Chapter 2 of my book Road to Respect is entitled “Do You Know Where Your Culture Is?”

I have no doubt that knowing the answer to that question is critical for success in business today. Workplace culture is the personality of an organization. It is the answer you get when you ask an employee, “So what’s it like to work around here?”

Think about that for a minute. What would you want your employees to say? How would you like them to describe your workplace?

Think about how it might impact your business results if the answer included things like “great, the most welcoming environment I’ve ever worked in, supportive, friendly, really made me feel like part of the team.”

That is precisely what I heard recently during a getting to know you coffee with Michele Villeneuve, currently Area Manager, Western Canada, IWCC Training. Michele, who also works as an independent consultant, told me about a year long project she had just completed with North Shore Credit Union.

At the mention of that organization my ears perked up a bit. A number of years ago I worked with the Credit Union to develop a Respectful Workplace Policy and Guideline. While I very much enjoyed working with them, what really matters to me is how my work is going to impact the employees and the workplace culture.

As I discuss in Road to Respect, building a respectful workplace culture is not about adopting a paper strategy. It is about the willingness of those in leadership to really walk the talk, to take action to ensure that the policy serves as a foundation for a truly respectful, values driven culture.

Apparently, that willingness is thriving among the leaders at NSCU. Michele had nothing but positive things to say about her experience working with North Shore Credit Union. Although she was not an employee, she was immediately welcomed and made to feel like part of the team. She described an environment where employees were engaged and passionate, working together in a supportive environment, committed to producing superior results. To top it off she even used the word respectful to describe the workplace culture.

I left that meeting elated. I love to hear stories of companies, particularly those I have worked with, that are getting respect right! Wow, I thought as I made my way back to the subway, you simply can’t buy such great PR.

You can, however, create it. You can ensure that what I heard from Michele becomes a workplace norm when you do what they have done at North Shore Credit Union– be deliberate and strategic about creating a workplace where employees feel respected and valued.

To find out what they were doing to create such an environment at North Shore Credit Union I sat down with Marni Johnson, Vice President of Human Resources and Communications at NSCU.

As I was packing up after the interview, I mentioned Nurse Next Door, a local employer of choice I featured in my January post to Ms. Johnson. Given NSCU’s high engagement scores, employee retention and respectful culture I asked how it was that they had not chosen to participate in any of the employer of choice surveys so that their winning employment practices could get some public recognition.

Ms. Johnson’s reply confirmed for me the fundamental respectful nature of the workplace culture at NSCU. They had considered participating in employer of choice surveys and for a while had done so, she advised me. However, they decided that there is other, more critical information that they need from their employees and they don’t want to over-survey their employees. They decided not to pursue formal recognition as an employer of choice through a non-customizable employee survey.

Hmmm… putting employees needs first. Clearly NSCU is an organization that is “getting respect right”.

Erica Pinsky, B.A., M.Sc, CHRP, is an engaging and inspirational speaker, author and consultant working with organizations to build respectful and inclusive workplace cultures that attract and retain quality employees. Creative, dynamic and results oriented, Erica is passionate about promoting workplace cultures where employees feel engaged, comfortable and focused on their jobs in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and destructive conflict. Erica’s book, Road to Respect, Path to Profit gives companies a road map to success in today’s challenging business climate.