By Shaveta Joshi, CHRO, ASRC Federal

As published in Forbes

Being named a top place to work is an honor and a cause for celebration for any organization. I see these credentials as an important milestone on a journey, a validation of a thoughtfully and deliberately created culture where employees feel valued and able to thrive. However, pursuing greatness doesn’t end with an accolade. Becoming a career destination — one where employees go to build their professional lives and remain for years — is an ongoing endeavor. It requires working through the myriad of decisions and actions an organization takes to wisely run the business, while also inspiring and developing employees. In effect, after you establish your standards for who you are as a company, you need to continue to earn employees’ trust every day.

How can this be achieved? It takes more than creating a positive and welcoming culture. It’s setting a plan with measurable outcomes, holding every level of the organization responsible in the process and establishing an environment for honest two-way communication.

Here are some strategies we can all follow to take it to the next level.

Deliver on your plan and exceed expectations.

Before improvements can be made, it is essential to identify your objectives and develop a plan to accomplish them. Goals should not only be measurable, specific and attainable, but they should span all departments and roles within the organization. Demonstrating an actionable plan and laying out timelines and desired outcomes shows initiative and commitment to leadership’s journey to becoming a career destination.

As teams take action to deliver on the plan, leadership should consistently and openly communicate progress with the broader company, recapping successes and noting areas for continuous improvement. It is essential to establish an ongoing cadence for reporting out, as employees should hear from their leaders on a consistent basis, not only once a year when it is time to take a survey. This communication can take place during company-wide meetings, be outlined in internal newsletters or included in day-to-day discussions.

Keeping stakeholders in the loop highlights the initiative being taken, encourages team-wide advancement and builds trust through transparency. Don’t forget to celebrate milestones and reward engagement along the way!

Think global, act local.

Employee buy-in is essential to the success of an open feedback culture. Employees must feel connected to initiatives to garner excitement and motivation towards achieving them. In order to accomplish this, the overarching plan should reflect opportunities for growth, change and communication at all levels.

Leaders at all management levels and in all areas should be equipped and prepared to receive and implement feedback. These skills can be learned through trainings and mentorship, creating a company culture that emphasizes the value of ongoing growth at all ranks and experience levels.

Organizational roadmaps should include localized processes to execute scaled feedback. Breaking down an overall goal into a department-specific task, combined with the necessary tools to accomplish it, results in a greater collective effort to move forward. Big wins start with small steps.

Create a safe space for open communication.

Employees are a company’s most important asset, and, therefore, must be prioritized above all. A truly inclusive culture implements clear channels of communication and emphasizes collaboration and connection between all parties. Establishing trusted relationships between team members and leaders is key in becoming a true career destination.

A structure that encourages employee engagement and allows open communication may look different depending on your organization, but there are a few considerations that remain relevant across diverse team types. Equal consideration (and prioritization) of positive and negative feedback is important to demonstrate that openness and honesty are pillars of the company culture. Teams should also feel secure in their ability to raise concerns, without fear of retribution or negative consequences. In practice, providing opportunities for both anonymous feedback and attributable responses can be beneficial.

It is essential to create expectations for continuous improvement within your organization. In sum, retaining your recognition as a top employer — and garnering future accolades — will only be possible through commitment to positive transformation, opportunities for development at all levels and channels for honest conversation. Applying these principles will better equip you to serve your current workforce and develop an opportunity-rich culture that attracts desirable new talent — simultaneously achieving two of your most important HR goals.

Originally published on on February 8, 2023