Culture. It’s a word used a lot in the context of the workplace – how a company’s culture differentiates it from the competition, how it ‘eats strategy for lunch’, why it must be a top-down process and so on. There are countless papers, articles, and programmes that seek to describe and define company culture, but former McKinsey boss Martin Bower summed it up best when he described culture simply as ‘the way we do things around here’.
Since Bower wrote those words over 50 years ago, culture has become one of the most valuable assets a company can possess. Commonly held to be critical to talent acquisition, employee engagement, commercial partnerships, and much more, companies are spending huge time and investment on getting the culture piece just right. Indeed, Zappos and Amazon will famously pay an employee who doesn’t feel that they fully fit the culture a portion of their future salary to leave the company.
“Just about every part of a company’s operations perform better when the overall culture is positive and strong”
So why the huge investment in culture? Simply put, because it works. Just about every part of a company’s operations perform better when the overall culture is positive and strong, and our experience at Voxpro – powered by TELUS International has been no different.
Take, for example, Voxpro’s CSR initiatives and the TELUS Days of Giving. Designed to infuse a deeper sense of purpose into the daily job, our team members have the opportunity to volunteer in their local communities around the world through projects like refurbishing schools, building houses and constructing facilities for local charities.
Along with providing a greater sense of purpose, we are obsessive about giving our people clear paths for progression internally. Through extensive L&D programmes, yellow belt initiatives, and internal innovation projects, we have created a true culture of internal promotion, resulting in over 80 percent of support roles being filled internally.
Such efforts to create a ‘beautiful employee experience’ have led to employee engagement scores of over 80 percent, globally annualised attrition rates of 35 percent (over 50 percent lower than our competitors), and an employee referral programme that fills up to 40 percent of new roles – and referrals stay over 50 percent longer in the job. Our partners, all of who share a similar obsession about company culture, will all report similar experiences.
However, this development of a strong company culture doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, investment, and clarity of purpose to create. Additionally, in this age of digitally powered hypergrowth, many companies find themselves having to create such a culture not just in one location, but in several across the globe. As the organisation scales into new geographies, often on different continents, one of the greatest challenges is getting the new teams to understand and buy in to ‘the way we do things around here’. ‘Here’, of course, being HQ.
“Spreading our strong culture from Cork to the rest of the world has been a challenge, but one that through trial and error we have successfully overcome.”
Just six years ago, Voxpro was a 400-person company, operating from one centre of excellence in Cork, Ireland. Two years later, it was a 1600-person company, operating from seven centres of excellence across three continents. Today, Voxpro is part of the TELUS family of 35,000 team members in 27 sites across three continents. Spreading our strong culture from Cork to the rest of the world has been a challenge, but one that through trial and error we have successfully overcome. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way:
Create a strong ‘leadership brand’
A company with a leadership brand inspires faith that employees and managers will consistently make good on the firm’s promises. We have defined a ‘brand’ of leadership in Voxpro which lays down a vision for the company’s senior representatives. We run leadership development programmes to build leaders in beautiful customer experience. Once we have found and trained our leaders, we send them out across all of our international offices to act almost as role models for the company brand.
Allow wiggle room for local adaptation
The processes you put in place to successfully scale your culture need to have enough wriggle room built in to allow for cultural differences. Not everything is going to work everywhere so allow the process to breathe and evolve accordingly – don’t shoe-horn it in.
Allow enough time to settle before opening the culture flood gates
When new sites open, the wrong thing to do is to bombard culture in the door, it’s too much and people need to adjust to some basic things like who is their line manager, where the fire exits are located, and where they’re going to get their morning coffee.
Culture should be trickle fed into a new site: there should be traces of it from day one so that when things have settled down, adding more tools that reinforce a set of core beliefs or values are not changed, they are congruent and the world inside work makes sense.
Mobilise your cultural ambassadors
Identify your culture ambassadors, and physically put them in new sites. Put them in positions of influence so they can challenge the status quo, reshape behaviours and be able to say with credibility ‘that’s not the way we do things round here’.
“Not only has this been of benefit to our people, but also to our partners – rapidly scaling tech companies that value culture as much as we do.”
These steps have helped Voxpro to become a truly global company with a single strong culture that permeates every centre of excellence we have in every country from which we operate. Not only has this been of benefit to our people, but also to our partners – rapidly scaling tech companies that value culture as much as we do.
One of Voxpro’s core USPs is our agility. It means that we can grow seamlessly alongside our partners, adding headcount and services as required to ensure they scale successfully. But growth without consistency of quality is futile, and having a single strong culture globally ensures that standards never drop as operations grow. Your team members in Bucharest and Manila will be as highly trained, engaged and operationally obsessive as those in Cork and Folsom. And, crucially, systems and processes can be monitored and improved from afar – a typical example being a 22 percent increase in the NPS of our Philippines site through a performance improvement strategy implemented from Ireland.
When your company is in hyper-growth and you are trying to spread your culture and values across an ever-growing number of people and offices, it can at times feel quite uncomfortable. You’re nervous about how it will be received, what people will think, and that it won’t really work in certain places and cultures. And the reality is you’re right to feel this way. Each geography that you open in has its own particular culture, employment law, and general approach to work and productivity. But time and time again, building a strong single culture has been proven to provide returns far beyond the investment and, most important of all, you’ll be proud to tell your people and partners that this is ‘the way we do things around here’.
Interested to see what happens when we bring your great culture and our great culture together through partnership? Get in touch today.