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Being Intentional About Your Company Culture

Company Culture in DSM USA

January 8, 2020

SHAZAM is a member-owned, nonprofit organization serving community financial institutions. We were organized in 1976 and have deep roots in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Originally established as a debit card processor, we’re deep-seated in technology. Our staff of 500 includes experts in many areas — development, security, sales, finance, customer service and more. Our local offices are located in Des Moines and Johnson, and many of our employees work remotely to better serve our clients located across the country.

Over the years, we’ve enhanced our products and services resulting in new work functions and a growing staff. From this growth, we’re transitioning from a technology company to a full-service financial services provider and it’s had an impact on our organization. Being intentional about our culture has been our executive team’s focus.

First Steps

To begin this initiative, we determined it was necessary to understand what our culture looked like. To accomplish this important first step, a focus group representing all areas of the company — a first for our organization — was formed. They were tasked with describing our current culture and ways to make it even better. One outcome of this group’s work was identifying our new culture pillars: 

  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Commitment
  • Innovation
  • Work/life balance

These pillars guide SHAZAM in our decision-making processes.

Employee Survey

We knew we’d need to track data and set a baseline. SHAZAM had previously taken part in the Des Moines Register’s Top Workplaces survey in 2016 and 2017 and gained invaluable insight from this experience. For our next survey, we wanted to have more control writing the questions and aligning them with our culture pillars.

Working with a team comprised of corporate communication staff, along with learning and development staff, survey questions were developed and aligned with the five culture pillars. Each set of questions helped us to better identify employee opinions and concerns on these focus areas.

A survey response rate goal was set at 70% and a communication plan was developed. Several strategies were put into place to help us achieve our goal and in the end, we reached a 92% employee response rate! We gathered a lot of valuable data to support our efforts while keeping the contributor’s anonymity.

What We Learned

Working with our outsourced survey implementation specialist, we learned a response rate between 70% and 85% is considered a good sign of employee engagement. Yeah! We accomplished our first goal and received numerous comments from our employees.

The survey data is a big piece of our culture puzzle and we want our employees to know how important their input is to the process. To share an update with staff, an off-site, all-employee meeting was held. (Another first for SHAZAM!) At the meeting, our leadership team shared the results of the five highest and five lowest rated questions.

We also realized how important it is to provide regular communication with employees about the survey and next steps of our culture initiative. While we don’t divulge specific results, we do share over-arching concerns and trends. For example, vending machines were mentioned in several survey responses. As a result, we installed new vending systems with healthier options and subsidized the prices to make sure they were affordable for employees. Bigger, more complex concerns are being fleshed out from the data and categorized for further discussion by the executive team.

Each manager has access to a dashboard to view data received about their unit. The information is presented in themes so as no specific employee can be identified. Yet, the platform gives managers an opportunity to share results with their teams and identify opportunities for improvement and growth. These conversations are a first for some units and processing these challenges with fellow teammates have been met with trepidation, yet with an air of excitement for what’s to come.

We also learned that it’s imperative to keep the momentum moving forward. For that reason, we continue to engage with staff with intranet articles, information on internal monitors, and continued communications with managers to share with their teams.

Next Steps

We’re eager to continue this journey. The energy on our teams is clear and we’ve created an employee committee to focus on our culture going forward.

Culture. What’s more important to your organization? We realized that if we didn’t invest in building an intentional culture, we would have missed a huge opportunity for our organization. As leaders we want to create a workplace that is collaborative, committed and engaged. Our implementation plan will move us forward in shaping an environment that supports our employees, our clients and the mission of our organization — strengthening community financial institutions.

Named as the #13 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and #7 Best City for Living the American Dream, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is the fastest growing metro in the Midwest. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.

Jackie Rolow

Jackie Rolow works in HR, managing practices and retaining top industry talent. She plans and coordinates all corporatewide HR functions, manages info and recordkeeping systems and collaborates with managers. Jackie is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the American Society for Training & Development.