjoy coming to work.  That doesn’t always mean smiles and high-fives. Positive company culture means one where accountability, high standards and the ability to give and receive feedback are present.

There is a LOT of talk in the Human Resources space about company culture. But what does a positive company culture actually look like in practice? And does your company have a positive company culture?

What are the green flags that let you know your culture is headed in the right direction? Here’s a brief overview of what to look for: 

You Invest in Your Team

In general, “you get what you pay for” rings true for company culture, especially with leadership investing time, resources and energy into their teams. But what does this look like in practice?

Learning and Development

Culture Works is a big advocate for consistently including Learning and Development (L&D) into the company culture. Investing in your team means more than buying lunch every month (although, who doesn’t appreciate a free meal!?). Quality L&D means investing in your employees daily.

At Culture Works, we start with purpose, people, and process. First: align with a higher purpose, then, get your people on board with how they bring value and are integral to the company’s success, and finally, implement processes that put HR and operations into action to make company culture repeatable and actionable every day. 

Implementing HR processes is at the core of building aligned organizational culture and reaching your business goals. 

Not all team-building exercises involve trust falls or baby pictures. There are many team-building exercises that don’t suck. Some examples include: 

  • Corporate Recess (incorporating play into work)
  • Emotional Intelligence training
  • Learning outings (hands on projects)

Team building and emotional intelligence days are becoming the standard in modern office spaces. But what does continuing education look like? 

Continuing Education

If a company is truly invested in employees and their future, then they are committed to that employees personal and professional growth and development. While on the job training works for vertical depth of knowledge, it takes outside learning to increase the breadth of experience.

Companies can offer to pay for classes or courses that will improve the employee’s skillset or understanding of the industry.

An example of a company that values continued education is Starbucks. Starbucks offers financial aid for any employee who is pursuing higher education. 

Their website states, “We’re committed to the success of our partners (employees). Every eligible U.S. partner working part -or full time receives 100% tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program.”

The result of their investment can be seen in their loyal employees, positive social media presence, and ability to retain workers when other industries are struggling.

Maintaining Neutrality

Politics in the workplace have never been a great idea.  This is, even more, the case now when we have seen political differences creating turmoil within office spaces across the country.

The best strategy to keep the peace is an absence of politics at work. This has become very apparent with the recent shift in vaccine mandates. Read our Founder, Kristi Pastore’s letter to companies who are managing the changes in mandated vaccines HERE.

Creating a “neutral space” does not mean that there is no room for conversation about company policy. It does, however, mean that those discussions will be more productive if they are held in a monitored, structured environment.

At Culture Works, we know that a scared workforce is an unproductive workforce. If the political views of coworkers are hindering anyone’s ability to perform their job, that’s a culture issue that can be addressed, remedied, and cleared for a more peaceful work environment going forward. Making sure that employees feel safe at work should be at the forefront of any company’s initiatives.

A healthy conversation in a scheduled meeting instead of gossiping at the coffee machine will make work a better place to be. 

Retention and Role Alignment

What if we told you your prospects are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them?

If you’re looking to hire new employees, they will evaluate your company to see if it’s a good fit for them just as you are evaluating whether they are a good fit for you. One key component any new hire is going to seek out is the current company culture. Long-term employees are a sign of positive company culture as are Glass Door reviews, articles your employees post on social media, and whether or not you promote from within. 

Role alignment means that a company sees an individual as more than just a cog in a machine.  When a company values role alignment they may move an employee into a role that is better for that employee’s strengths. Role alignment means tracking an employee’s growth and development and adding or taking away responsibilities when it creates opportunities for growth for that employee. 

The foundation of a business can crack if new hires don’t align with the company’s core purpose. Our team prioritizes role alignment in every recruiting engagement we participate in. Why? We’ve observed time after time that when your employees are aligned in their roles, they are more likely to succeed, be productive and provide long-term value.

A Flexible Work Environment

We live in an age of flexible work environments. Half the country is working off a hybrid work model, others are fully remote, and some are back to going into the office daily.

Creating a flexible work environment, however, goes deeper than where your employees are working from. Going into 2022, there will be an urgent need for more flexible work hours and other considerations.

We’re not saying let your employees work for one hour, then go surfing the rest of the day. Rather, if you’re on a Zoom meeting call with clients or employees who are working from home, there is a chance that a distraction that is unavoidable will come up.

This might mean a kid running into the frame or someone at the door who needs a sign-off on a delivery. There can and should be flexibility in these situations insofar as it doesn’t take away from the productivity of the meeting. 

The biggest way to show you’re flexible in the workplace is if something like this comes up during a call, just take a moment to pause the conversation until everyone can be fully engaged again.

Does all this warm fuzzy stuff make you worried that your employees will be less productive?  We’d challenge you to invite your team to Make Mistakes at Work.  Read on to know why! 

How to Incorporate Company Culture into your ‘Corporate Gift Giving’

Let’s be real: Gift receiving is everyone’s love language.

It’s the Holiday Season!

The Holiday season is just around the corner! As a company, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to figure out your corporate gift-giving plan.

It’s important to understand that there is a way to incorporate your company culture into corporate gift giving (yes, gifts for employees and clients!) Corporate gifting is a great way to continue connecting with your employees and clients during a busy season to show that you care, value your partnership, and are thinking of them.

In the past, companies might have missed the mark with cheesy mousepads, so let’s step it up! This doesn’t mean your gift has to be expensive. All it takes is some thought and planning.

The Psychology of Gift-Giving

Let’s first chat a little bit about the psychology behind giving and receiving gifts. There are many benefits to corporate gift giving—tangible and psychological.

Picture this: you’re a stressed employee around the holiday season. Work has piled up and there are personal distractions causing more stress than usual (family dynamics are SO fun during the holidays, right?)

Then, you receive an unexpected gift from your boss. Odds are, your day will move forward a lot more positively because of the gift, and more importantly, because it’s an act of appreciation.

From Boss to Staff

One primary way that corporate giving is incorporated is from a boss to an employee. While most companies do include holiday bonuses, there are a few other tokens of appreciation that can help you align company culture and corporate giving.

Again, don’t miss the mark with a mousepad with your company logo on it… Gifts like these come off as a last-minute thought and don’t show true appreciation.

A more thoughtful suggestion is a leatherbound notebook. A notebook can be used for planning work or as a personal writing tool. Either way, if your company focuses on the continued education of employees, this is a great way to show that their mental health is also important to the company.

If you’re unsure about what to give, try and listen to office chatter, hear what they might need or want. It could be something as simple as their favorite bottle of wine or chocolate!

Another great idea: If your company has a favorite place around the corner to get lunch, a gift card is a great, practical gift.

Gifting to Clients

Sending gifts to your clientele is a different story. You might not know them on a personal level like an employee, but don’t fret—there are still ways to show your appreciation.

One thing to avoid is sending tacky merch with your company logo. They already hired you, you don’t need to try and sell them anything.

Perhaps a personalized bottle of wine, fancy cheese, or something else that is specific to your expertise? Gifting something useful is a win. Because let’s be honest, how many branded stress balls have you received, that you still use or even have? Our guess is none.

Another idea is to add personalized touches to client gifts. For example, if you opt for the wine bottle, a wine opener with your client’s logo or name on it would show that extra level of effort and appreciation.

Company Culture

The act of corporate gifting can also provide the opportunity for team bonding. Worried about having boring team bonding exercises? Learn five team bonding exercises that don’t suck, here on our blog

One example of a bonding exercise that doesn’t suck is a ‘white elephant’ event with a set price limit. This brings the office together for a laugh and takes away the pressure of getting gifts for multiple coworkers.

How to Nail your Remote Company Culture

If you think that working remotely as a company automatically means that positive company culture is out the door, then think again. 

There are steps that you can take as a company to ensure that your employees feel heard and understand that they are valued, even when working from home (WFH). 

Defining your Purpose

At Culture Works we believe that defining your company’s purpose is one of the most important foundations for a positive culture. 

Would you be surprised to hear that your company culture is actually defined by your purpose

There’s a statistic that states, “¼ employees are either indifferent or don’t know much about their company’s mission.” 

The numbers speak for themselves, and if an employee has no level of commitment or passion towards the company’s purpose, then fostering a positive work culture will become a more difficult feat. 

If employees are working from home and don’t fully understand the company’s purpose, then the odds are they aren’t going to seek it out. This is the role of the higher up’s to implement constant purpose-driven actions. 

One way to define your purpose is to ask yourself some questions: 

  • How fulfilled are your employees?
  • How does your work impact others? 
  • What’s the meaning behind your work? 
  • What was the original goal of the company — has that changed?
  • Are you spinning your wheels or losing money because of a lack of intentional culture?  

Although those are some big questions to tackle, it’s necessary to define your company’s purpose and improve the remote work culture. 

Defining your Culture with a Hybrid Work Model

Defining your culture through Zoom has proven to be a challenge for many companies. Theresa Larkin from Zoom posted a blog highlighting ways to maintain company culture through a hybrid workforce. 

One of the key tips as many companies are returning to a hybrid model is to “create equity between on-site and remote workers.” 

Some of the ways listed to create a common ground and culture include: 

  • “Create space for hobbies and activities
  • Communicate through a company or team-wide channels
  • Host fun activities
  • Keep everyone informed on your whereabouts.” 

These are some tangible action items that will hopefully jump-start the defining of your company culture. 

Role Alignment in a Remote Workforce

Understanding each employee and their skillset on a deep level will help the whole team dive into positive company culture, this can be done with value and role alignment. 

Forbes speaks of role alignment highly claiming that role alignment can be “getting everyone on the same page” as a long-term goal, or even “understanding everyone’s role.” 

While companies commit to staying remote or moving into a hybrid model, there are bound to be changes in employee roles. People adapt and change, and as a higher-up, it’s important to keep company culture at the core of change. 

Do you dread making mistakes at work? You should actually embrace them! Learn more about why you should make mistakes at work here

What should be top of mind for your HR Manager

There are constant changes happening in the Human Resources space, so it can be important as a higher-up to acknowledge the constant changes and how those changes can impact your company. 

What does an HR Manager do? 

The role of an HR Manager might look different every day, but in general, their role falls under anything to do with:

  • Employee Recruitment
  • Learning and Development Programs
  • Adjustment to Employee Handbooks and Manuals
  • Payroll Management
  • Compliance
  • Culture Issues (We’ll expand more on this later) 
  • And so much more! 

Not sure what a Learning and Development program is? Learn more here

Throughout these daily tasks, there are current adjustments and guidelines that your HR Manager should be aware of to avoid key risks. 

DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) 

Diversity Equity Inclusion covers a wide range of topics and individuals. As an HR Manager, it can be helpful to know what regulations and HR Law changes might be coming up in the new year. 

Does the phrase “HR Law” send chills down your spine? Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds, Kristi Pastore explains the importance of HR law in the workplace and its relation to company culture here

The Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan, Robert Sellers, explains the difference between classifications: 

“Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party, Inclusion means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist, and Equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.” 

Under the role of implementing DEI efforts into company culture there are many topics, groups, and identifications that could come up including: 

  • Age
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • Language
  • Socioeconomic Standing
  • Gender Identity
  • Mental and Physical ability
  • Veteran status 

Keeping this list of factors in mind when cultivating a company culture through HR is essential for making that culture a positive one. 

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management states that as a reflection and goal for the future, “Government-wide, we have made important progress toward hiring a workforce that truly reflects America’s diversity, and we will continue to pursue that goal. But merely hiring a diverse workforce is not enough.” 

This mentality is one that will lead towards a more positive workplace and one that HR managers should do their best to follow.

Technology Advancements

There are a LOT of tools out there that can assist any HR Manager in their role. GetApp outlines some of the most-used programs used in the HR space in 2021. Here’s a couple of the most popular HR technology tools: 


Rippling is a platform that lets you “Effortlessly manage your employees’ payroll, time & attendance, benefits, compliance, and more— all in one place.” 


Beekeeper makes reaching frontline workers easier, and also has a feature that helps, “Build a company culture that transcends language barriers through automated translations.” 


Monday.com is committed to streamlining all of your HR processes on one collaborative platform. This includes:

  • Onboarding
  • HR requests
  • Employment engagement surveys
  • Vacation requests
  • Event planning

It’s time to upgrade the way you manage HR and lean into the perks of the rise of technology. 


Regulatory and business compliance is difficult to manage. This is a huge topic to dive into, but in general, your HR Manager should be fully knowledgeable of the following acts.

Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The U.S. Department of Labor claims that the FLSA, “Establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector, and in Federal, State, and local governments.” 

Equal Employment Opportunity

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has a page dedicated to updated law that would apply to HR, which can be found here

How we work with Internal HR Stakeholders

Culture Works believes that fractional HR relationships are built on the idea of adding another team member (or members) to your existing team. The fractional team partners with your in-house HR stakeholder and team to develop a strategic partnership. 

Learn about what working with an outsourced company would look like here

COVID-19 Vaccine- What Employers Need to Know

The COVID-19 vaccine has now become widely available in the U.S. As more and more people get the vaccine, employers are asking whether or not the vaccine can or should be required to return to in-person work in the office. With the desire for life to return to normal, some employers think of the vaccine as a way to make employees feel safe as they return back to the office, however, this may bring up greater HR issues that employers may not yet have considered. 

Can Company Culture Change?

Company culture is one of the most talked-about topics for business owners and human resource professionals. Your organization’s culture can make or break your business. Many companies are now realizing their culture needs to reflect their company’s values in order to attract and retain the best employees and see long-term success.