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Why every business needs a chief cultural officer

Professional services firms and organisations across the board should be appointing people to oversee employee engagement and workplace environment, according to one professional. 

LinkedIn research shows that top-performing companies all have one thing in common – an emphasis on providing the best possible workplace culture, inclusive of flexible arrangements, health and wellbeing programs, and an emphasis on fitness. 

Supporting this is findings from Deloitte, which show that 84 per cent of Millennial workers say having flexibility is important to them, with employee values shifting towards an optimal workplace experience and away from higher salaries. 

In response to such studies, it is important for businesses to appoint a chief cultural officer (CCO), says one such professional. 

OpenLearning CCO Sarah Sahyoun said it is especially important for such appointments to be made during periods of growth. 

"As a business begins to scale and your team begins to grow, it's crucial to start considering how to foster the right attitudes and behaviours among your team," she said. 

"This period of growth is generally when company values, vision and objectives begin to blur and cultures begin to change." 

Another important time at which to appoint a CCO is when a business branches out into different geographical locations, she said. 

"This physical distance can speed up the need for a CCO as it increases the proximity between people and demands for strong communication channels and frameworks," she said. 

"The role of the CCO in this instance is needed sooner to ensure your team feels united and cohesive, irrespective of location." 

A CCO should cover a full spectrum of cultural issues, and look to target specific issues depending on the needs and idiosyncrasies of a particular workplace. 

A good CCO, Ms Sahyoun said, will be able to identify the most pressing issues and come up with proactive solutions to them. 

"Culture in any workplace is organic. It brews and exists the moment you bring different people together. The culture of a company sets a powerful tone in any work environment as it directly impacts upon your people, their mindsets and their behaviours," she said. 

"Investing in your people is a number one priority for businesses, as they are the ones who drive your bottom line." 

Also of importance is what motivates, incentivises and encourages employee attitudes and behaviours, given how inextricably linked the social and human aspects of the workplace are to the duties of a CCO. 

"A great culture is made up of the way messages are communicated and the types of people you attract and hire to your team. It is also linked to the brand, the values, vision and how the brand is perceived amongst your team," she argued. 

"Caring about your team's health and wellbeing is important as it directly impacts their performance and experience within your business." 

Finally, having your business play a positive role in a person's overall wellbeing will increase your chances of employee loyalty and, in turn, improve retention rates. 

"It makes good business sense to ensure you have a great company culture, as it directly impacts a business' attrition rates and, therefore, the bottom line," she concluded. 

"Having a dedicated CCO improves overall levels of wellness as the business benefits from having someone's full-time attention on its people and the experiences they will have within the business."

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